NAC is extending performance and event cancellations and postponements until June 30

NAC Lifts the Curtain on Performance Hall Upgrades, Including Stunning New Orchestra Shell

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today lifted the curtain on dramatic production upgrades in its performance spaces, including a stunning new orchestra shell in its signature Southam Hall venue.

These upgrades are part of the Production Renewal Project, a $114.9 million investment by the Government of Canada since 2014. Much of the NAC’s aging electrical and theatrical equipment has now been replaced in Southam Hall, the Babs Asper Theatre and Azrieli Studio, bringing the Centre’s venues back to contemporary standards for artistic requirements, patron experience and safety. This major construction project is in its final phase and will conclude in December 2018.

Today the NAC also unveiled the results of summer renovations to its le café restaurant, including new tables, lighting, booths, carpet and painting, giving the restaurant a fresh new look. It will re-open to the public on September 11.


The shining star of the Production Renewal Project is without a doubt the beautiful orchestra shell in the NAC’s largest venue, the 2,000-seat Southam Hall. The shell will dramatically improve the acoustics, enabling the music to better carry to the audience, improve the clarity of the sound, and help the Orchestra and visiting artists hear each other on stage more clearly. The shell will also further refresh Southam Hall’s appearance. The venue underwent extensive renovations in the summer of 2016 that included new flooring, seating and improved accessibility.

The production improvements announced today also include:

  • upgrades to theatrical infrastructure, such as theatre lighting and audio-visual equipment;
  • improving isolation of the hall to block the transmission of sound and light between the performance spaces and the NAC lobby (work began in 2017);
  • upgrades the system for the hearing impaired;
  • extensive electrical/mechanical work.

“The new orchestra shell and the extensive production renewal work that has taken place in the NAC will dramatically improve the experience for both artists and audience alike,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, Fisher Dachs Associates, Threshhold Acoustics and Engineering Harmonics, and manufactured by Wenger & JR Clancy, the orchestra shell took more than 18 months to design and manufacture. It took three months to install. During the first week of September, acousticians are testing the shell with a live audience in order to tune it for the best possible sound. Threshold Acoustics and Crossey Engineering also worked on the overall project, which was overseen by PCL Constructors.


The first audiences to hear the brand new sound in Southam Hall are those with tickets to performances of the Beethoven FOCUS festival (September 13 to 22), in which Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra will perform all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies.


The National Arts Centre building, a centennial project which opened in 1969, has been dramatically transformed through the Architectural and Production Renewal projects. The first investment for $110.5 million for the Architectural Rejuvenation of the NAC was announced in December 2014. In March 2016, the Government announced an additional investment of $114.9 million for the upgrade of production equipment – sound, lighting, electrical, projection and acoustics – in all of the NAC’s performance venues. The new NAC building opened in 2017, and features spaces that are more transparent, inviting, and embrace the heart of our Nation’s Capital. The magnificent glass atrium has since become “the living room of the city” with free wifi (provided by Rogers) and a wide range of activities throughout the day, such free performances, educational events, community gatherings, pre‑show chats and a coffee shop.



Months to design and build the NAC’s new orchestra shell.


Kilometers of new electrical and audio-visual conduit.


New doors installed.


Kilometers of new electrical wire and audio-visual cable and fibre (enough to reach from Ottawa to Montreal).


Construction and installation workers on-site during each day this summer (average).


New speakers.


Hours of staff training on how to operate new theatrical systems and orchestra shell.


New light fixtures.


New lighting circuits.


Square-feet of veneer on orchestra shell.


Square-feet of isolation material to minimize sound transfer backstage.





Annabelle Cloutier
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x260


Carl Martin
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 ext 560