CF Rideau Centre Expansion

CF Rideau Centre​​ is a full-scale shopping centre located on Rideau Street, in the heart of historic downtown Ottawa. With a nod to the past and an eye on the future, this Cadillac Fairview–owned property has undergone a major renovation and expansion that will contribute to the transformation of the city’s centre and the Ottawa shopping experience.
A distinct design feature of CF Rideau Centre is
the façade that incorporates materials recovered
from a demolished city heritage building​.

The new look of CF Rideau Centre appeals to
visitors looking for a truly modern shopping

An oval, four-level atrium with a central skylight is
a dramatic feature in CF Rideau Centre.

With strong consumer demand for additional retail space, the high-performing mall and tourist attraction was ready for redevelopment. PCL was responsible for the construction of a 550,000-square-foot addition to CF Rideau Centre to accommodate four levels of retail space; three levels of underground parking; the building’s exterior facelift; an oval, four-level atrium with a central skylight; and the portal beneath the mall that will connect it to a future underground Light Rail Transit (LRT) station.

PCL modernized the exterior of the building that runs along Rideau Street using a combination of curtain wall (floor-to-ceiling glass walls), glazing, porcelain, and aluminum. And in Ottawa when they say everything old is new again, CF Rideau Centre will come to mind. Prior to the expansion, PCL disassembled and removed a heritage building façade and demolished the interior of the building located on the current project site. To meet City of Ottawa heritage requirements, and to pay tribute to the city’s history, PCL catalogued every brick and wooden window frame from the demolition and stored it for reinstatement on the CF Rideau Centre expansion exterior. The design included the heritage building’s façade, with new glazing to integrate the past with the present.

Structure within a Structure—Can Ya Dig it?

“How do we dig that kind of hole through an existing building?” That’s the question PCL answered when faced with building the portal from CF Rideau Centre to the City of Ottawa’s underground LRT station. PCL had to excavate beneath CF Rideau Centre’s former food court to build a structure within a structure, with operating stores above.

Excavating through an existing building for this type of construction is rare. PCL worked with a team of engineers and designers to come up with a plan to dig down and pour concrete for a new structure within the building while ensuring the safety of existing shoring, pilings, and foundation supports along the way. Before PCL removed any foundation supports, the team had to remove the concrete slab that underlay the old food court and continue to drill down 20 feet to pour a new concrete foundation slab. Only then could the large-grade beams, piles, and support columns above be removed.

After the dig, PCL poured concrete walls and stairs for the new portal and installed escalators that will transport passengers up from the LRT station and into the portal to CF Rideau Centre.

Building, Busting, and Moving Bridges

Two rusty, disheveled, pedestrian bridges connected CF Rideau Centre to a department store on the north side of Rideau Street. PCL closed one bridge temporarily for a complete renovation. The second, deemed redundant, needed to be removed. It seems simple enough, but Rideau Street is a major artery running through downtown Ottawa, and to remove the bridge piece by piece while minimizing traffic inconvenience over a four-to-five month period wasn’t the best option.

The best option was a fine-tuned, cost-saving solution that involved a lot of heavy equipment. PCL devised a plan to remove the bridge over five days, which included a weekend. Piece by piece, with the help of a 300-ton crane, PCL cut and removed the bridge in time for the City of Ottawa to begin tunneling below for the LRT line.

CF Rideau Centre’s expansion and renovation promises to “wow” shoppers with an amazing dining and retail experience. The redevelopment will also contribute to the overall revitalization of the Rideau Street area, which will continue to attract tourists and residents for an unforgettable experience in the heart of Canada’s Capital.

Watch a cool time-lapse video that shows how PCL removed one of the pedestrian walkways connected to CF Rideau Centre.


“The revitalization of CF Rideau Centre was an extremely comprehensive project featuring interior and exterior enhancements to the landmark property. We appreciate the dedication and quality of work put forth by our partners in helping us achieve this important milestone.”  David Handley, senior vice president, Special Projects, Cadillac Fairview​​​​