Doors Open Ontario

SPAO Centre Doors Open Ottawa


SPAO Centre

Designed by Hobin Architecture, the new SPAO Centre building officially opened its doors to the public in 2017. A nondescript warehouse underwent a purpose-built renovation, converting it into a photographic arts centre that is now home to Canada’s only two-year photographic arts diploma in Canada. The SPAO (School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa) also hosts numerous evening and weekend part-time classes, a unique international artists’ residency and the only gallery in the national capital region dedicated to lens-based art. Nestled in the heart of Little Italy, SPAO’s purpose-built facility is specifically designed for all levels of photographic techniques. The ground-level and wheelchair-accessible space comprises a large studio/lecture space and gallery, perfect for hosting events of many types. The studio is equipped with industry-standard lighting, camera and support equipment for shooting in a large studio, and a selection of 35mm, medium and large format cameras available to full-time students. SPAO’s multi-station, multi-format darkroom for both silver gelatin and alternative printmaking allows for comprehensive study and technical instruction in historical and alternative photographic processes. On the second floor, the media lab is equipped with inkjet printmaking capabilities, including large-format printers, a drum scanner and flatbed scanners. SPAO prides itself on having one of the largest photobook collections in the Ottawa region, thanks in large part to the generosity and commitment of its community. The SPAO Centre is also home to the Ottawa region's only independent and critical gallery space that is dedicated to photographic and video art. Accompanying the indoor gallery space is the Photo-Synthesis Garden, a unique outdoor exhibition space comprising a custom-built hanging system set up over a large garden bed, pairing the natural world with the created photographic one. As part of Digital Doors Open, take a tour of the space through the video below, or learn more about the SPAO on their website, or explore their latest online exhibit.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Virtual tour
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

77 Pamilla Street
Ottawa, Ontario


Year built: 2017
Architect: Hobin Architecture
Building type: Educational facility
Landscape: Garden

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Ottawa

SPAO Centre 77 Pamilla Street