SPAO (School of the Photographic Arts Ottawa) Centre

Designed by Hobin Architecture, the new SPAO Centre building officially opened its doors to the public in fall 2017. The nondescript warehouse at 77 Pamilla Street underwent a purpose-built renovation, converting it into a photographic arts centre that is home to the only 2-year photographic arts diploma in all of Canada. SPAO (School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa) also hosts numerous evening and weekend part-time classes, a unique international artist 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 is comprised of 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 historic 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 one of the largest photobook collections in the Ottawa region, thanks in a 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 dedicated to photographic and video art, free for the public and wheelchair accessible. 

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.

Location and contact

In-person visiting hours

*Follow building health protocols.

  • Saturday, June 3 2023
    10am to 4pm
  • Sunday, June 4 2023
    10am to 4pm

Virtual and 3D Tours

*Some content may not be available in both official languages.

A contemporary gallery facade sits behind a row of gardens with photographic work suspended above on 77 Pamilla St.
Exterior facade of the SPAO Photographic Arts Centre and the Photosynthesis Garden.


Architect/Builder on record
Hobin Architecture
Architectural style
Construction date or date range
Galleries and theatres

Amenities and features

  • Public washrooms
  • Accessible access
  • Bike parking
  • Metered/paid parking
  • Family friendly
  • Guided tours
  • OC transpo nearby