Description of Historic Place
The Surveys and Mapping Building, located in a campus-like setting in Ottawa, is the largest building at the Booth Street Complex, also know as the National Resources Canada (NRCan) complex. The steel-frame building designed in the International Style is composed of a tall, multistoried block, a library wing, an office wing and an intersecting stairwell block. The entrance is found within the multistoried block, framed by the freestanding columns that support the floors above. The smooth walls, clad in brick veneer, feature recessed bands of windows with continuous polished stone sills and ‘brise-soleils’. These emphasize the abstract and horizontal character of the building’s elevations. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Surveys and Mapping Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Surveys and Mapping Building is directly associated with the role of the Surveys and Mapping department in the exploration and mapping of Canada, and the federal government’s recognition of the significance of the these activities. The building is also associated with the post-Second World War acceleration of mineral exploration and ore testing by the Canadian government and illustrates the development of the mining sector and its value to the Canadian economy. In addition, the building illustrates a phase in the City of Ottawa’s development, where the siting of the complex is an example of the relocation of federal government offices away from the central core of Ottawa, based on the recommendations of the Gréber plan.
The Surveys and Mapping Building is valued for its very good aesthetic qualities. The strong asymmetrical massing, the variation in size and form of the building’s components, the open volume of the recessed entrance, and the flat roofline are characteristic of the International Style. Built to house the production facilities necessary to produce maps and charts, its very good functional design is evidenced in its composition of functional blocks of varying heights which expresses internal functions. The absence of decorative features and the use of a limited range of sleek, hard-surfaced and high quality materials including polished stone, steel and glass are evidence of the building’s very good craftsmanship and materials.
The Surveys and Mapping Building reinforces the character of its campus-like setting. As part of the Booth Street Complex, the Surveys and Mapping Building is familiar within the area.
Sources: Leslie Maitland, The Surveys and Mapping Building, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 92-045b; The Surveys and Mapping Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 92-045b.
The character-defining elements of the Surveys and Mapping Building should be respected.
Its very good International Style design, very good functional design and very good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the strong asymmetrical massing, composed of functional blocks of varying heights and dominated by a tall entrance block oriented perpendicular to the overall linear massing of the building;
- the variation in size and form of the building components, and the flat roofline;
- the open volume of the entrance, recessed behind steel columns that support the office floors above;
- the steel frame construction clad in brick veneer;
- the recessed bands of windows with continuous stone sills, and continuous bands of stone above the windows forming ‘brise-soleils’ at each storey, and the larger vertical windows of the library wing;
- the use of a limited range of sleek, hard-surfaced and high-quality materials, including the brick, polished stone, steel and glass;
- the interior finishes, including the terrazzo, linoleum and tile used for the floors, the polygonal-shaped entrance lobby faced with warm brown stone walls and dark green stone base mouldings, fluted piers and a marble floor, and the stainless steel fittings and the use of plate glass in the doors.
The manner in which the Surveys and Mapping Building reinforces the character of its campus-like setting and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its International Style design which maintains a relationship to the open landscaped spaces and contributes to the campus-like setting through its complementary massing and formal relationship with adjacent buildings;
- its role as part of a group of individually distinct buildings that forms a cohesive unit at the campus, which makes it a familiar building in the immediate area.