Description of Historic Place
Located in Ottawa as part of a research complex used by the National Research Council Canada (NRC), Building M-12 is set in a landscaped campus of lawns and mature trees. A fine example of the International Style, the low massed, concrete structure is flat-roofed with steel-framed windows and doors. Horizontal emphasis is expressed by long bands of ribbon-windows that provide a strong contrast to the white stucco exterior. The wide, projecting entrance bay punctuates the façade. The entrance proper is centered within this framing device at the top of a short graceful flight of stairs. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Building M-12 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Building M-12 is a very good example of a building associated with the complex of research facilities established in the late 1930s on a 130-acre site known as the Montreal Road Laboratories. As the main research centre for applied chemistry, it is representative of the National Research Council’s importance to Canadian industry in supporting technological development through research.
Building M-12 is valued for its very good aesthetics. An example of early modern federal architecture in the International Style, it emphasises horizontality, stripped ornamentation, repetition of structural bays, and the use of smooth modern materials such as steel, glass and stucco. The functional interior features a staircase off the lobby space and a corridor that leads to offices, open workshops, and research laboratories. Good craftsmanship is seen in the steel window surrounds and the marble veneers in the lobby.
Building M-12 is compatible with the character of the research complex and is a familiar landmark to local residents, and people working in the vicinity.
Sources: Architectural Analysis Section, architectural History Branch, Institute for Environmental Chemistry Laboratories, Building M-12, and Institute for Environmental Chemistry Laboratories, Building M-20, National Research Council Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 90-245; National Research Council Building M-12, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 90-245.
The character-defining elements of Building M-12 should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic, its good functional design and very good quality craftsmanship, for example:
- the low, three-storey massing with its horizontal emphasis and flat roof;
- the reinforced concrete construction and white stucco clad exterior walls;
- the ribbon windows with fine scale mullions and muntins, the steel frames for windows and doors with shallow recesses and sill projections, and the slimness of the exterior canopies and fins;
- the scale of the fenestration and the positioning of glazing units flush with the exterior walls and the elegant exterior roller blinds;
- the interior spatial arrangement of the principal rooms with its emphasis on smooth sleek modern materials, the finishes including the terrazzo, and fixtures such as steel door handles with a horizontal orientation;
- the six-storey addition.
The manner in which Building M-12 is a compatible element in the campus-like ensemble and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
- its massing, materials and details that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the smooth landscaped area between buildings, with the nearby Building M-12, and which complements the other buildings on the NRC campus;
- its familiarity to those working at the facility and to visitors.