Description of Historic Place
A fine example of the International style, Building M-20 is part of a research complex in Ottawa used by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The structure consists of a main two-storey block with three, three-storey wings. It is characterized by varied massing, flat rooflines and repeated structural bays. Dark ribbon-windows give horizontal emphasis and contrast against the white stucco exterior. The entrance is isolated in a portal frontispiece of black marble and a sweeping cantilever over the door. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Building M-20 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Building M-20 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-20 is valued for its very good aesthetics. An example of early modern federal architecture in the International style, the structure is characterized by horizontality, stripped ornamentation, and the use of smooth modern materials such as steel, glass and stucco. The interior plan was novel for its time, with laboratories, workshops, and offices arranged around a three-storey glazed project area that is visible from the lobby. Good craftsmanship and materials are evident in the steel window surrounds and panels, and in the marble veneers in the lobby.
Building M-20 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-20, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 90-245.
The following character-defining elements of Building M-20 should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic, its good functional design and very good craftsmanship, for example:
- the low massing of the main two-storey block with three, three-storey wings and flat roof;
- the reinforced concrete construction and white stucco clad exterior walls;
- the repeated structural bays and the horizontal arrangement of the steel framed ribbon windows that are separated from strips of glass block by ‘brises-soleil’;
- the use of smooth "modern" materials such as steel, glass block, white stucco and black marble veneer;
- the interior spatial arrangement of the principal rooms.
The manner in which Building M-20 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 campus landscape and nearby buildings;
-its familiarity to those working at the facility and to visitors.