Description of Historic Place
Pavilion A is a component of the Federal Study Centre, a self-contained training complex composed of twelve interconnected pavilions (A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I, J, L, K and M) identifiable by their modern vocabulary of dark, rough brick surfaces divided by smooth, white concrete bands, expressing floor plates and parapets, and by their careful organization around four small courtyards. Pavilion A is the focal point of the composition due to its central location and distinctive, soaring profile. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Pavilion A is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its architectural and environmental values, as well as its historical associations.
The Federal Study Centre, of which Pavilion A is the dominant element, was built to house a high school for girls, a high school for boys, a convent and a novitiate. As such, it is a good example of a multifunctional education complex. Commissioned and run by a religious order in the early 1960s, it was erected during a period of extensive suburban development initiated with the annexation of Alta Vista into the City of Ottawa in 1950. The original owners of the property were The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, the first religious order founded in Canada. The Sisters developed into a powerful and progressive Catholic organization, well known in the eastern part of the country. The Sisters were closely involved in the design of the complex, and remain associated with the period when it was operated as one of their educational facilities. Acquired in the early 1970s, the Federal Study Centre also represents the rapid expansion of Federal Government activities at that time and the way the related need of facilities for training civil servants was addressed, in this case to meet the objectives of the Official Languages Act of Canada.
Pavilion A acts as the physical and symbolic anchor of the Federal Study Centre, which is a very good example of a modern educational campus. Using features of the modern architectural vocabulary, the campus creates high visual interest through a diversity of effects. All pavilions share a common, limited palette of colours and good quality materials assembled with very competent craftsmanship. They are also united by the play of light and shadow, and texture and space. Functionally, the complex originally served an elaborate program, organized into three groups of interconnected buildings around a chapel (Pavilion A) and four courtyards (the academic, the administrative, the novitiate and the monastic). All pavilions are characterized by a clear yet subtle hierarchy of interrelationships from public to private spaces. The functional interconnectivity of the complex is further reinforced by a system of tunnels and walkways connecting all pavilions. An early work of Tim Murray of Murray and Murray Associates in Ottawa, the complex also benefited from the contribution of landscape architect Peter Coe and multidisciplinary artist Gerald Trottier, who was responsible for the interior decoration of the former chapel. All buildings of the Federal Study Centre were easily converted from a religious educational complex to a government training facility. The integrity of the campus remains intact.
Consistent with the intimacy favoured for religious complexes, the Federal Study Centre is a discreet, self-contained environment, screened by a row of mature trees from Heron Road. It is somewhat isolated yet compatible with the surrounding 1960s residential suburb. The interrelationships between all pavilions, the landscaped courtyards they define, and two closely adjacent educational facilities have been well maintained.
Sources: Kate MacFarlane, 12 Buildings, Federal Study Centre, 1495 Heron Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 04-059; Pavilion A, Federal Study Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 04-059.
As an intrinsic component of the Federal Study Centre, Pavilion A shares the following character-defining elements, which should be respected.
The Federal Study Centre’s aesthetic expression, as demonstrated by:
- its features typical of modern architecture, such as clean lines, strong horizontality balanced with vertical elements including a former chapel spire stating the religious foundation of the complex, a stylized campanile, two towers, and horizontal bands of windows;
- its clear articulation on the exterior of the structural system, expressed in the engaged pillars, deep overhangs, horizontal floor plates and cornice with large water spouts;
- its articulation of building function through varied footprint, massing and roof profiles, size and location of openings;
- the highly texturized exterior façades created by alternating solids and voids, combining smooth concrete surfaces with projecting and more rustic brick planes and deeply recessed windows extending from floor to ceiling;
- the strong visual and physical relationship between the pavilions, as well as between the pavilions and the landscaped courtyards;
- the three-dimensional articulation of the terrain, created by raised courtyards, sunken concrete planters and basin, and varying ground planes from one building façade to another.
The Federal Study Centre’s good functional layout incorporating:
- the typical functions of an educational campus, such as classrooms and halls, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, a library, a theatre, and administration offices;
- additional functions related to the religious foundation of the campus, such as the former chapel, two residential towers, initially for novices and nuns, and a former dormitory building for girls;
- four courtyards, each with its specific character reflecting the hierarchy of its original users;
The Federal Study Centre’s use of quality materials assembled with competent craftsmanship, as exemplified in:
- the common palette of materials comprised of red mottled bricks with smooth white concrete accents and copper trim and roofs. In addition, a number of projecting, distorted bricks create highly textured surfaces.
The Federal Study Centre’s compatibility with the 1960s residential and institutional character of its setting, as illustrated in:
- its low but varied silhouette and massing, pedestrian scale and simple materials, as well as its generous lawns and plantings;
- its intact relationship with Heron Road and two closely adjacent educational facilities.
In contrast with the other rectilinear buildings, Pavilion A has additional specific character-defining elements, including:
- its dominant role as the focal point of the complex, due to its central location, visibility from all courtyards, as well as its distinctive profile defined by a massive, truncated, offset pyramidal copper roof;
- the features reflecting the hierarchy that existed among its original users (sisters, novices, and students), such as the access pattern composed of three distinct entrances;
- the remaining elements of the original interior decoration, which reflect the initial religious function of the building, such as the distinct natural lighting scheme, the brick basket weave walls separating the former nave from the ambulatory, the slate flooring, and Gerald Trottier’s dramatic Christ sculpture suspended above and in front of the original altar, which have been maintained despite the introduction of a mezzanine.