Description of Historic Place
The Nixon Block is a monumental, asymmetrical, four-storey, reinforced concrete building, designed in a stripped collegiate Gothic style, and features three-storey bay windows, a stylized crenellated parapet, and formed concrete details such as decorative reliefs and buttresses. Built into a hillside which slopes down to the road below, the Nixon Block's main entrance is on the upper terrace and leads into the central wing, while the southern wing is on terraced land extending towards the forest. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Nixon Block is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Nixon Block is associated with the post-WWII expansion of the Canadian Armed Forces and professional training programs. The Nixon Block was built during the second phase of development of the Royal Roads University campus in order to accommodate the increased numbers of cadets joining the Forces. Its construction also signaled a shift in the location of training programs from the base at Esquimalt to the Royal Roads University.
The Nixon Block is a good example of a stripped collegiate Gothic style. As such, the building features elements influenced by the modern aesthetic such as the footprint and massing of the building, as well as elements influenced by the Tudor Revival Style such as the stylized crenellated parapets, the three-storey mullioned bay windows, the engaged buttresses, and the decorative shields. Good quality materials and craftsmanship are evident in the handling of the modern concrete work and the period details.
Located within the grounds of J. Dunsmuir's former Edwardian estate, the formality of the architectural style of the Nixon Block reinforces the pastoral character of this Edwardian era estate as it has evolved into a military university. Together with the Grant Block, the Nixon Block serves as a backdrop to Hatley Castle and is familiar to the faculty and the students of the university.
Andrew Waldron, Nixon Block (RR24A), Royal Roads University, Colwood, British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 99-137.
Nixon Block (RR24A), Royal Roads University, Colwood, British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 99-137.
The following character-defining elements of the Nixon Block should be respected, for example:
Its role as an illustration of the post-WWII expansion of the Canadian Armed Forces and professional training programs is reflected in:
-the building's distinctive aesthetic design and its visually prominent location which speak to the transformation of J. Dunsmuir's Edwardian estate into a modern military college.
It's stripped collegiate Gothic style, and good quality craftsmanship and materials as manifested in:
-the building's monumental scale and modern, asymmetrical cubic massing;
-the three-wing asymmetrical plan derived from the 'pin-wheel' plan of the Bauhaus School;
-elements influenced by the Tudor Revival Style such as the stylized crenellated parapets, the three-storey mullioned bay windows, the engaged buttresses, and the decorative shields; and,
-the reinforced concrete work and the formed concrete details such as the decorative buttresses, the treatment of the window openings, and the cornice's drain spouts.
The manner in which the building reinforces the pastoral character of the former estate, as evidenced in:
-its scale and the formality of its architectural style which are compatible with Grant Block and the park-like
Edwardian campus; and,
-its visual prominence and careful siting which allows it to serve as a backdrop to Hatley Castle.