Description of Historic Place
The Victoria Building stands in the heart of Ottawa, as part of the southern streetscape of Wellington Street, directly facing Parliament Hill. It is a large, ten-storey structure defined by two principal façades with a brick and stone facing. Regular windows framed by projecting vertical bands of brickwork emphasize the vertical sweep of its tripartite composition. Decorative elements include the two-storey limestone base that provides the dominant horizontal element, and the striping effect at the top of the façade. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Victoria Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Victoria Building is associated with Ottawa’s early 20th century change from a lumber trade based economy to one increasingly dependent on the business of government. Built by the Wellington Investments Company the building was used by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as its national headquarters from 1938 to 1964. The coordinating and planning of a national radio network, and later a national television network was planned in the building. In 1973, the government of Canada purchased the building, and it now houses subsidiary offices of the Senate and the Library of Parliament. The Victoria Building was an early high-rise building that prompted the federal government to take a more active role in local planning development and height restrictions through the Federal District Commission.
The Victoria Building is valued for its good aesthetics. It is an early example of a high-rise structure in Ottawa. The façades are marked by the tripartite division (base, column and capital) characteristic of early multi-storey commercial blocks. Uncluttered façades and linear forms openly express its structural elements with a simplified and repetitive treatment of the exterior. This functional structure exhibits good craftsmanship and materials.
The Victoria Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, is compatible with the present dignified, urban character of Ottawa’s Wellington Street corridor in front of the Parliamentary Precinct, and is a familiar local landmark to people working in the vicinity, to local residents, and to pedestrians and tourists.
Sources: Robert Hunter, Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 87-031; Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 87-031.
The following character-defining elements of the Victoria Building should be respected.
Its good aesthetics, functional design, and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the ten-storey massing and tripartite design with two principal elevations;
- the two-storey base faced with limestone cladding and the verticals of modernized columns running between regularly spaced windows;
- the horizontal bands of limestone and red brick on the third storey that provide a transition to the simple red brick facing on the fourth through tenth floors;
- the upper storey with stone banding and detailing that gives the impression of crenellation and small corner towers at the roofline;
- the regularly placed windows with tripartite transom elements in the ground floor windows, and simple two-light sash in the widows above;
- the base defined by two storeys of limestone cladding with attenuated buttresses marking the vertical piers and an elaborated entryway.
The manner in which the Victoria Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, is compatible with the historical character of the Wellington street corridor in downtown Ottawa, and is a familiar regional landmark, as evidenced by:
- its ongoing relationship to the Parliament Hill and adjacent government buildings;
- its design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the nearby government buildings and the streetscape of Wellington Street;
- its height on the Wellington Street corridor in Ottawa that make it known in the vicinity.