Description of Historic Place
The National Press Building is located on the south side of Wellington Street across from Parliament Hill. The attractive high-rise structure of reinforced concrete has an attractive façade clad in limestone and terracotta and influenced by the Italian palazzo. Its façade is composed of central bays of large windows, framed by slender pilasters, and balanced by outer bays that rise to small corner towers at roof level. Linear form, and large windows are divided vertically and horizontally. Rusticated corner walls give the impression of masonry piers that rise to small towers at the roofline. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The National Press Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The National Press Building is associated with the development of early 20th century Ottawa and with the evolution of the Wellington Street corridor from commercial banking corridor to a federal government precinct. Originally known as the Norlite Building, it was built by the Norlite Realty Company with the expectation of renting it immediately to the federal government. In 1954, it was expropriated by the government and since the 1960s, it has been leased to various media organizations and the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
The National Press Building is an early example of Canadian modern office planning and construction using newly developed building materials and technology. Reference is made to historical styles as evidenced in the rustication and traditional division of the principal façade. Very good functional design is evidenced in the large windows that provide a great deal of natural light. This functional structure exhibits good craftsmanship and materials.
The National Press Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, is compatible with the present governmental/commercial character of Ottawa’s Wellington Street corridor and is familiar to people working in the vicinity, to local residents, and to pedestrians.
Sources: Sally Coutts, National Press Building, 150 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 87-041; National Press Building, 150 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, 165 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 87-041.
The following character-defining elements of the National Press Building should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the large massing and high-rise design of the symmetrical structure;
-the two-storey base clad in Indiana limestone, and the seven-storey shaft clad in terra-cotta panels;
-the vertical division into corner bays that flank a recessed centre portion;
-the extensive glazing, and the arched windows of the ground floor and top floor;
-the small towers at the roofline;
-the rustication of the flanking end-bays;
-the interior spatial arrangement;
The manner in which the National Press Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, is compatible with the present governmental/commercial character of the Wellington street corridor in downtown Ottawa and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
-the building’s ongoing relationship to the adjacent Bank of Montreal, Metropolitan Life Building, and to the overall Wellington Street streetscape composed of important buildings;
-its design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the surrounding buildings and the streetscape of Wellington Street in the business district of Ottawa;
-its prominent position in front of Parliament Hill that makes it recognizable to passers-by in the area.