Description of Historic Place
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Headquarters Building is located in the suburbs of East Ottawa where it stands in a formal setting facing the Rideau River. The large stone structure is monumental in scale, an effect heightened by the vertical emphasis of the central entrance pavilion, and by the wide steps leading up to it. Multi-winged, and four to five storeys in height, the balanced composition is long in relation to its height, has restrained and flattened classical detailing, stepped massing, smooth finishes and a flat roof. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The RCMP Headquarters Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The RCMP Headquarters Building is a very good example of a structure associated with the RCMP's rapid expansion after the Second World War. Originally erected to accommodate a Roman Catholic seminary, it was instead leased and later sold to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The building continues to serve as the RCMP national headquarters. The architect, Auguste Martineau, was a graduate of the École des Beaux Arts, Québec, and received this and other commissions from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ottawa after the pope personally selected him for design work related to a papal visit to Ottawa.
The RCMP Headquarters Building is valued for its very good aesthetics in the monumental classical tradition. The building’s formality and authority are in keeping with its intended ecclesiastical use, and also with its current role as the headquarters for a national police force. Good functional design is evidenced in the adaptability of its layout. Good craftsmanship is evident in the quality of construction and the interior finishes.
The RCMP Headquarters Building is compatible with its park-like setting and is a well-known regional landmark.
Sources: Joan Mattie, RCMP Headquarters Building, 1200 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 92-013; RCMP Headquarters Building, 1200 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 92-013.
The following character-defining elements of the RCMP Headquarters Building should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, very good functional design and very good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the low, stepped massing of the flat-roofed formal composition, the long, low central block and flanking wings;
-the steel-frame construction with limestone veneer cladding;
-the vertical emphasis of the central entrance pavilion, and the wide steps leading up to it;
-the masonry piers between rows of narrow, slightly recessed windows that suggest pilasters, and support the flat entablature with its modest cornice of dentils and metopes;
-the entrance’s brown metal panels above oak-and-glass entrance doors;
-the Art Deco bas relief panels and Latin crosses;
-the interior’s Beaux-Arts pattern of circulation (axial, double loaded corridors), and the interior configuration of wide north-south corridors leading off the main lobby;
-the solid, curving balustrades capped with terrazzo.
The manner in which the RCMP Headquarters Building is compatible with its open park-like setting and is a prominent regional landmark, as evidenced by:
-its massing, materials and design that are compatible with its formal landscaped surroundings setting and its orientation to the Rideau River;
-its visibility and familiarity given its large scale and prominence near the river, the Queensway and associated roadways.