Description of Historic Place
The Sir Charles Tupper Building in Ottawa is set on an expansive, sloping site at the Confederation Heights development, a low density grouping of federal government buildings. The Tupper Building consists of five thin, interlocking rectangular blocks, four or five stories high, laid out in a geometric, stair-like arrangement. The structure features clean horizontal lines, flat roofs, curtain wall construction and coloured panels. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Sir Charles Tupper Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Sir Charles Tupper Building is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the post Second World War expansion of federal government services. The building was built as the headquarters of the Department of Public Works. It is one of five original facilities making up the Confederation Heights development, a new decentralized suburban node for federal government buildings, established in the 1950s and 1960s in accordance with the Greber Plan. The building currently functions as office accommodation for federal government departments.
Valued for its very good aesthetics, the Sir Charles Tupper Building is an example of a 1950s federal building that features key traits of the International Style, such as its novel form and massing, clean horizontal lines, flat roofs, curtain wall construction and coloured panels. Planned as a flagship departmental headquarters, the provision of a healthy work environment was integral to the design that included offices with large operable windows for natural light and ventilation, and easy access to the surrounding park-like environment. Good functional design is evidenced in the cladding materials chosen for their durability, low-maintenance, and permanent finishes. Good craftsmanship is evident in the quality of construction and interior finishes.
The Sir Charles Tupper Building reinforces its park-like setting and is a well-known regional landmark.
Sources: Edgar Tumak, Sir Charles Tupper Building, 2250 Riverside Drive, Confederation Heights, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 99-038; Sir Charles Tupper Building, 2250 Riverside Drive, Confederation Heights, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 99-038.
The character-defining elements of the Sir Charles Tupper Building should be respected:
The very good modern aesthetic, good functional design and quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the four and five storey massing of the interlocking rectangular blocks with flat roofs laid out orthogonally (at 90 degree angles to each other), in a stair-like arrangement;
- the façades of each of the building’s five office blocks, with heavy-looking brown brick-clad end walls that wrap around the corners, the long side elevations clad with a lighter-appearing curtain wall system with alternating horizontal bands of aluminum-framed glazing units and the grey and coloured spandrel panels;
- the Granite mullions that divide the bands of windows into groups of three sashes, with operable vertically-sliding sashes flanking a central fixed unit;
- the dimension of the fenestration, the rails, mullions, precast concrete sills and concrete brises-soleil;
- the main building entrance with granite-clad, single-storey high columns and walls, and a plate glass wall and revolving door, and the two secondary entrances with flat reinforced-concrete entrance door canopies, with a support column and patterned brick wall to either side;
- the large, split-level main entrance hall, the stone tile floor, wood panelled walls, white plaster ceiling and silver-metal-finished balustrades with wood handrails;
- the circulation pattern of double-loaded corridors with terrazzo floors, stairs and balustrades and the consistent palette of finishes, doors, lighting and hardware.
The manner in which the Sir Charles Tupper Building reinforces its open park-like setting and is a prominent regional landmark, as evidenced by:
- its massing, materials and design that reinforces the specific Confederation Heights development;
- its visibility and familiarity given its prominent location near Riverside Drive and Heron Road, and also its use as federal offices that make it a well-known building in the area.