Home / Accueil

Ralston Building

1557 Hollis Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/04/01

Corner view of the Ralston Building, showing its symmetrical and unadorned façade, 1998.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1998.
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1954/01/01 to 1956/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/06/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ralston Building is located in the urban core of Halifax. It is a tall, flat-roofed building designed in the modern style. The upper storeys rise as a squat, cube-like tower on a larger T-shaped podium. Clad in squares of smooth-faced limestone, the façades feature horizontal strips of windows with slightly projecting sills. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Ralston Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Ralston Building is closely associated with the expansion of federal public services and the related increase in national revenue and staffing requirements. The product of a post-war redevelopment project, its construction affected local development by extending the southern boundary of Halifax’s Central Business District.

Architectural Value
The Ralston Building is a good example of the early modern design, which characterized most federal buildings of the 1950s. This design reduces the impression of bulk by its use of the tower and podium form, and employs simple and flexible planning, good ventilation and natural light. Significant in the career of architect A.F. Duffus, the building was designed in collaboration with E.A. Gardner, chief architect for the Department of Public Works. The architectural treatment reflects the evolution of design within the Chief Architect’s Branch and the influence of the branch in defining the nation’s architecture.

Environmental Value
The Ralston Building reinforces the character of its urban setting and is a conspicuous building in its neighbourhood.

Sources: Susan D. Bronson, Ralston Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 97-101; Ralston Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 97-101.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Ralston Building should be respected.

Its early modern design and materials, for example:
- the modern massing and T-shaped footprint that is composed of a squat, cube-like tower on a larger T-shaped podium and includes a central eight-storey volume;
- the smooth-faced, square limestone slabs installed with a stacked bond;
- the walls capped with a simple metal flashing;
- the glazing, which is comprised of large panels of blue tinted glass set almost flush with the masonry surfaces in blue pre-finished metal frames;
- the interior layout.

The manner in which the Ralston Building reinforces the character of its urban setting and is a familiar landmark within the area, as evidenced by:
- its modern design and appearance, which harmonizes with the surrounding office
buildings in the central business district;
- its visibility in its urban neighbourhood vis-à-vis its large scale and modern massing.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Office or office building

Architect / Designer

Alan F. Duffus



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places