Description of Historic Place
Building S-136, also known as Hennessy Block, is located at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, in a sector of the base made up of barracks, where it faces onto an open lawn. It is a U-shaped, two-storey building with a flat roof and a symmetrical façade, with a central, projecting entrance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Building S-136 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Constructed in 1952, Building S-136 at CFB Borden is associated with the massive construction and modernization program undertaken by the Department of National Defence (DND) for all military services after the Second World War. The two primary themes for this association are the creation of permanent peacetime armed forces, and the expansion and transformation of the military services to meet specific national commitments in the early years of the Cold War. This barracks block was an early component of the post-WWII expansion of the base to accommodate a wide variety of new housing. Unlike many major structures of the era designed by private architects, this project was developed by National Defence staff as an exemplar of new standards of improved accommodation.
Building S-136 is valued for its classical modern design and its simple, functional plan. It is constructed to a standard plan for a 250-bed barrack, which was based on prototypes constructed during WWII. It is a stucco-clad, concrete building, with a flat roof set behind a low parapet wall. The primary elevation is a symmetrical composition centered on a double-height, flat-topped portico of six rectangular pillars placed between end walls, the whole projecting from the front wall and above the original roof line to protect a principal entrance. The elevations comprise two storeys of horizontal window openings on continuous lintels, accented by continuous horizontal box-profile mouldings that wrap around the building, except at the recessed northeast and southeast corners, which are set back in plan with a double-height frame that folds around the two corner windows on each floor. The original multi-paned windows have been replaced by slightly varying single-pane units. In plan, the building forms an elongated U, with a central single-storey pavilion on the half-court side, and stair blocks at its ends, their flat roofs aligning to the upper mouldings of the elevations.
Backing onto a small ravine at the western edge of the main settled portion of CFB Borden, Building S-136 is situated in front of a large manicured lawn, with paved areas at the front entrance and most of the rear half-court. The building reinforces the formally planned character of the setting and is a familiar building at the base.
Sources: Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Research Notes, Building S-136, 94-088; Hennessy Block S-136, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 94-088.
The character-defining elements of Building S-136 should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the expansion, modernization and diversification of the Canadian military in peacetime as reflected in:
- its exemplary role for new standards of military accommodation of its period;
- its high standard of robust, durable construction.
Its combination of architectural modernism and functionalism in a durable and economical form as manifested in:
- the symmetrical plan and horizontally emphasized massing of the building;
- the symmetrical main elevation, with articulated corner accents and the emphasized and elaborated principal frontage, with its projecting portico and recessed entrance;
- the general horizontal emphasis on all elevations, reinforced by the flat roofscape and parapets, and the wrap-around continuity of the projecting belt courses.
The manner in which it reinforces the formally planned character of the setting as evidenced in:
- the formal symmetry of its freestanding location and orientation addressing a functional open space in the overall base plan; and
- its relationship to a functionally and formally allied building group of different periods.