Description of Historic Place
The Federal Building in Windsor is an imposing, six-storey masonry office block in the city’s central business district. Features of the building include its recessed bays of windows, giant fluted pilasters in high relief, and the fluted cornice. Above the entrances are Canadian crests. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Federal Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Federal Building is associated with the increasing complexities of the corporate structure of the Dominion Government in the 1920s and with its activities at the local level. This resulted in the development of a new type of government building. The Federal Building is a relatively early example of an approach to public building, which became more widespread in the late 1930s.
The Federal Building is valued for its very good aesthetic and functional design. The design is a modernist interpretation of the Beaux-Arts inspired federal office building and was a large commission for its well-known local designers. The sophisticated handling of mass and the treatment of the building as a sculptural whole represent a new approach to official architecture in the late 1930s. The building was planned with the intention of concentrating the work of federal government departments in one location and of providing more adequate public and working space for postal and customs services. The building is also valued for its striking and high quality materials and craftsmanship evident in its masonry work including Canadian decorative motifs.
The Federal Building is compatible with the present character of its business district setting in Windsor and is a well known building in the area.
Sources: Shannon Ricketts, Federal Building, Windsor, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 87-005; Federal Building, Windsor, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 87-005.
The character-defining elements of the Federal Building should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design and excellent materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the six-storey massing of the office block;
- the three, classically inspired stages including the base, underscored by a broad horizontal band of black granite and the pronounced stringcourse that marks the transition from base to shaft, the intermediary section which rises four storeys in a strong vertical thrust, and the attic storey which echoes the horizontality of the base;
- the giant fluted pilasters in high relief and at attic level, the octagons in low relief and the fluted cornice band punctuated with carved roundels;
- the recessed windows;
- the minimal detailing such as the band of medallions with motifs such as the maple leaf, the rose, thistle, shamrock, and fleur-de-lis, as well as the Canadian crests above the entrances;
- the interior plan including the public interiors and their lavish surviving finishes and ornaments.
The manner in which the Federal Building is compatible with the present character of its central business district setting in Windsor and is a well-known building in the area, as evidenced by:
- its overall scale, massing, and materials, which are compatible with its streetscape surroundings and adjacent buildings;
- its large scale, handsome design and prominent location in downtown Windsor, which makes it a familiar landmark in the city.