Description of Historic Place
The Asticou Centre consists of a twenty-six unit complex of buildings arranged in a roughly rectangular grid and linked by a network of corridors to form an interconnected, campus type layout. It was built in three stages beginning with the academic section (Blocks 100-1100), the common services facilities (Blocks 1200-1900) and the vocational section (Blocks 2000-2700). Blocks 1200-1900 consist of seven relatively low lying, two-storey buildings clad with mottled, dark red brick, exposed concrete and wood shingles and feature massive, truncated pyramidal and flat wood shingle roofs with deep, angled overhangs and corner cuts. Tucked into a rolling, park-like landscape, the Asticou Centre is located in an enclave of educational buildings and sits within the Gatineau Park. Blocks 1200-1900 are grouped together at the centre of the site. The designation is confined to the footprint of the buildings.
Blocks 1200-1900 together constitute a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of their historical associations, and their architectural and environmental values.
Through its initial use as a vocational and academic secondary school, the Asticou Centre is a convenient example of fundamental changes to Québec secondary education, stemming from major legislation passed in 1961. The Centre’s early and current use as a federal government language training facility also makes it a useful illustration of federal government expansion in the 1960s and of the need for government training facilities following the passage of the Official Languages Act, which made bilingualism a requirement for federal public servants beginning in the 1970s. As the first secondary school in Hull, now part of the amalgamated City of Gatineau, the Asticou Centre was built to serve a large region of potential students and is a very good illustration of the community’s suburban expansion.
Blocks 1200-1900 form the third phase of construction at the Asticou Centre and are a good example of the blending of several architectural styles and trends popular in Canadian architecture during the 1960s, in particular, the influence of the Brutalist style. Visually cohesive, Blocks 1200-1900 are characterized by a weighty, monolithic massing and substantial forms, clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and the expression of fundamentalist qualities. The Asticou Centre was also designed to reflect new philosophies in Québec education including the creation of schools designed to promote teaching productivity, encourage teamwork and stimulate individual learning. Blocks 1200-1900 clearly express this ambitious and complex pedagogical program through the human scale of the architecture, the harmony of the design with the surrounding natural environment, the good functional quality of the blocks which are arranged into clear functional groupings, and the careful choice and combination of good quality materials used to create a sense of warmth, scale and harmony. The Prairie style, organic American architecture, West Coast architecture and a modern rustic vernacular found throughout Québec influenced these aspects of the design.
A low lying complex of buildings tucked into a rolling park-like landscape, the Asticou Centre reinforces the present character of the area, which is composed of a band of institutional buildings situated between a suburban neighbourhood and a large natural park within the National Capital Region. Blocks 1200-1900 are grouped together at the center of the site, immediately adjacent to the first phase (Blocks 100-1100) and the second phase (Blocks 2000-2700), and are surrounded by large, open, landscaped lawns and mature trees. The Asticou Centre is recognized throughout the National Capital Region as a federal language training facility due to the large number of federal public servants and residents who have frequented the establishment.
Sources: Kate MacFarlane, Centre Asticou, 241 Cité des jeunes, Gatineau, Québec, Federal Heritage Building Report 04-061; Blocks 1200-1900, Centre Asticou, 241 Cité des jeunes, Gatineau, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 04-061.
The character-defining elements of Blocks 1200-1900 should be respected.
The manner in which its design illustrates the historical theme of fundamental changes to Québec secondary education including the creation of schools designed to promote teaching productivity, encourage teamwork and stimulate individual learning as expressed in:
-the human scale of the architecture;
-the arrangement of the complex into clear functional groupings and their interior layouts;
-the harmonious interaction between the building and the natural, park-like surroundings;
-the blending of several styles popular in Canadian architecture in the 1960s.
Its very good aesthetic design, which blends together elements from the Brutalist Style, as well as the Prairie style, organic American architecture, West Coast architecture and a modern rustic vernacular found throughout Québec, its good functional quality and its good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-the low height and weighty massing achieved by the massive truncated roofs supported by angled overhanging brackets and eaves with corner or dormer cuts, and large, solid, brick panels or shingle clad walls with few windows;
-the clean lines and minimal ornamentation;
-the fundamentalist qualities, such as the exposed exterior ducts at Block 1500;
-the bold building entrances, in particular at Block 1300, the main reception building, where a flat concrete roof supported by concrete columns projects over the entry, to create a deep bay backed by a wall of glass;
-the distinctive visual quality of Blocks 1700 and 1800, tall, single-storey structures clad in wood shingles, set on pyramidal bases with heavy, box-like, overhanging roofs;
-the arrangement of the complex into clear functional groupings;
-the interior layouts, which allow for a variety of educational experiences, including group classrooms, meeting rooms and individual study areas;
-the open, well-lit and fluid design of the interior spaces including the double height spaces of Blocks 1300 and 1900, and 1700 and 1800 which also feature exposed wood trusses;
-the picture windows looking out to the grounds or the inner courtyards, which provide glimpses to the exterior’s natural environment;
-the wide, well-lit corridors and spacious cafeteria with their wood plank and beam ceilings;
-the visually cohesive relationship between the buildings due to their consistent choice of warm, natural materials and detailing such as cedar shingles and mottled, dark red brick, and the contrasting exposed concrete elements and black metal trim;
-the external and internal expression of the wood post and beam construction including the exposed cross beams under the rooflines of some of the buildings;
-the connection details between elements of different materials, in particular the expressed steel angles and brackets connecting elements of the wood structure;
-the functional choice of interior materials, such as the concrete block walls.
The manner in which the building reinforces the character of the area, composed of a band of institutional buildings situated between a suburban neighbourhood and a large natural park, as well as its symbolic landmark value as evidenced in:
- its visual harmony with the surrounding natural environment owing to its scale, relatively low horizontal massing and choice of materials;
- its location and role as a buffer zone at the edge of Gatineau Park;
- its identity and familiarity to federal public servants and residents as a federal language training facility.