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National Research Council Canada Laboratories

100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/09/30

Façade of the National Research Council Canada Laboratories, showing the overall effect of monumentality, which is emphasized by the great length of the façade and by the execution in sandstone and granite, 1987.; (Janet Wright, Environment Canada - Architectural History Branch,  /  Environnement Canada, Direction de l'histoire de l'architecture, 1987.)
Side view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1930/01/01 to 1932/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/12/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) Laboratories is a large sandstone and granite building designed in a grand Beaux-arts style on a squared figure-8 plan. A finely crafted building, it is noted for the high quality of its materials and for the richness and sophistication of its exterior detailing. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The NRC Laboratories building was designated a Classified Federal Heritage Building for its historical associations, its architectural merit and its site qualities. Built to accommodate the National Research Council, the building marks that organization's transition from a volunteer coordinating body to an active research institute, and signifies government recognition of the value of such research as a basis for economic planning in the twentieth century. A well-executed example of the Beaux-Arts style, the building provides flexible, multiple laboratory space, with accommodation for support facilities and special research needs.
Although construction of this complex pre-dates the development of Sussex Drive as an official ceremonial route, the building integrates well with the post-1950 institutional character of its setting. The adjacent heating plant and power house complements this character.

Sources: Margaret Coleman, National Research Council Laboratory, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 87-042;National Research Council Laboratory, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 87-042.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage value of the NRC Laboratories building include:
- the Beaux-Arts classicism of the design;
- classical elements such as the entrance pavilions, the Roman Doric columns, the pediments and entablature;
- the overall effect of monumentality, which is emphasized by the great length of the façade and by the execution in sandstone and granite;
- the fine lines of the multi-paned steel casement windows, commonly used in Beaux-Arts buildings;
- the overall shape of the Laboratories Building, which is a squared figure eight, designed around two interior courtyards, and which is in keeping with Beaux-Arts planning principles;
- the richness of the materials in the public areas, including Travertine walls and coffered and painted ceilings;
- the design of the working areas of the laboratory building, characterized by utilitarianism and attention to safety;
- the large, well-landscaped site, which is located on Ottawa's official ceremonial route, Sussex Drive.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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