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Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A

568 Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/07/07

Corner view of the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A, 1988.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, S. Ricketts, 1988.
Corner view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1942/01/01 to 1952/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located prominently at the Booth Street Complex, the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory (Buildings A, B, C, D and E) is a group of five attached buildings that form a larger complex of offices and laboratories. The structure consists of five identifiable, flat-roofed units linked in a U-shaped plan. They are long, rectangular structures with façades clad in smooth brick with horizontal rows of window openings, precast lintels and string courses. The decoration is limited to the cleanly defined entry bay, which stands out from the overall horizontal character and gives the building prominence on Booth Street. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A, as part of the Booth Street Complex, is one of the best examples of a building associated with the development of Canadian mining and energy industries during the first half of the twentieth century. The World War II effort demanded new sources of energy, strategic minerals and gold. These objectives resulted in the erection of the laboratories, the last components of the original Booth Street compound. Three buildings (A, B, and C) were initially erected, followed by the construction of two additional buildings D and E, as a result of the pressure for expanded research into metal forming and fabrication in the post war years. During these years, the Department of Mines involved itself in the investigation of fabrication techniques, in support of manufacturing and production activity, and provided continuing technical assistance to the mining and metallurgical industries during a period of significant technological growth.

Architectural Value
The Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A is valued for its good aesthetic and very good functional design. It is an example of a restrained classicized style characteristic of institutional functionalism. The original three buildings reflect a logical division of access points, offices and various sizes of laboratories. The flexibility inherent in the design has accommodated changing technologies with fully enclosed offices and more open laboratory spaces. The building’s design marks a shift to a more modernist approach which was both typical of federal design in the 1940s and 1950s and indicative of the nature of architect W.E. Noffke’s own approach to office design from that time. His consistent use of brick and concrete buildings materials has skillfully linked the buildings with the earlier buildings in the complex while moving toward a more stripped down modernism in their ornament and massing.

Environmental Value
The Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A maintains an unchanged relationship to its site and reinforces the institutional character of its research complex setting. The building is familiar within the immediate area.

Sources: Shannon Ricketts, Physical Metallurgy Laboratories, Booth Street Complex, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 87-108; Physical Metallurgy Laboratories, EMR Complex, Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 87-108.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A should be respected.

Its good aesthetic and very functional design and good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the two- and three-storey massing, and U-shaped plan, which consists of five long rectangular, flat-roofed structures;
-the façades clad in smooth brick with precast lintels and stringcourses;
-the cleanly defined main entry bay with vertical stone pilasters;
-the rows of regular window openings;
-the functional interior with fully enclosed offices and open laboratory spaces.

The manner in which the Physical Metallurgy Laboratory, Building A maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the institutional character of its research complex setting and is familiar in the immediate area, as evidenced by:
-its ongoing relationship to its site and associated buildings within the larger complex;
-its overall scale, massing, design and materials, which harmonize with the group of buildings at the complex bounded by Booth, Lydia, Rochester and Norman streets;
-its visibility in the immediate area due to its scale, massing and prominent main entrance on Booth Street.




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



Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer

W. E. Noffke



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




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