Description of Historic Place
The Federal Building in Kitchener is located between two small parks on Queen and Frederick Streets. The rectangular, modern classical structure is constructed of stone- clad concrete and features a central section with two projecting entry bays framed within classical pilasters and entablatures. The vertical thrust of the windows is balanced by a horizontal emphasis given by layers of stone that recede to the roofline. Sculpted bronze panels are located in window apertures between storeys. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Federal Building in Kitchener is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Federal Building in Kitchener is closely associated with the 1934 Public Works Construction Act (PWCA) which was designed to stimulate the economy during the Depression and to relieve unemployment. In the local development of Kitchener, construction of the building marked a time when this industrial city was beginning to make a modest recovery, stimulating demand for improved customs and postal facilities and for a permanent location for the Department of Defence and the Marine Department.
Valued for its very good aesthetics, the Federal Building in Kitchener is an example of the Modern Classical style used extensively by Public Works during this period. This good functional building demonstrates a very good use of crafts and materials, exemplified by the fine stonework and by the bronze work on the building’s exterior. Like many other Federal Buildings across the country, no individual is credited with its design. However, it reflects Public Works’ high standards for well built, carefully laid out buildings and quality workmanship.
The Federal Building in Kitchener maintains an unchanged relationship to its site and reinforces the business centre of Kitchener where it is a familiar city landmark.
Leslie Maitland, Federal Building, 15 Duke Street, Kitchener, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 89-089; Federal Building, 15 Duke Street, Kitchener, Ontario. Heritage Character Statement 89-089.
The character-defining elements of the Federal Building in Kitchener should be respected.
Its Modern Classical style and very good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the simple, classical formality of the two-storey, flat roofed, rectangular massing;
-the reinforced concrete construction faced with granite on the exposed basement, limestone on the three principal facades, and brick on the rear façade;
-the large, regularly spaced windows and other external decorative features, including the geometric motifs in the horizontal band that serves as the entablature, the thin layers of stone which delineate window openings and main entrances, the bronze light fixtures flanking the main entrances, the sculpted bronze panels located in window apertures between storeys and the building’s signature Coat of Arms and the rare ‘E.R.1937’ set in the centres of their respective entablatures;
-the interior layout in the ground floor rectangular plan, and the U-plan of the second-storey;
-the interior flooring materials of marble in the entrance vestibule, lobbies, stairs and thresholds, terrazzo in the public spaces, and linoleum and hardwood flooring in working spaces.
The manner in which the Federal Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the commercial centre of Kitchener and is a prominent city landmark, as evidenced by:
-its unchanged relationship to its site between two small parks in the city centre;
-its scale, and stone and bronze materials that complement the other downtown buildings;
-its visibility and familiarity given its prominent location and ongoing use as a post office and federal offices.