Description of Historic Place
The Government of Canada Building (GOCB), located in the town of Bonavista, is a modern flat-roof building composed of three principal blocks constructed with reinforced concrete. Designed under the influence of the International Style, it is distinguished by the use of smooth, flat cement surfaces without decorative detailing and by the slightly recessed fenestration, framed by parged pilasters. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The GOCB in Bonavista is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The GOCB in Bonavista is associated with the growth of government services, particularly in the post-Second World War period. The building illustrates the extension of federal government services to Newfoundland following Confederation in 1949. It was the first new building to be erected for federal government use in Newfoundland.
The GOCB in Bonavista is a good example of a modern federal building designed under the influence of the International Style in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The influence of the International Style is evident in the asymmetrical juxtapositions of simple cubes, the preference for smooth surfaces, and the use of modern materials without ornamentation.
The GOCB in Bonavista is compatible with the present character within its town setting. It occupies a prominent position in Bonavista and as such is a well-known building in the region.
Fern Graham, Government of Canada Building, Bonavista, Newfoundland, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 99-037; Government of Canada Building, Bonavista, Newfoundland, Heritage Character Statement, 99-037.
The following character-defining elements of the GOCB in Bonavista should be respected.
Its modern design with International Style influence, for example:
-the influence of the International Style, as expressed in the simple cubic volumes whose forms represent the building’s functions;
-the asymmetrical juxtaposition of the volumes, the use of smooth, flat, cement surfaces without decorative detailing, and the simplicity and abstraction of all components;
-the slightly recessed fenestration, framed by parged pilasters, on the two-storey, northeast elevation and the one-storey façade;
-the use of solid but standard construction techniques and materials of the time. These include: a reinforced, concrete, steel frame clad with cement parging, metal windows and entrances, precast spandrel inserts, wood wainscoting in the stairwells and corridors, and terrazzo floors.
The manner in which the building is compatible with the present character of its town setting, and is a well known building in the region, as evidenced by:
-its prominent position and compatibility with other buildings in the town, as expressed by its contextually large scale and its central location close to other significant town properties;
-its high visibility and familiarity as a public building in the centre of town.