Engineering Research Building #94
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Cosimo Zacconi, 1995.
Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site, Ottawa, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1936 to 1937
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Public Works
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Engineering Research Building is located at the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) in Ottawa. The building consists of a two-and-a-half storey office block with a shingled, hipped roof with dormers and a long, two-storey workshop with a metal covered hipped and gabled roof. Inspired by the farms architectural vocabulary, the office block is clad in brick and stucco while the open concept workshop section is clad in brick. The building’s principal façade is distinguished by its arched entrance, stone details and centre, gabled parapet. Large multi-pane windows provide light and ventilation to the workshop. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Engineering Research Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
Engineering Research Building is closely associated with Canada’s experimental farm system and its role in agricultural research and education. The building was used to design, construct and test highly specialized agricultural machines at a time when machines began to replace manual labour on Canadian farms. The building was also used for testing materials and designs recommended by the Department of Agriculture for agricultural buildings and farm planning. Built specifically for programs associated with agricultural research, Engineering Research Building also represents the CEF’s development as an experimental farm with an emphasis on research and testing.
Engineering Research Building is valued for its good aesthetic qualities. The building combines modern architectural design features with Beaux-Arts principles and Tudor-Revival details. The Beaux-Arts influence is evidenced in the building’s symmetry and axial planning for its office space section. Modern features, including its metal frame and large, multi-pane windows, allowed for ample natural light and ventilation and provided a good, functional, open-concept work area. Details executed in the Tudor-Revival style, such as the brick and stucco work, the arched entrance, gables and dormers, are in keeping with the architectural program of the farm and reveal good craftsmanship.
Engineering Research Building is compatible with the agricultural character of its experimental farm setting and is a familiar building within the immediate area.
Sources: Cosimo Zacconi, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, SCR 97-035; Engineering Research Building, Building 94, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 97-035.
The following character-defining elements of the Engineering Research Building should be respected.
Its good aesthetic design, good functional design and good materials and
craftsmanship, for example: the building’s composition, which consists of a two-and-a-half storey office block with a shingled, hipped roof with dormers and joined to a long, two-storey workshop section with a metal covered, hipped and gabled roof; the projecting brick chimney and three metal ventilation pipe chimneys; the metal frame construction; the Tudor-Revival features of the office section, including the brick and stucco cladding, the flat arches, the stone lintels, keystones and gabled parapet, the semi- circular window, and the arched entrance; the symmetry and axial planning of the office section, which speaks to its Beaux-Arts principles; the distinct, unornamented, brick clad volume of the large, open-concept workshop section; the large multi-pane windows, the two, wide bay doors, one of which is surmounted by a large semi-circular window; the foundation walls that are evidence of the 1890 root cellar.
The manner in which the Engineering Research Building is compatible with the agricultural character of its experimental farm setting and is a neighbourhood landmark, as evidenced by: its overall design, brick and stucco cladding and Tudor Revival details, which are consistent with CEF buildings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; its importance as part of a group of research and science buildings located at the farm,
which makes it a familiar building to visitors and employees.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Engineering Research Building, Building #94
Central Experimental Farm (CEF)
Building #94 was constructed in 1936-7 as a farm machinery building for the Central Experimental Farm (CEF). The structure comprises a two-and-a-half-storey office section and a two-storey workshop section. It was designed by the Federal Department of Public Works in 1935. The building has been altered by the addition of a small, one-storey mechanical services section in the 1970s, the replacement of all office section windows and second-floor workshop windows, and the installation of single-pane thermal windows in front of the original ground-floor workshop windows, rendering them inoperable for ventilation purposes. One of the building's four large sheet-metal roof vents has been removed. Non-structural, full-height partitions have been installed on the second floor of the workshop section. The foundation of a root house dating from c 1890 is extant and visible within the perimeter of the 1936-7 basement. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is the custodian. The building will become offices and public space for the National Museum of Science and Technology in 2002. The structure is a Level 1 cultural resource located within the core of the Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site.
Reasons for Designation
Building #94 has been designated 'Recognized' because of its historical, architectural and environmental significance.
Building #94 is closely associated with two nationally significant themes: the Canadian Department of Agriculture's contributions to agricultural research and education through the experimental farm system, and the creation of a distinctive cultural landscape at the Central Experimental Farm (CEF). Building #94 was used to design, build and test highly-specialized farm machines, at a time when mechanized farming implements were increasingly replacing manual chores on Canadian farms. It was also used to test designs and materials for agricultural buildings recommended by the Department of Agriculture's Farm Plan Service.
The reorganization of the Department of Agriculture's Research Services Branch in the 1930s led to the end of the model farm role for the CEF and to the construction of new buildings to accommodate laboratories and offices. Building #94 symbolizes this change. It was designed and built specifically to support agricultural research programs. The building's institutional appearance reflects the Department of Agriculture's increasing emphasis on research over demonstration.
Building #94 represents a hybrid of Beaux-Arts and Modern architectural principles, softened by the restrained use of Tudor detailing. The Beaux-Arts influence is evident in the symmetry and axial plan of the office section of the building. Modern principles of architectural and industrial design are evident in the restrained use of ornamentation, the steel-frame construction system, and the functional design of the workshop section. A series of large, multi-pane windows provided natural light and ventilation. Steel beams permit a clear span of the 45-foot width, creating a large interior space and structural strength. The institutional appearance of Building #94 is partially softened through the restrained use of Tudor Revival elements on the office section, connecting it to contemporaneous CEF buildings.
The relationship between Building #94 and its immediate landscape is unchanged. Most of the adjacent buildings, including the Main Barn pre-date Building #94. The long use of this site for CEF purposes is demonstrated by the foundation walls of a c 1890 root cellar exposed in the basement of the building. The driveway to the overhead door repeats a pattern of use for this sloped site that began in the 1880s with the construction of the first machine shop. Due to its design, location and age, Building #94 makes an important contribution to the CEF's status as an historic landmark.
The heritage character of Building #94 resides in the following character-defining elements:
- The primarily institutional appearance of Building #94, reflecting the shift in purpose of the CEF from model farm to research station.
- The symmetry and axial plan of the office section of the building, in keeping with Beaux-Arts principles.
- The steel-frame construction, expansive interior spaces (currently masked by interior partitions), restrained ornamentation and distinctive massing of the two component parts, in keeping with Modern design principles.
- The three, extant, large, sheet-metal, roof vents, and the large, multi-pane windows of the workshop section, which articulate the original function of the building.
- The restrained use of Tudor Revival elements on the office section of the building, including: stone lintels, keystones and gable caps, brick and stucco cladding, semi-circular windows, a hipped roof with dormers, and an arched main entrance. A decorative gable on the office section facade is repeated in the decorative gables of the workshop section.
- The location of Building # 94 within the central core of the CEF, as part of a mixed group of medium-scale, early 20th-century buildings that add complexity to the landscape without overwhelming the primary landscape feature, the Main Barn.
- The extant foundation walls of a c 1890 root cellar in the basement of Building #94.
- The driveway to the overhead door, following the established pattern of use for this site.
All maintenance and repair work, as well as future interventions, should respect these character-defining elements.