CBC Building

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Ottawa, Ontario
Detail view of the CBC Building, showing the entrance pavilion’s stand-alone, flared white concrete canopy, 2002. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Michel Pelletier, 2002.
Detail view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Michel Pelletier, 2002.
Façade of the CBC Building, showing the horizontality expressed in the glazed curtain walls, 2001. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Andrew Waldron, 2001.Detail view of the CBC Building, showing the entrance pavilion’s stand-alone, flared white concrete canopy, 2002. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Michel Pelletier, 2002.Detail view of the CBC Building, showing the sophistication of the three, identical parabolic elevations, 2002. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Michel Pelletier, 2002.
Address : 1500 Bronson Avenue, Confederation Heights, Ottawa, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 2002-11-07
Dates:
  • 1961 to 1964 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • David Gordon McKinstry  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Edward Drake Building  (Other Name)
  • Former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Head Office  (Other Name)
Custodian: Public Works and Government Services Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 01-049
DFRP Number: 57718 00

Description of Historic Place

The CBC Building is a modern, six-storey, flat roofed reinforced concrete and steel structure with a flared “Y”-shaped footprint that features glazed elevations with granite spandrel panels, monumental, blind stone-clad wing walls, and a flared white roof and entrance canopy. Set in a modern, park-like landscape, at the crest of a hill on Bronson Avenue, the CBC Building’s three wings extend east, west and south in parabolic curves, and its main elevation faces north. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The CBC Building is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value:
The CBC Building is associated with the centralization of the administration of a national public broadcasting network. The CBC Building was designed as part of the consolidation of the ever-expanding national offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from various buildings located around Ottawa’s downtown core to one larger building. The CBC Building is also a later example of the development of Confederation Heights as a new urban node of federal institutions in Ottawa.

Architectural value:
The CBC Building is one of the best examples of Canadian modern architecture, particularly in its representation of the expressionist strain of modernism. Designed by David Gordon McKinstry, the Chief Architect of the CBC and a renowned acoustician, the functional design of the CBC Building is characterized by a “quiet” ventilation system, an efficient interior layout consisting of offices, each of which has its own window, centrally located services, and the stairwells at the building wingtips. The CBC Building is constructed of luxurious, high quality materials particularly on the exterior facades and at the interior of the entrance pavilion, and features a high level of craftsmanship and sophisticated detailing.

Environmental value:
The CBC Building is located in an open, modern park-like landscape, at the crest of a hill on Bronson Avenue, and is accessed by its own driveway. The CBC Building reinforces the sophisticated urban character of the campus-like setting of Confederation Heights through its striking and unique form, and its luxurious materials. Its modern landscaping remains virtually unchanged since its construction. The CBC Building has a strong presence in the landscape and is visible from many vantage points, particularly along the road to and from the airport, making it a visual landmark to visitors to Ottawa, as well as a familiar landmark to the community of Confederation Heights and the residents of Ottawa.

Sources:
Michel Pelletier, Former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Head Office (CBC Building), Ottawa, Ontario. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office 01-049;CBC Building, Ottawa, Ontario. Heritage Character Statement 01-049.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the CBC Building should be respected.

Its role as an illustration of the centralization of the administration of a national public broadcasting network is reflected in: the building’s architectural design which was purpose-built for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Its modern, expressionist aesthetic, functional design, and the high quality materials and fine craftsmanship as manifested in: the building’s monumental scale and sculptural quality; the geometric purity of the building’s unique, flared “Y”-shaped form and the sophistication of the three, identical parabolic elevations; the horizontality expressed in the glazed curtain walls with dark mullions, the granite spandrel panels which create a banding effect, the use of subtle metal banding at the roofline, and the recessed penthouse and flared roof canopy; the play between the transparency of the horizontal, glazed curtain walls and the solidity of the vertical, windowless and monumental stone-clad wing walls; the dynamic and expressive qualities of the flared “Y”-shaped, white concrete roof canopy on pilotis and the entrance pavilion’s stand-alone, flared white concrete canopy; the acoustic design of the building’s “quiet” ventilation system; the efficiency of the interior layout owing to the centrally located services, the placement of the lozenge-shaped stairwells at the wingtips, and the placement of the columns which optimize floor space and allow each of the offices to have its own window; the use of luxurious, high quality exterior materials which convey the prestige of the institution such as the “Kingston Hue” Canadian sandstone in sand-honed finish on the slab-like wing walls and for inlays at the entrance pavilion, and the complex installation of the “Stanstead Grey” granite spandrel panels on the parabolic elevations; the sophistication of the detailing at the entrance pavilion including the “Stanstead Grey” granite stepped base which is engraved with the Greek key pattern; and, the use of teak, stainless steel, Carrera marble, marble terrazzo flooring and “Radio Black” marble for the interior of the entrance pavilion and lobby.

The manner in which the building reinforces the sophisticated urban character of the campus-like setting of Confederation Heights as evidenced in: its location in an open, modern, park-like landscape which allows it to be viewed as an object in-the-round from many vantage points; its striking appearance owing to its unique, sculptural form, monumental scale, and luxurious materials; and, its visual landmark value owing to its location at the crest of a hill, at this prominent location within Confederation Heights, and along Bronson Avenue near the approaches to the Ottawa Airport Parkway.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - 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.

Reasons for Designation
The Edward Drake Building is a “Classified” Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value
The Edward Drake Building is associated with the centralization of the administration of a national public broadcasting network. The Edward Drake Building was designed as part of the consolidation of the ever-expanding national offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from various buildings located around Ottawa’s downtown core to one larger building. The Edward Drake Building is also a later example of the development of Confederation Heights as a new urban node of federal institutions in Ottawa.

Architectural value
The Edward Drake Building is one of the best examples of Canadian modern architecture, particularly in its representation of the expressionist strain of modernism. The former CBC Head Office is a six-storey, flat roofed reinforced concrete and steel structure with a flared “Y”-shaped footprint that features a flared white roof and entrance canopy, glazed elevations with granite spandrel panels, and monumental, blind stone-clad wing walls. Designed by David Gordon McKinstry, the Chief Architect of the CBC and a renowned acoustician, the functional design of the Edward Drake Building is characterized by a “quiet” ventilation system, an efficient interior layout consisting of offices, each of which has its own window, centrally located services, and the stairwells at the building wingtips. The Edward Drake Building is constructed of luxurious, high quality materials particularly on the exterior facades and at the interior of the entrance pavilion, and features a high level of craftsmanship and sophisticated detailing.

Environmental value
The Edward Drake Building is located in an open, modern park-like landscape, at the crest of a hill on Bronson Avenue, and is accessed by its own driveway. The Edward Drake Building reinforces the sophisticated urban character of the campus-like setting of Confederation Heights through its striking and unique form, and its luxurious materials. Its modern landscaping remains virtually unchanged since its construction. The Edward Drake Building has a strong presence in the landscape and is visible from many vantage points, particularly along the road to and from the airport, making it a visual landmark to visitors to Ottawa, as well as a familiar landmark to the community of Confederation Heights and the residents of Ottawa.

Character-Defining Elements
The following character-defining elements of the Edward Drake Building should be respected:

Its role as an illustration of the centralization of the administration of a national public broadcasting network is reflected in:
- the building’s architectural design which was purpose-built for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Its modern, expressionist aesthetic, functional design, and the high quality materials and fine craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the building’s monumental scale and sculptural quality;
- the geometric purity of the building’s unique, flared “Y”-shaped form and the sophistication of the three, identical parabolic elevations;
- the horizontality expressed in the glazed curtain walls with dark mullions, the granite spandrel panels which create a banding effect, the use of subtle metal banding at the roofline, and the recessed penthouse and flared roof canopy;
- the play between the transparency of the horizontal, glazed curtain walls and the solidity of the vertical, windowless and monumental stone-clad wing walls;
- the dynamic and expressive qualities of the flared “Y”-shaped, white concrete roof canopy on pilotis and the entrance pavilion’s stand-alone, flared white concrete canopy;
- the acoustic design of the building’s “quiet” ventilation system;
- the efficiency of the interior layout owing to the centrally located services, the placement of the lozenge-shaped stairwells at the wingtips, and the placement of the columns which optimize floor space and allow each of the offices to have its own window;
- the use of luxurious, high quality exterior materials which convey the prestige of the institution such as the “Kingston Hue” Canadian sandstone in sand-honed finish on the slab-like wing walls and for inlays at the entrance pavilion, and the complex installation of the “Stanstead Grey” granite spandrel panels on the parabolic elevations;
- the sophistication of the detailing at the entrance pavilion including the “Stanstead Grey” granite stepped base which is engraved with the Greek key pattern; and,
- the use of teak, stainless steel, Carrera marble, marble terrazzo flooring and “Radio Black” marble for the interior of the entrance pavilion and lobby.

The manner in which the building reinforces the sophisticated urban character of the campus-like setting of Confederation Heights as evidenced in:
- its location in an open, modern, park-like landscape which allows it to be viewed as an object in-the-round from many vantage points;
- its striking appearance owing to its unique, sculptural form, monumental scale, and luxurious materials; and,
- its visual landmark value owing to its location at the crest of a hill, at this prominent location within Confederation Heights, and along Bronson Avenue near the approaches to the Ottawa Airport Parkway.