Description of Historic Place
Located in downtown Winnipeg, the Federal Building is an irregularly shaped, seven storey, stone structure with a vertically emphasized eleven storey angled tower which consists of a tall main arched entranceway, finely etched detailing and narrow pilasters that rise several storeys in height. Contrasting this are its two sides where the emphasis is more horizontal, enhanced by the directional pull of long rows of evenly spaced windows and the banding of different materials and texture. The building has a seven-foot band of polished granite at its base, topped by a single storey of bush-hammered limestone, punctuated by arched windows. Above there are six storeys of smooth limestone walls and plain rectangular windows topped with a band of stylized carving. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Federal Building is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
The Federal Building is one of the largest buildings constructed under Canada’s Public Works Construction Act of 1934 and represents a new type of office building that efficiently housed several departments under one roof. It was also one of a very few buildings constructed in Winnipeg during the Depression era and is one of the best examples of construction intended to alleviate the immediate and pressing problem of unemployment in Winnipeg. It was built as part of the 1932 unemployment relief program of the City of Winnipeg, employing all with the exception of one, local or provincial companies as general and sub-contractors. The influx of 1.5 million dollars in contracts plus significant numbers of jobs was a considerable benefit to the City of Winnipeg.
The Federal building is an excellent example of Classical Moderne Style reflected in the building’s massing, pronounced horizontality and contrasting verticality of the tower and its construction materials and craftsmanship. Its formal and symmetrical composition, exterior elevations, regionally inspired decoration, significant interior features and the use of Canadian materials characterize the building. Designed by George William Northwood a Winnipeg architect with the firm Northwood and Chivers, the building is one of the best examples of their public works and one of their largest commissions out of a number of notable Winnipeg private and public buildings constructed in the post World War I period.
The Federal Building is an attractive, prominently sited building whose age, appearance, location and public function reinforce the present character of downtown Winnipeg.
Distinguished by regionally inspired decoration and the use of Canadian materials, it is a physical landmark within Winnipeg and a major component of Main Street.
Kate MacFarlane, Federal Building, 269 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 89-109Federal Building, 269 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Heritage Character Statement 89-109.
The character defining elements of the Federal Building should be respected.
Its excellent Moderne Classical style, construction materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-its formal and symmetrical composition;
-its stepped massing, flat walls, and regionally inspired stylized decoration clustered around the entrance and first floor windows;
-its pronounced horizontality emphasized by the verticality of the tower and clear juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical elements;
-its smooth limestone walls with long rows of evenly spaced rectangular windows and band of stylized carving;
-its interior patterned marbled floors and steps, elevator surrounds, stone light brackets, gilded ceiling beams, glazing above entrance, bronze and glass railing, and stairwell walls of Manitoba limestone.
The manner in which the Federal Building reinforces the present character downtown Winnipeg and Main Street as a major component and physical landmark.