MTBA conducted a review that includes a detailed building condition report, systems performance evaluation, strategic planning & intervention management, design concepts and more for this 3,000 square meter (32,000 sqft) two-building complex, directly across from Canada’s Parliament Buildings. The limestone Chancery (c.1928-1932) has “Classified” (top level) Federal heritage status; the sandstone former Union Bank Building (c. 1887-1888) has “Recognized” (second level) Federal heritage status.
The former U.S. Embassy Chancery is a highly refined Beaux Arts design from one of the leading U.S. architects of the day, Cass Gilbert, Jr. It was built to house the U.S. legation, the first foreign mission at Ottawa and thus a benchmark in Canada’s independence story. Occupying a prominent site opposite the main gates of Parliament, it is both a distinguished feature of Wellington Street and a key element of Ottawa’s architectural history. The former Union Bank Building, eventually used as office space for the U.S. Embassy, represents the last vestige of Ottawa’s late nineteenth century “Bankers Row” on the south side of Wellington Street across from Parliament.
The commission was undertaken to provide high-level information to PWGSC as it prepared to purchase the property for a new Canadian Federal use. PWGSC turned to Mark Brandt to direct and execute this strategic management plan. Recommendations included two phases of improvements over three years, including virtually all building elements and systems, at projected costs (in 1997 dollars) of almost $4 million. It included conservation of historic interiors (such as public spaces and ambassador’s offices) and exteriors (principally fine masonry work).