Public Works and Government Services Canada

Public Works and Government Services Canada

July 10, 2007 10:00 ET

PWGSC: Contract Award for Dominion Public Building Repair and Conservation Project Announced

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - July 10, 2007) - The Honourable Michael M Fortier, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, today announced the award of a $5.4 million contract for the repair and conservation of the tower on the Dominion Public Building in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Masontech Inc. of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The building houses the regional headquarters of Public Works and Government Services Canada and the offices of the Deputy Commissioner - Atlantic Region, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

"Canada's New Government values this historic landmark on the Halifax waterfront," said Minister Fortier. "The project will restore the heritage character of what was once Halifax's tallest skyscraper and extend its life well into the future."

The Dominion Public Building was completed in 1936 during the depression. It underwent a major refit in the early 1990s that garnered the 1993 Lieutenant Governor's Citation for Adaptive Reuse and Restoration. Since that time the building has been regularly maintained. However, the seven-storey tower is deteriorating, which impacts the integrity of the building.

This repair and conservation project reflects the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting its heritage properties, and to ensuring their long life and sustainability.

The safety and security of the building's employees and the general public is Public Works and Government Services Canada's first priority. This project will stabilize the steel supporting structure and sandstone cladding on the tower. The project may extend over a two-year period.

Public Works and Government Services Canada thanks the community of Halifax and the users of the Dominion Public Building for their cooperation and understanding during the restoration project. The department is asking that everyone respect the site restrictions that will be in place around the perimeter of the building.

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Bedford Row Tower Project

The Dominion Public Building at 1713 Bedford Row, Halifax completed in 1936, originally served as a sorting station and administrative offices for Canada Post until 1990. With its distinctive domed tower, it was the first 'skyscraper' to be constructed in Halifax. The structure is one of only two federal government buildings completed in the then British Commonwealth during the brief reign of Edward the Eighth. The Dominion Public Building has been designated as a "Recognized" federal heritage building and is also a Registered Municipal Heritage Property. A four-storey addition was constructed using sympathetic materials in the early 1960s.

The exterior is clad with granite at ground level and Wallace sandstone on the remaining fourteen floors. The decorative motifs evoke the Art Deco period from the cast bronze panels depicting fish, an automobile, train and ship to the geometric and somewhat Egyptian style motifs in sandstone surrounding the main entrance. The Federal Coat of Arms is displayed in relief on a raised parapet above the entrance. Eight nine-foot tall seahorses adorn the tower itself.

In 1991, Public Works and Government Services Canada completed a major renovation to convert the Dominion Public Building to general-purpose office space. At that time the main lobby areas were restored to their former glory. The hexagonal brass light fixtures were rescued from the basement, repaired and reinstalled. Perimeter marble walls were dismantled and remounted in their original positions. Brass postal wickets and doors were restored. Other special details including marble seahorse and shell mosaics, brass grills and terrazzo depictions of the Bluenose and compass have been preserved. In 1993, the department was awarded a Citation from the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor for Adaptive Reuse and Restoration of the Dominion Public Building.

Severe water leakage has affected the structural frame and masonry anchorages in the Tower. Rusting of masonry anchors has resulted in some displacement of the sandstone cladding compounded by the effects of freeze/thaw. Although intermittent and localized repointing has been performed on the exterior of the Tower, the root cause of stone displacement and joint failure has not been addressed. Restoration now will prevent serious displacement of the stonework and maintain the safety of the general public and building users.

As part of the project, the Wallace sandstone cladding will be removed and stored. The steel superstructure will be repaired. Then, the tower will be rebuilt to reflect its original character including a new copper roof on the dome. The project may take as long as two years to complete.

Sidewalk and parking access on Bedford Row is restricted. One lane of Bedford Row will remain open to traffic to allow access for delivery and emergency vehicles. A hoarding has been erected along the western face of the Dominion Public Building. It eliminates all parking along that side of the building.

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Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Fortier
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    Emery Peters
    Project Manager
    902 496-5057
    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    Media Relations