Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Places

Buildings

Woodsworth Building

Address:405 Broadway Avenue
Use:Provincial Government Offices
Original Use:Institutional
Constructed:1973-76
Other Work:1974, Pedestrian walkway to law courts building constructed
1976, Two storey addition (14th and 15th floors)
Architects:E. J. Smith
Firms:Smith Carter Partners
Engineers:R. T. Seepish
Contractors:Poole Construction Ltd.

More Information

405 Broadway is formally known as the Woodsworth Building. Constructed by the NDP government of Premier Ed Shreyer for use as provincial government offices, the building is named for James Shaver Woodsworth. The former Methodist minister was widely respected and honoured for his role as a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) reformer and his dedication to social reform during his tenure in parliament, representing the federal constituency of Winnipeg North Centre from 1921 to 1942. A sculpted bust of J.S. Woodsworth, by artist Leo Mol, is located on the main floor of the building, which was officially dedicated to Woodsworth’s honour on 29 July 1974, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Initially designed to be fifteen storeys, and a landmark on Broadway by nature of scale as well as design, the building is uniquely angled on its lot to face the Provincial Legislature. The building is finished on all four sides in sea-green glass and silver spandrel panels, with each corner segmented to soften the angle. The entryway is inset on the southwest corner, while the southeast corner comes right to grade in green glass, inviting passersby to the large public cafeteria inside.

Of historical interest is the civic debate over the tower’s height, as legislators had proposed a maximum building height for the area. Eventually, construction was allowed to go ahead with the proposed height.

The overpass across Kennedy Street to the Law Courts Building was constructed in 1974. There was considerable criticism at the time as the contemporary skywalk had a very negative impact on the historic Law Courts Building. Originally the connection was to be underground but sadly the cheaper alternative was chosen.

Significant Dates

  • July 29, 1974: A sculpted bust of J. S. Woodsworth by artist Leo Mol was installed in the main floor of the building, which was officially to his honour on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Design Characteristics

  • Steel frame and concrete
  • 15 storeys in addition to a basement
  • Finished on all four facades with sea green glass and silver spandrel panels, exposing the core and steel frame of the building
  • Uniquely angled on its lot, the Woodsworth building directly faces the provincial legislature
  • At 15 storeys, the building is one of the tallest on Broadway, a point of contention with the city of Winnipeg, who was attempting to pass a bylaw restricting the height of buildings on Broadway during the period in which the Woodsworth building was being constructed

Sources

  • Terence Moore, "Tall buildings on the way out," Winnipeg Free Press, July 15, 1986, p. 7.
  • Debbie Sproat, "MacInnis praises new building as living memorial to Woodsworth," Winnipeg Free Press, September 1, 1976, p. 4.
  • Alice Krueger, "Doern denies Woodsworth block too high," Winnipeg Free Press, February 14, 1976.
  • Arlene Billinkoff, "Woodsworth Building primping for $15,000 art," Winnipeg Free Press, June 28, 1976, p. 22.
  • "Woodsworth Building opens," Winnipeg Free Press, September 1, 1976, p. 6.