Winnipeg Architecture: Broadway Modern

by Emily G Doucet & Susan Algie
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Historic photo from The Winnipeg Tribune

Introduction

Broadway between Main Street and Osborne Street has long been an address of prestige, bookended by two dominant, significant works of architecture—Union Station to the east and the Manitoba Legislative Building to the west. The early history of the avenue was as a desirable residential neighborhood, with little commercial activity. A building boom in the late 1950s to early 1970s, however, was responsible for the development of the Broadway as we know it.

The avenue had for many years been home to the Bank of Montreal’s tennis club, the old Dominion Bank and a variety of residential apartment complexes, including the Tweedsmuir. While Broadway itself consisted of a mix of big homes, small enterprises, prestigious apartments and institutions such as St. John’s College, the area also functioned as a demarcation between commercial development to the north and a quiet residential enclave south to the Assiniboine River.

The boulevard was originally designed to have a formal, almost European look with a broad central median and with the aforementioned large civic points of interest on either end. The area was one of Winnipeg’s earliest and most exclusive residential districts, known as the Hudson’s Bay Reserve. The Government of Canada granted the large block of land near Upper Fort Garry to the Hudson’s Bay Company, after much of the surrounding territory became crown property. Cottages and other small structures appeared as early as 1873, and by the 1880s, many of the developing city’s wealthiest families had chosen to build their homes in the area. However, in the early twentieth century, as a number of areas around the city began to develop as alternative wealthy residential areas­—Armstrong’s Point, Fort Rouge, Crescentwood, Wolseley and River Heights—many of Winnipeg’s elite families relocated to homes further from the city centre.

Broadway (by The Winnipeg Tribune)

As in many cities, there was initially a large local opposition to the proposed development of apartment blocks in the area; however, dissent was quickly overcome and numerous luxurious multi-family complexes were constructed along Broadway. Many of the occupants were business people and government workers, from nearby establishments. While these luxurious apartment complexes remained popular during the early part of the twentieth century, the wealthy families of Winnipeg continued the move out of the immediate downtown area, causing a drastic demographic change. Over the following decades, many of the gracious homes in the downtown were subdivided into rooming houses, or torn down, paving the way for the development of the area as a predominantly commercial rather than residential district.

Among numerous forward thinking local developers, the locally based but British-funded development firm, Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC) was one of the earliest groups committed to making Broadway the “Wall Street of the West”, due to the perceived obsolescence of downtown Winnipeg office buildings in the late 1950s. Prominent corporations such as Investors Company, Monarch Life and Sovereign Life insurance companies paved the way for an increasing number of businesses to establish themselves on the Broadway.

This tour will focus on the post-1945 development of the area as a premier business district and a collection of modernist architecture designed by some of Winnipeg’s most notable firms.

We suggest that you begin the tour at the east end of Broadway (at Main Street). Notice the variety of architectural styles in the structures of Union Station, the ruins at Upper Fort Garry, Manitoba Club and the Fort Garry Hotel. All of these structures provide an interesting stylistic contrast to the Modernist buildings discussed later in this tour.

Non-Modernist Sites

Union Station

123 Main Street

1911
Warren and Wetmore
Union Station (by Bloom Bros)

Built in 1908–11 to the designs of the New York architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore, Union Station is one of the finest examples of a Beaux-Arts-style railway station in Canada. It now houses an active passenger rail station as well as mixed-use commercial/office space.

Upper Fort Garry Gate

130 Main Street

1835
Architect unknown
Upper Fort Garry Gate (by J Hazard)

Upper Fort Garry Gate is a multi-level shell structure, built of limestone and wood in 1853, with a reconstructed wooden section recalling the placement of the original fort walls. Also called the Governor’s Gate, it is one of the few nineteenth-century structures that remain in Winnipeg to recall the city’s earliest period of commercial development. The gate is a remnant of a large Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) complex, Upper Fort Garry, strategically situated on major river transport routes and for several decades in the 1800s the economic, political and social centre of the Red River Settlement.

Manitoba Club

194 Broadway

1905
S. Frank Peters, Architect
Manitoba Club (by Winnipeg Free Press), 2019

The Manitoba Club is an excellent example of the Neo-Classical or Classical Revival style, which as the name suggests, was a redefinition and revisiting of classical architecture form and ornamentation. Popular from 1900 into the 1930s in North America, its designs included columns, capitals, pediments and Greek or Roman embellishments. Main symmetrical with smooth cladding and rooflines flat. Windows and doors were placed in both lintelled and arched openings; the latter was especially prevalent in the most ornamentally complex variant of the style, Beaux-Arts Classicism.

Clad in dark stone portico entrance with fluted columns, complete entablature and deck with stone balustrade, rectilinear window openings (newer window units) with stone keystones and sills, brick quoins, complete entablatures topped by a brick element punctuated with carved stone panels in the central section and numerous windowed hipped gable dormers on the low-pitched roofs of the central area and projectin  ends.

The continue the cladding, design and ornamentation of the front façade, although most of the dormers on the west slope are of eyebrow design.

The rear, which has seen several alterations and additions, includes much of the same architectural features of the other three elevations.

The present-day club building has seen numerous additions to the original structure, which was built between 1904 and 1905. This structure, measured approximately 29.9 × 25.3 metres and cost $90,000 to build It featured solid dark-hued brick exterior walls resting on a stone foundation.

A 2007 renovation of the building was designed by LM Architectural Group.

Fort Garry Hotel

222 Broadway

1913
Ross and MacFarlane
Fort Garry Hotel (by Tourism Winnipeg), 2018

The Fort Garry Hotel is unique in Manitoba, a surviving grand hotel from an era when such buildings were at the pinnacle of architectural achievement. Designed by the notable Montreal firm of Ross and MacFarlane, the hotel is the province’s sole example of the Château style, an architecture that came to be seen as distinctly Canadian, combining qualities of the French Gothic with a strong Canadian impulse for large, dramatic architectural gestures. In its grand and luxurious public spaces the Fort Garry Hotel retains high levels of integrity in the display of a variety of expensive features, materials and finishes.

Broadway Modern: The Tour

Choose a side of the street for the tour (or criss-cross!) as both sidewalks offer unique but equally enjoyable vantage points for viewing the buildings in question. Even-numbered addresses are on the south side of the avenue while the odd-numbered addresses are located on the north side.

1

Wawanesa Building

191 Broadway

1976
Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership and Charles Bentall Architect
191 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation), 2013

On September 25, 1896, the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company was founded. Two weeks later, Charles Kerr handwrote Policy No. 1, insuring a thresher for $600 at a premium of $24 for three years. Based in the small community of Wawanesa, Manitoba, the enterprise began modestly and was located in a small rented room above the local drugstore. The company continued to expand its services and in 1960 were given permission to sell life insurance. This new aspect of the business required the recruitment of senior staff qualified in this specialty. In addition, increased technological advances throughout the company’s operations made the need to engage technical experts a priority. As a result, it was decided in 1960, to move the executive offices to Winnipeg, while the head office remained in Wawanesa Village.

A site on Broadway was selected for the new executive offices. By this time Broadway was home to numerous other insurance companies and had become the financial centre of Manitoba. The nine-storey office building was designed by Vancouver architects Musson Cattell Mackey and Charles Bentall. In keeping with the earlier office buildings, the building is set back from the street and set on a low podium, slightly raised above sidewalk level. The pre-cast concrete panels have a light aggregate finish while the regular rectangular design of the facades takes full advantage of pre-cast’s qualities. The darkly tinted windows protect the building’s interior from the southern sun and serve to emphasize the rectangular rhythm of the facade.

2

Cambrian Credit Union

225 Broadway

2001
David Goyer Architecture
225 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation), 2013

Cambrian Credit Union was established in 1959 and has grown to be one of the largest in Manitoba. Joining other financial institutions on Broadway, they built this three-storey headquarters in 2001. The design of Winnipeg architect David Goyer follows the by-then standard Broadway typology of ground floor set back from, and raised above, the adjacent sidewalk.

The building’s symmetrical design features clay brick end walls and intermediate fins, topped by bands of Tyndall limestone and large expanses of black glass between them. The bowed centre section emphasizes this symmetry. This curved motif is repeated on the east wall, this time in Tyndall limestone.

3

Union Centre

275 Broadway

1990
Friesen, Tokar, Reynolds Architectural Partnership
275 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation), 2013

Known as the Union Centre, this building was constructed for the Manitoba Federation of Labour. Designed by local architects Friesen, Tokar, Reynolds Architectural Partnership, the building opened in 1990. Characteristic of buildings of this time, it features a noticeable post-modern design influence with its two colours of brick, contrasting horizontal bands at its base, stepped pattern on the upper storeys, and nearly square ‘punched’ windows with green tinted glass. One notable exception to the regular window rhythm is the 2nd floor east window on the south facade which has a curved top—the location of the Federation’s board room and a design feature requested by the then Union president.

Unlike most office buildings on Broadway, this one does not follow the typical typology of a building set back from the street and ground floor raised above the sidewalk. It is also unusual in that it has its entrance on angle to the corner.

4

Investors Building

280 Broadway

1956
Moody and Moore Architects
1962
Addition, Moody and Moore Architects
208 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

As one of the earliest businesses to relocate to Broadway, the Investors Company sought a bold modern design for their new head office at 280 Broadway. The construction of a new innovative design, asserted its identity as one of Canada’s foremost investment, mutual fund and mortgage firms.

Moody and Moore Architects were commissioned to design the building, using a variety of luxurious materials, entirely from Canadian sources. The building was constructed in two phases—four storeys in 1956, followed by three more in 1962. The first phase was subject to criticism for its squat plainness. The addition of the top three stories, with an overhanging roofline, gave emphasis to the executive top floor, This addition completed the intended design for the building and brought an elegance to the corner of Broadway and Smith.

208 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The Investors Building has a steel skeleton, clad in concrete. The north and east facades are overlaid with alternating horizontal bands of Tyndall limestone and windows, punctuated by dark panels that correspond to the steel frame. The top three floors are finished in an exposed quartz aggregate precast concrete, called Mo-sai. Produced by Supercrete, Mo-sai is highly textured and sparkling and was used both on the seventh floor exterior and on the interior penthouse walls.

Interior finishes were of a high quality. English brown oak and American black walnut were used for panelling in the Executive offices. Moody and Moore’s design required a complicated matching of over 700 panels. In the front lobby, terrazzo was used for the floors and the walls were decorated with black granite tiles. Stainless steel elevator surrounds continue the use of stainless on the entrance doors and canopy. Most of the interior lobby finishes survive.

The base and entry of the building are faced in a dark polished granite. On the underside of the building overhang are green mosaics, which provide a visual surprise for those who look there. Coupled with the use of the very modern material, stainless steel, for the main entry, the result is a simple but rather refined building, which contributes to the urbane feel of Broadway.

5

Sovereign Life Building

287 Broadway

1956–57
Moody and Moore Architects
2011
Cohlmeyer Architects
287 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The site for the Sovereign Life building at Broadway and Smith Street was purchased from Robert Moore, whose firm Moody and Moore Architects owned several properties on the north side of Broadway. Moody and Moore Architects were, unsurprisingly, later retained to design the new head office for Sovereign Life. Regarding the location, the trade journal Western Construction and Building noted that “Broadway was rapidly becoming the insurance and financial capital of Winnipeg.”

Built between 1956 and 1957, the construction of this building coincided with the building of another Moody and Moore design across the street, the Investors Building.

Historical photo of 287 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation)

The initial plans for construction describe a four-storey office building framed with structural steel, intersecting with alternating bands of Tyndall limestone and windows designed to expose the structural frame. The base of the building is treated in a veneer of polished black granite. A local architectural critic commented that the original building lacked a comprehensive theme, criticizing the design for being no more than a “collection of twentieth-century materials aesthetically unintegrated with one another.”

Subsequently, in the late 1960s, Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC), a British investment house, purchased the Sovereign Life building and commissioned Poole Construction to add two more storeys onto the structure, which brought the building to its present height. In 2011, the building was upgraded and reclad.

6

Moody and Moore Offices

295 Broadway

1948
Moody and Moore Architects
295 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Prior to constructing their new head office at this location in 1948, the offices of Moody and Moore Architects were located nearby at 282 Main Street. Partner Robert Moore had purchased several properties along the north side of Broadway in the 1940s, and played an active role as the developer of a number of major projects. The physical evolution and expansion of the Moody and Moore offices in the years following construction, foreshadows the impending development of Broadway as the commercial and financial center of the city.

In 1948, G. A. Baert (Baert Construction) built the original brick single-storey office, which was low, angular and modern looking, despite its use of traditional materials. The new building had two well-lit offices across the front, (to accommodate the architectural partners), a side entrance and a raised basement with large glass block windows. The demand for more space resulted in additions to the building in 1949, 1953 and 1957. These additions included expansion to the rear and a second storey.

Historical photo of 295 Broadway (by Henry Kalen)

Window and wall treatments have been altered over the years so that the essential look of the 1948 building has been changed. Wedged as it is between an older apartment and an office building to the east (also a Moody and Moore design), it is probably only the smallness of the site which has saved the building.

In 1984, Moody and Moore moved to a larger space at 120 Fort Street. While the firm and the office space on Broadway were small in scale, some of the most significant designs of modern Winnipeg were produced from those tightly fitted drafting tables.

7

305 Broadway

1972
Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie
305 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Constructed in 1972, this long and narrow ten-storey building holds a prominent location at the corner of Donald Street and Broadway. This building is one of several designed along Broadway during this period, by Moody and Moore, including their own office.

The west facade features a regular grid of rectangular windows, recessed into the pre-cast panels.At ground level, the grid dissolves into five equal bays. In contrast, the south facade features alternating bands of horizontal windows and concrete spandrels, that continues down to the ground floor.

305 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Except for the brief period in the 1980s when it was the Financial Trust Building, this structure has only been referred to as 305 Broadway.

8

Centennial House

310 Broadway

1970
L. Harmatiuk, Architect
310 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Designed by in-house architect L. Harmatiuk for Bentall Construction Co., Centennial House remains a dramatic and eye-catching visual anchor on the southwest corner of Broadway and Donald Street. Completed in 1970, the building is an eight-storey steel and concrete office building. The striking exterior was achieved through the use of a tall grid of white precast concrete pilasters in extruded chevrons, contrasted against vertical rows of setback windows and golden-brown anodized aluminium. The structure’s clean rectangular lines, interplay of dark and light and welcoming ground-floor retail space makes this one of the most successful office buildings in the evolution of Broadway, as a sophisticated business district and showcase of modern commercial architecture.

One of several offices built during the period by the Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC). Centennial House was named in honour of the provinces’ hundredth birthday. The office building was designed as part of a complex with the 26-storey Chateau 100 apartment building, located around the corner on Donald Street.

9

Revenue Canada Offices

325 Broadway

1993
Architect unknown
325 Broadway (by Murray Peterson)

A private developer, Pre-Con Construction built 325 Broadway in 1993. It was subsequently leased to the federal government to house offices for Revenue Canada.

The building is of pre-cast construction and the exterior is quite plain. When the building opened, there was some controversy as the mechanical and cooling equipment on the roof, considered unsightly, could be seen from adjacent highrises. This prompted discussion about planning and bylaw controls which only affected pedestrian level elements not rooftop ones. The city was urged to include rooftop esthethics in its downtown design controls but this did not happen.

10

Centennial Fountain

Broadway at Donald Street

1970
Smith Carter Parkin
Centennial Fountain (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Designed by local architectural firm Smith Carter Parkin, the Centennial Fountain was unveiled by Lieutenant Governor John McKeag on October 22, 1970. The fountain commemorates the centennial of Manitoba and the 50th anniversary of the first water supplied to Winnipeg from the Shoal Lake Aqueduct. The construction cost of $25,000, was shared between the City of Winnipeg and the Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC).

Centennial Fountain detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

This landscape design by a local firm marks a period of increased architectural consideration of landscape design in Winnipeg, marked by the subsequent establishment of a landscape architecture program at the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1972.

11

Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba Building (formerly Monarch Life Building)

333 Broadway

1960
Smith Carter Searle Associates
333 Broadway (by David Firman)

The Monarch Life Building was originally designed to be the head office and flagship branch of the Monarch Life Assurance Company. A giant on Canada’s business scene, the insurance company was one of the largest, and earliest businesses, to relocate to Broadway, in the area’s post-war evolution towards its status as Winnipeg’s pre-eminent business row.

Internationally recognized as one of Winnipeg’s landmark Modernist buildings, the Monarch Life Building was constructed amid much public interest and took its place among a growing number of modern buildings on both sides of Broadway and along the intersecting streets.

The landmark design for architectural firm Smith Carter Searle Associates, later a finalist for the Massey Medal for Architecture in 1964, was carefully selected to express the bold confidence and security of the corporation, its concern for its clients and employees, as well as its commitment to the economic development of the city of Winnipeg. Smith Carter Searle’s design team—Dennis Carter, Bob Harwood and Ken Bacon—sought a look to project individuality, modern expression of confidence and comfort and security for staff, tenants and clients. Early on in the two years of planning, the architects brought in insurance office efficiency and area planning firm, O’Toole and Associates of New York City. Conscious of their clients interest in corporate image, bleachers were constructed to allow spectators to watch comfortably the progress of construction and a sectional mockup of the façade was installed for testing and for public viewing. Exterior materials, form, shape and landscaping were carefully considered.

Designed to sit on a dark pedestal of smooth marble, the concrete and steel building rises six storeys above Broadway—the front (south) and back north) façades are nearly identical. The ground floor is clad almost entirely in glass and is smaller than the floors above. The upper floors are clad in smooth-cut Tyndall limestone and grey granite, with thin, regularly spaced windows on all floors. The façades are divided into bays by plain columns, rising the entire height of the building. The top floor features recessed windows and a penthouse. The use of darker materials as accenting and the angling of the windows adds more life to the elevations.

The east and west façades are windowless. The plainness is softened by the use of vertical lines that are a continuation of many of the vertical lines created by window openings and other elements on the front and back façades.

333 Broadway as Monarch Life (by Henry Kalen Collection, University of Manitoba)

The design is based on a 5’8” module which is carried through in electrical, mechanical and acoustic systems so that all services are integrated for maximum flexibility in partition arrangements and maintenance. Monarch Building represented the state of the art technologies for its time. As much as possible, sources of material were from Canada. A reciprocal arrangement was made with the Cold Spring, Minnesota granite quarry that ensured that each truck sent with granite returned to Minnesota with Manitoba Heather granite from Lac du Bonnet.

In 1999, 333 Broadway became the head office for the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba. They have proven to be very responsible stewards of this important building.

333 Broadway construction detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

By 2011, as with many buildings from the mid-twentieth century, the exterior envelope and cladding system were failing and in need of repair. Unlike many retrofitted buildings of this era, where the façade is replaced with an alternate material, the client chose to re-use the existing granite stone cladding for the restoration. The goal of the project, completed by principle firm Smith Carter, in collaboration with 1 X 1 Architecture Inc., was to restore the building ensuring that the new envelope detailing was consistent with the original design. Numerous granite stone panels were carefully removed, repaired and replaced in their original location following asbestos removal and the installation of a new building envelope. New glazing was also installed, including a stainless steel pressure plate cap to match the original design. New coping stones, supplied by the same granite quarry as fifty years earlier, were installed at the roof, again to maintain the original detailing at the façade.

12

Former CIBC Building

336 Broadway

1956
Green Blankstein Russell
336 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The Canadian Imperial Bank Commerce (CIBC) vacated this bank branch in 1997, a trend that follows the decentralization of banking accompanying suburban expansion in post-war Canada. Due to the explosion of smaller branches in different parts of the city, clients no longer needed to travel downtown to the massive banking halls of previous generations, where the architecture spoke of power, stability and wealth. Banks responded to this
trend by constructing smaller, more accessible branches in various parts of the city. Canadian bank head offices generally had their own chief architect who controlled the planning and construction of their properties. The design for branch buildings went to local architects but the bank’s chief architect was involved in the choice of location and design.

336 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Green Blankstein and Russell designed the Broadway branch in 1956. The building is rather diminutive in size, with large windowed portions on the public elevations to the north and east. The inclusion of large windows in the design denotes a modern tendency of bank branches towards a greater use of glass areas, in order to provide light in the interior and allow for greater visibility from the street. While remaining inviting at the street level, the design pays homage to its large commercial neighbours, with the use of high quality materials—imported Indiana limestone facing and red granite trim. The building ceased housing a bank in 1997 and has since accommodated retail activities.

13

Brittania House

338 Broadway

1964
Waisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna Associates
338 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

A finalist in the 1964 Massey Medals for Architecture, Britannia House was originally designed by Waisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna Associates and constructed between 1962 and 1963. The group of architects who designed the six-storey office building at 338 Broadway later became the prominent and established Number Ten Architectural Group.

For many years the building housed the Sun Life Insurance Company and, since 1991, has been the home of Me-dian Credit Union. As its name suggests, Britannia House was owned and built by the Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC), a development company with significant British investment that was instrumental in the evolution of Broadway from a quiet residential street of old mansions and apartment blocks to a commercial hub showcasing many fine examples of Modernist commercial architecture.

Employing a structural frame of reinforced concrete columns with cellular two-way slab floors, Britannia House features a striking minimalist facade of dramatic white mullions, offset with black precast aggregate panels that overhang a glassed podium on the ground floor. A recessed entrance behind a broad stairway from the sidewalk further articulates this illusion of a “floating” design.

14

Hanford Drewitt

354 Broadway

1970
Ron Keenberg of IKOY Architects
354 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Operating since 1948, the original owners Hanford and Drewitt established the menswear store to introduce luxury men’s clothing and on-site tailoring to Winnipeg. In 1970, the business commissioned Ron Keenberg of IKOY Architects to design a new structure for the retail store on bustling Broadway. Winner of a 1982 Premier’s Design Award, the modest Hanford Drewitt store is a compact yet elegant addition to the street.

354 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

It is clad with dark grey slate tiles emphasizing its simple volume. The sole show window is set flush with the tiles in keeping with the building’s sheer quality.

15

360 Broadway

1962
Waisman and Ross
360 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Carlton Street, this six-storey office building was the third in a succession of buildings financed by Metropolitan Estates and Properties Corporation (MEPC) to realize the company’s ambitious vision to transform Broadway into a thriving financial and commercial district.

Chief architect Allan H. Waisman was conscious of the successful use of limestone in other designs along the street but was inclined to use other materials to complement the limestone but be more economical. Thus, he chose four-inch-thick precast exposed aggregate panels. Windows at the four corners were cut away to balance and draw attention to the raised roof that cantilevers out over the sixth floor. “Solar stop” heat-reflecting glass, in a metallic gold finish, was used for these prominent top floor windows. The fascia of the roof employs the same pre-cast panels are are crenellated slightly on the lower edge.

The aggregate panels were arranged to leave vertical slits between panels with windows set back in their frames.

360 Broadway entrance detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The ground floor is further recessed, creating a platform-like effect further enhanced by raising the ground floor slightly above the public sidewalk. In this building Waisman also employed a bold and technologically advanced use of reinforced concrete and cellular flat slab method of construction, that is thought to have been used locally for the first time.

16

Imperial Office Tower

363 Broadway

1975–77
LM Architectural Group
2011
Smith Carter
363 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation)

The Imperial Office Tower was commissioned and built between 1975 and 1977 by the Imperial Group, a small but aggressive realty development company. The Imperial Group began in 1954 as a modest contracting firm. Headed by Don and Garry Gales, along with developer Saul. B. Ziterman and architect Gerald Libling. The group also developed a number of apartment towers around the city including Lakeshore Park Apartments (Fort Richmond), St. Vital Villa, Peppertree Estates (St. Vital) and Place Louis Riel.

With its internal steel skeleton, the all-glass office tower further conceals its podium behind plate glass. The original appearance of the building was of a grid wrapped around all four sides, with panels of reflective glass alternating with slightly narrower window panels of the same bronze finish, forming the appearance of a curtain wall with the illusion of no substance at all. The planned height of the structure initially delayed approval of the project, as there appeared to be a common understanding that buildings on Broadway were not to block the view of the Golden Boy, although this doesn’t appear to have been formally legislated as a building by-law. It was later determined that the building was, in fact, shorter than the ornament topping the Legislative Building.

The original building featured a reflective bronze-glass office tower, an evolved variation of many of the major office buildings along Broadway. However, renovation to the façade by local firm Smith Carter in 2011 has completely altered the original design of the building. The new windows are more energy-efficient and allow sixty percent more daylight into the interior of the building.

17

IBM Building

373 Broadway

1960
Waisman and Ross
373 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The International Business Machines (IBM) Building was the first of four joint development projects by the Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC). Waisman Ross and Associates designed all four buildings, leaving the young firm of architects with a number of prominent buildings on the avenue. Working with consulting engineers Crosier, Krauss and Greenberg, and general contractors Malcom Construction, Allan Waisman began with a three-storey office, although the building was designed to carry two more storeys.

The building was less than three years old when the same team was contracted to construct the two additional floors. The building has a frame of structural steel over a foundation of reinforced concrete. The roof decks are steel and the walls faced with brick except for the façade on the street. Long strips of windows alternate with slightly wider strips of limestone, with slim spandrel panels concealing only the floor level.

373 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

The long, tall look is seamless, as the added top storeys give the elevation the proper scale for its design. A penthouse for the elevator and mechanical system is centred over the fifth floor but can only be seen from the side. IBM used the ground floor for its display, sales and service areas, as well as offices for “customer engineering”.

In 1979, the Province of Manitoba purchased the building to house courtrooms and administrative space to supplement the nearby Law Courts Building.

18

Imperial House

379 Broadway

1961
Waisman Ross and Associates
379 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation), n.d.

Designed by Waisman Ross and Associates, 379 Broadway was constructed in 1961. It is now referred to as Imperial House. Imperial Oil, Canada’s largest oil company and one of the nation’s biggest businesses, originally developed the property for use as a head office. The company remained the anchor tenant in the building from 1961 to 1981. Chronologically, this is the second of the four Waisman Ross designed and Metropolitan Estate and Property Corporation (MEPC) developed properties constructed in the early 1960s. Clustered in the blocks of Carlton Street to Edmonton Street, these buildings were formative in the development of the architectural aesthetic of the strip and had a significant impact on the state of business development in the area.

379 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Imperial House was clearly designed by the architects to correspond visually with 373 Broadway, the IBM Building earlier completed next door. Both structures have long narrow windows with vertical limestone panels between the pairs of windows. While two storeys were eventually added to the IBM building, the Imperial House remains a rather squat, two-storey structure. However, two features of the building are unique: first, at the rear, the building is cut away on the ground floor to allow for parking underneath the overhang; second, the building was constructed with no basement—there is only a crawlspace beneath the building.

19

386 Broadway

1977
Libling and Michener Architects
386 Broadway (by Winnipeg Architecture Foundation), 2013

This prominent building, at the corner of Edmonton and Broadway, was designed by Libling and Michener Architects. The building’s design features angled and stepped façades. Each step is created by pre-cast concrete verticals with an exposed aggregate finish. Each of the angled faces is clad with reflective glass, in black frames.

A small, low podium with planters, separates the building from the street. This follows in the tradition of the earlier buildings along Broadway and contributes to the continued formal quality of the street. The stepped facades serve to break up the building’s mass.

20

Broadway Disciples United Church

396 Broadway

1969–70
Moody Moore and Partners (James Christie lead designer)
396 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Occupying the corner of Broadway and Kennedy Street, Broadway Disciples United Church (formerly St. Stephens Broadway United Church) is modestly sized, with two single-storey recessed entrances. The façade is finished in Tyndall limestone, set in narrow courses with deeply-set glazing. The shape of the building was intended to be reminiscent of a ship, an ancient symbol of the church. The modern structure was designed by Moody and Moore to replace a Gothic-style church destroyed by fire in 1968.

396 Broadway side detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

Churches of this era were planned to be multifunctional; as such, the church has a modern open plan, with partition walls to divide the space for a variety of events. The basement was designed to contain an auditorium, music library, classrooms, kitchen and nursery. An elevator, daycare and facilities for a program to serve adolescent parents were added in 1985.

If the church is open, take the opportunity to view the chapel and its stained glass windows. The windows are the work of Andrew Cordner of Western Art Glass. The painting of the glass was done by Ernest Ashcroft and the leading by Sean Sykes. The sculpture on the left wall is by Carlo Gabbrielli of Winnipeg.

21

Woodsworth Building

405 Broadway

1973–74
Smith Carter Partners
405 Broadway (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

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.

405 Broadway detail (by Burdocks Design Studio), 2012

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 fifteen stories.

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.

List of Architectural Firms

Moody and Moore and Partners

now MMP Architects

Robert Moore and Herbert Moody initially formed a partnership in 1936, cycling through a number of names for the firm as well as additional partners through the years: Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie, Architects, Engineers and Planners (1969); Moody Moore Partners (1974); and, finally, MMP Architects in 1984. Versatile in their range of designs, Moody and Moore initially specialized in hospital, laboratory and other medical facilities. The pair designed the Red Cross Lodge at Deer Lodge Military Hospital in 1945, and the Red Cross Division Headquarters on Osborne Street North in 1948. These projects were quickly followed by regional hospitals in Virden and Morden in the early 1950s, the Woman’s Pavilion of General Hospital (1951) and Children’s Hospital (1952) among others. Moody and Moore also designed virtually all of the original major buildings at the Health Sciences Centre Complex.

Educational buildings were a second area of expertise. In the early post-war period they designed Churchill High (1953), Harrow School (1954), St. John’s College and Chapel at the University of Manitoba (1958), and the sprawling multi-use Manitoba Institute of Technology (now Red River College) which opened in 1963. Subsequently, the firm expanded the University of Winnipeg with Lockhart Hall and again, in 1973, with Centennial Hall. In the 1960s the firm entered an association with Smith Carter and GBR Architects to form the Associated Architects for the Manitoba Cultural Centre, which created the Centennial Concert Hall, the Manitoba Museum and the Planetarium.

MMP Architects has continued to evolve into a thriving practice today run by two Principals, Robert Wrublowsky and Christopher Daly. As a firm that has built its reputation on understanding business first, they continue to serve clients through experienced leadership in design, architectural development and project financial planning. MMP developed much of their own work in the past including works on Broadway. Today MMP remain as one of the few firms providing design and responsible fiscal planning through their own developments, as well as through traditional client based projects. 

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Smith Carter Partners

Ernest J. Smith and Dennis H. Carter established Smith Carter in 1947, with a goal to further integrate their architectural and engineering practices. Both were recent graduates from the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. Some of the firm’s earliest projects were designs for rural community schools. The pair began to collaborate with Jim Searle and became known as Smith Carter Searle Associates. During this era, many landmarks in Winnipeg were designed by them, including the firm’s first Massey Medal winner, the Monarch Life Building in 1957. The firm’s critical success continued as they won another coveted Massey Medal for the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture building, completed in 1959. Other projects included the Pan–Am Pool in 1966 constructed for the Pam American Games, the Richardson building at the famous corner of Portage and Main, and the Centennial Concert Hall in 1967. The 1969 merger with John B. Parkin Associates of Toronto led to the firm changing its name from Smith Carter Searle to Smith Carter Parkin. In later years, further changes in the firm’s organizational structure left the firm titled simply Smith Carter.

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Waisman and Ross

now Number Ten Architectural Group

Waisman and Ross were both graduates of the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. In May 1953, they opened their first office at 308-356 Main Street (in the Great Western Building). Their early practice consisted predominantly of small rural hospitals, notably winning a Massey Award Honorable Mention for their work on the Teulon hospital. Larger urban commissions came in 1955 and 1956 and included a housing development of 32 units, the new Winnipeg Builders Exchange at Portage and Burnell, and a bottling plant and office for Blackwood Beverages in 1956 (which earned the fledgling firm another Massey Honourable Mention). In 1961, they won a silver Massey Medal for their design of the multi-use Thompson Municipal Building, as well as a silver for Waisman’s design of his own summer cottage in Husavick on Lake Winnipeg. Subsequently Waisman and Ross built their own office at 10 Donald Street, large enough to be shared with their partners—an engineering firm, Klein and Dashevsky. With many contemporary design details, this attractive space promptly became the home of the newly-merged practice of Waisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna in 1964, a firm which later adopted the office’s street number to be called Number Ten Architectural Group.

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References

Cassidy, Christian writer and researcher (various online sites)
City of Winnipeg, Historical Buildings Inventory
City of Winnipeg, Archives and Records Control
Historic Places website (www.historicplaces.ca)
Keshavjee, Serena and Herbert Enns, editors, Winnipeg Modern: Architecture 1945–1975. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2006
Peterson, Murray. Monarch Life Building research report (unpublished). Winnipeg: Peterson Projects, 2008
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation research files (www.winnipegarchitecture.ca)
University of Manitoba Architectural Library, Historical Building Index