Saturday, 2 August 2014

Bureaucratic Ruins: Images from the Last Days of the Sir John Carling Building

I hope to flesh this post out with more images (and words) but for now here are a few shots of the late Sir John Carling Building. Named after the federal Minister of Agriculture who oversaw the establishment of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa and the wider Experimental Farm system across the country in 1886 (Carling was also one of those responsible for the founding of the Ontario Agricultural College in the 1870s), the Sir John Carling Building was one of the first attempts to consolidate a federal department in a single building.
Opened in 1967, the building was a testament to Canada's modernity. However, with a life expectancy of only 40 years, the Sir John Carling Building joins the ranks of brutalist buildings, such as the old Ottawa Convention Centre, whose time seems to have come to an end all to soon. While I never worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, as a historical researcher for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency most of my memories of the building are of the labyrinthine basement library with its seemingly endless caverns of sliding stacks.

First, from the day before looking south past the Dominion Observatory building towards the Sir John Carling Building:

Next, also from the day before, looking up the hill from Queen Juliana Park to the SJCB:

The demolition from Maple Road. Unfortunately I couldn't get to the spots I had scouted out the day before so my view was obstructed by trees:


And the aftermath from behind the Dominion Observatory, note that the haze isn't fog (though it was raining a little) but rather dirt from the demolition:

And, finally (for now), the empty crest at Queen Juliana Park: