Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site Management Plan (13 of 20)

IV.2 - Integration of New Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Headquarter Developments

A significant new development occurred during the time the four scenarios were being debated and discussed. The Government of Canada purchased the Skyline complex, a group of seven interconnected office buildings, built for Nortel. This site is to serve as the new headquarters facility for AAFC and all its constituent agencies. The Skyline complex is located on Baseline Road, just west of the Central Experimental Farm boundary. The property is contiguous with the Farm, and in fact provides an anchor to the site at the corner diagonally opposite the original northeast entrance.

The present Sir John Carling building has long been inadequate for a headquarters function, both because of its deteriorating condition and because of its small size in relation to departmental requirements. Many of the agencies and units of AAFC headquarters had been split off and relocated to deal with the shortage of space and the limitations on building renovations. Some headquarters staff had moved into adjacent Central Experimental Farm facilities.

This purchase had a number of impacts. It allowed AAFC to begin planning a consolidation of all headquarters staff, currently scattered across many buildings both on the Farm and across the National Capital Region. It promised to free up some of the buildings in the core area of the Farm that had been taken over by HQ at various times. And it set in motion a plan to empty the Sir John Carling Building and consider a redevelopment of this site. The Carling building has reached the end of its natural life expectancy, both on the interior and the exterior, and requires either demolition or major reworking.

The announced move of the headquarters function did not, however, have any significant impact on the nature of the four planning scenarios. The current Carling building, set alone onto the forested escarpment of the picturesque entry zone, was an isolated pavilion with its own access off Prince of Wales Drive. It had not interrupted the original spatial organization of the site, nor had it created a significant new functional pattern. Any redevelopment of this site can take advantage of its position at the traditional northeast entry to the Farm. Its picturesque landscape qualities, facing the curvilinear sweep of Prince of Wales, reinforce its federal identity.

There has been an immediate interest in reworking the landscape of the Skyline complex to develop a relationship between the new headquarters building and the adjacent fields of the Farm itself.