As Canada's first centennial building, the Fathers of Confederation Building (now the Confederation Center of the Arts) has set an important precedent both in terms of cultural programming and the adoption of a brutalist idiom for the later projects of the Centennial of Canada. The contest was launched as an open contest to any architect member of the Nova Scotia Association of Architects (NSAA) alone or in a consortium. The 6.3-hectare site was to include a library, theater and art gallery surrounding the Memorial Hall. The fourth side was to be dedicated to the preservation of the Province House, site of the first conference of the confederation in September 1864. Among the 47 proposals received, the first prize was awarded to the Montreal firm Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Sise & Schonauer. The contest also had a second prize, two third prizes and six mentions.
The competition for the Fathers of Confederation Memorial Building attracted 47 competitors, and the Jury of Award was most impressed with the standard of design of the majority, and the high degree of imagination which was evident in many.
In general, competitors seemed conscious of the scale of the buildings on the surrounding streets and of the significance, scale and material of the Provincial Building. In the opinion of the Jury of Award, the old building was regarded as a national monument of historic and architectural importance and not as an obstruction, and were greatly influenced by the degree of skill and sensitivity with which competitors incorporated it in the new building complex and the landscaping of the site.
The design placed first by Messrs Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Sise & Schoenauer seemed to the Jury of Award to more than justify the holding of the competition.
As the first building to appear in Canada on the eve of the centenary celebrations for Confederation, it will set a standard of architectural excellence and suitability that will not likely be surpassed. It is rare for the architect in our modern society to be set the problem of a complex permanent building on the town square of a city with a population of only 20,000.
The chief charm of the winning design is its absolute appropriateness to the local scene and the city at large.
Two schemes at opposite poles of design approach - the one highly imaginative with an emotional impact, the other highly ordered in its intellectual precision of form and detail - had bad faults of planning. The jury found no clear distinction which might have argued that one was better than the other; but in recognition of the outstanding conception in each case, decided to tie the two for 3rd prize.
A number of schemes were considered of sufficient merit to be singled out for Mention, in recognition of either good straightforward solutions or unusualness of idea. None, however, revealed a thoroughness of sound planning and conception which could have warranted the award of Prizes or Honourable Mention.
(Consult the competitors' projects for specific comments from the jury)
(From jury report)
Commemorating Confederation, Globe and Mail
Memorial Building Site Is P.E.I. Contribution
$5,000,000 Design Picked For Memorial
Memorial Building : Praise Winning Design
A Modest Memorial
Contest For Memorial Design
Contract Awaited For Historics Shrine, The Montreal Star
Dominion Bldg. Design Criticized : Plans for shrine here said "fuzzy thinking"
The National Shrine, The Carlottetown Guardian, 1961
Canada Planning Founders' Shrine, The New York Times, 1961
Cheerful 1864, The Ottawa Journal, 1961
McKenzie, Robert, Confederation Edifice Competition Bilingual Lesage Tells Balcer, The Gazette, 1961
We'll be the envy of all, 1962
Cabinet Hears Report On Proposed Memorial Building For Capitol, Provincial News, 1962
The Confederation Memorial, 1962
A Generous Gesture, Charlottetown Guardian, 1962
Good news concerning memorial project here, The Evening Patriot, 1962
Confederation Memorial, The Evening Patriot, 1962
Memorial Cost Sharing Touched On By McQuaid, Guardian, 1962
Memorial Promised Aid By Provinces, Victoria Daily News, 1962
Memorial center acclaimed, Patriot, 1962
Confederation Bldg. Jury Starts Judging, Toronto Telegram, 1962
City Firm Celebrates Design Feat, The Montreal Star, 1962
Montreal architects win Confederation memorial contest, The Chronicle Herald, 1962
Confederation Fathers' Monument, The Ottawa CItizen, 1962
Montreal Firm Has Best Confederation Design, The Gazette, 1962
City Architect Wins $5,000 In PEI, Toronto Telegram, 1962
Memorial Building Design Will Be Selected From 47, Guardian, 1962
Architects Favor Contests, Mail-Star, 1962
For confederatin Shrine : Montreal Architects Win Design Award, The Globe and Mail, 1962
Jury Inspect Models Of National Shrine, Toronto Daily Star, 1962
Competition : Fathers of Confederation Memorial Building for Charlottetown, PEI, Canadian Architect, 1962
Grants For Memorial Building Here Are Hailed By Queens Members, Guardian, 1962
Memorial Centre Plan Won By Montreal Firm, Guardian, 1962
Dupuis, Joe, Montreal Architecs Out To Change Face of Canada, The Ottawa Journal, 1962
Jarvis, Alan, Canada's Centenary Plans: The Lesson Of The P.E.I. Shrine, The Montreal Star, 1962
Matheson, Neil A., Memorial Bldg. gets firm backing, Patriot, 1962
Peacock, Jim, Provinces Agree At Talks To Back Memorial Here, Guardian, 1962
Ternan, Frank, Centenary Council chief praises Ch'town centre, C.P. Story, 1962
Memorial Foundation Directors Meet, Guardian, 1963
Lesage Says "Satisfied" With Award, C.P., 1963
Frank MacKinnon, New $5,000,000 Theatre in P.E.I., Opera in Canada, 1963
Memorial Bldg. endowment fund to offset maintenance, Patriot, 1964
Dr. MacKinnon Wins Civic Design Award, Guardian, 1964
A New Page In Canadian History, Expo Journal, 1964
Confederation Centre Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal, 1964
Boyd, Hugh, Question Surround P.E.I. Centre, Ottawa Citizen, 1964
Holloway, Cal, Halifax Mayor Lays Claim To Confederation Cradle, Guardian, 1964
MacKinnon, Frank, Fathers of Confederation Building: Here's how one contractor achieved early completion with a crash program, 1965
Charrois, Geneviève, Confederation Centre Of The Arts: A 1960s National Historic Site, 2005