Egyptian Ambassador’s Residence, Addition and Renovations
Rockliffe Park, Ottawa


741 Acacia Avenue, located in the prestigious Rockcliffe heritage neighborhood of Ottawa, was designed by renowned Ottawa architect Allan Keefer for his own family. “The house, built by Keefer for his wife and children in 1913, was beautifully sited on a high bluff with the sweep of the Ottawa River easterly and Kettle Island in the foreground.

An elegant design in Tudor Revival style, it expressed much about Keefer’s thoughts on composition. The distinguishing features of the house are the double-height bay on the façade and two-storeyed entrance hall with its wood paneling.” (Rockcliffe Park: A History of the Village / Martha Edwards, 2005). The Egyptian government now owns this property.

Egyptian Ambassador’s Residence, Addition and Renovations
Rockliffe Park, Ottawa


The residence of the Egyptian Ambassador to Canada required extensive rehabilitation and renovations to address aging infrastructure and deficient building envelopes, improve function and provide additional accommodations and gathering spaces.

The design maintains sensitive heritage fabric and character in the older sections of the structure while accommodating new public spaces at the rear of the property. Guest rooms were added and private family areas and interiors were completely re-planned.

The designs for the new accommodations attempted to blend with the historic by utilizing similar materials and forms, including the replication of interior and exterior millwork and decorative rafter details and the continuation of the lower stone band around the house. All attempts were made to maintain the unique public appearance of the house from the street by tucking the addition behind the main façade and truncating the roof slopes to ensure they did not protrude above the original rooflines.

In conjunction with the addition to the house, extensive landscaping was undertaken. This work included the restoration of the perimeter drystack stonewall, installation of a decorative metal security fence and gates independent of the wall so as not to disturb the wall’s heritage character, a new driveway turning loop and a large exterior terrace off of the Reception Room.

Egyptian Ambassador’s Residence, Addition and Renovations
Rockliffe Park, Ottawa

Goals / Challenges

  • The goal and challenge was to provide a facility that, while partly domestic in nature, could accommodate extensive diplomatic functions including large receptions, dining and entertainment areas for up to 100 persons, integrated with completely modernized and energy efficient building infrastructure, site servicing, parking, property boundary and security requirements.
  • Original materials in the residence, both interior and exterior, contained hazardous substances and their mitigation posed a threat to many heritage finishes; the scope was extended to include repair in these areas. Maintaining heritage character required design adjustments so as not to disturb material containing potential hazardous materials. Extensive masonry restoration was undertaken, including the rebuilding of the chimneys and decorative elements.
  • Planning, designing and coordinating the extensive and complex list of functional requirements with local representatives of a foreign government, in concert with head-office approval bodies, proved especially challenging. This painstaking process was completed successfully and required special attention to communication methods and processes.

2009 Award of Merit, Addition - City Of Ottawa Heritage Awards

© 2011 Robertson Martin Architects | legal