Completed in 1931, the building was designed by Ernest Isbell Barott, of the firm Barott and Blackader, with a height of 96 metres (316 ft) or 23 storeys. Built at a cost of $2,851,076.00, Barott endeavored to design a modern building which would, at the same time, fit with the square's historic surroundings. The building's setbacks at the 8th, 13th, and 16th floors allow more light on the square and create a cathedral-like massing, reflecting the adjacent Notre-Dame Basilica. The building uses limestone, common to other buildings in the area. The Aldred Building also attempts to address both Place d’Armes and Notre-Dame Street which do not meet at right angles, aligning with both streets until the third floor, where it then steps back and becomes square to Notre-Dame. The odd angle is small and not immediately noticeable from street-level.
The building resembles New York's Empire State Building, completed the same year, and was built for Aldred and Company Limited, a New York City-based international finance company.
Barott began work on the Aldred Building around 1927, with original design for a building only 12 storeys tall, as building heights were limited to 130 feet (40 m) in Montreal until the passing of a bylaw allowing taller buildings provided they made use of setbacks to reduce their overall mass, similar to one in New York City.
Barott was able to take advantage of a 1929 clause in the bylaw that allowed buildings on public squares to exceed the then maximum height by up to 200 feet (61 m), if certain restrictions were adhered to. The building’s total floor area is 238,946 square feet (22,198.8 m2).