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JONATHAN FRIEDMAN/PARTISANS

DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY

INTERIORS BY ARCHITECTS

05

CANADIAN ARCHITECT

SEPTEMBER 2015

11 NEWS

Atelier Kastelic Buffey offers pro bono services for Newmarket’s Story Pod; Centennial College’s Aerospace Campus expansion by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects | Stantec to begin construction this fall.

35 INSITES

Adele Weder suggests Canada might take the Netherlands’ lead in expanding our cultural institutions by transforming existing structures rather than building anew.

39 BOOKS

18 BAR RAVAL Heavily inspired by Art Nouveau and Spanish design, the organic forms of Bar Raval’s CNC-milled mahogany interior seduce patrons—perhaps even more so than the inventive tapas menu. TEXT Terri Peters

24 RYERSON UNIVERSITY STUDENT LEARNING CENTRE Located on Toronto’s bustling Yonge Street, Snøhetta’s boldly graphic light-filled building funnels students into its dynamic interior spaces. TEXT Elsa Lam

Canadian landscape architecture and domestic design are the focus of two recent publications.

41 CALENDAR

Arthur Erickson: Site Lines at the UQAM Centre de Design in Montreal; Winnipeg Design Festival returns.

42 LOOKING BACK

The competition-winning Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec City is revisited by Thomas-Bernard Kenniff.

31 NC DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE LTD.

DENNIS LO

Canadian-educated architect Nelson Chow takes his skills back to his native Hong Kong, specializing in whimsical and narrative-driven commercial spaces. TEXT Jean-François Goyette

Bar Raval in Toronto by PARTISANS. Photograph by Jonathan Friedman/PARTISANS.

COVER

V.60 N.09 THE NATIONAL REVIEW OF DESIGN AND PRACTICE/THE JOURNAL OF RECORD OF THE RAIC

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CANADIAN ARCHITECT 09/15­

06

VIEWPOINT

SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE At this summer’s RAIC Festival in Calgary, I convened a panel discussion about the rise of non-standard contracts, and how architects can fight for fairer conditions. Architects in practices of all sizes are being pressured to sign agreements containing multiple pages of supplementary conditions, many of which depart from standard architectural practice. The unspoken threat: if they don’t sign, their client will find someone else to do the job. Panellist Bill Birdsell FRAIC, former president of the Ontario Association of Architects, emphasizes that it’s important to get the contract right from the beginning. “A standard architect-client agreement aligns properly with the other consultant agreements and with the construction contract,” he says. In his small Guelph-based practice, he has seen many public-sector contracts that assign undue responsibility to the architect, including liability for the work of the client’s other consultants. “Many architects I speak to believe in their relationship with a project manager, whose working goal is to ensure that a project is managed fairly, regardless of the wording in the contract,” says Birdsell. “However, if the project goes significantly wrong, they’d be the first to get thrown under the bus. As the architect, you’d then need to defend yourself from undue responsibility over the project’s failures Some other conditions to avoid in new contracts include terms that hold architects to a higher standard of care than normal, terms that allow a client to withhold payment for a variety of arbitrary reasons, vague scopes of services, and terms that fail to define the limitations of liability. For Vancouver-based architect Michael Green FRAIC, copyright terms comprise another issue that comes up frequently. Under the federal Copyright Act, architects maintain ownership of copyright in their work. Some contracts, however, ask architects to surrender this copyright to the client. “It’s a right that no architect should ever feel compelled to waive,” says Green. Copyright prevents clients from replicating building designs without properly compensating the architect. “That sounds rare but it does happen,” says Green. He adds that in some cases, an unscrupulous client could actually sell a design to others who replicate it. “If an architect chooses to waive his copyright then it is advisable to do so with strict

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conditions for reuse, including payment to the architect.” Doug McConnell FRAIC, an Edmontonbased principal at DIALOG, is a co-chair of the Consulting Architects of Alberta (CAA). “Contracts are one of the core issues that the CAA was founded to address,” he says. The CAA works to advocate for the business interests of architects in parallel to the regulatory role of the Alberta Association of Architects. One of its key subcommittees analyzes contracts and negotiates with clients for fairer agreements. Often, clients are amenable to change when concerns are presented by the organization. If there are outstanding issues, the CAA warns its members against signing the contract. While Alberta architects have the CAA to help, McConnell says that a number of other tools are available for architects to negotiate better contracts. “Use your insurer as a resource,” he advises, as provincial insurers can highlight clauses that aren’t covered. He also suggests being careful “not to overpromise” in contracts, for instance, by guaranteeing that a building will hit a designated LEED certification level. McConnell says that before a DIALOG project team signs a contract, other principals are assigned to independently evaluate it. That provides much needed perspective, as the team that won a project can sometimes willfully overlook contract flaws. Sometimes negotiations must happen earlier in the process. Many RFPs now ask bidders to assent to the contract in advance. Green says that it can be possible to defer consent. His firm will often use the phrase, “Upon acceptance, the contract will be reviewed in accordance with insurability and industry standards of practice.” To clarify the status of multiple documents, his firm adds a sentence to theMember of final contract, stating: “This document supersedes and replaces all existing agreements.” Throughout the panel, it became clear that unfair contracts are affecting practices across the country. Firms usually feel alone and are wary of sharing their concerns with potential competitors. But as the CAA’s success has demonstrated, there is power in getting together as an industry to stand up to nonstandard contracts, and defend our professional and legal rights.

Inc.

Elsa Lam

­­EDITOR ELSA LAM, MRAIC ASSOCIATE EDITOR LESLIE JEN, MRAIC EDITORIAL ADVISOR IAN CHODIKOFF, OAA, FRAIC CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ANNMARIE ADAMS, MRAIC DOUGLAS MACLEOD, NCARB, MRAIC REGIONAL CORRESPONDENTS HALIFAX CHRISTINE MACY, OAA REGINA BERNARD FLAMAN, SAA MONTREAL DAVID THEODORE CALGARY GRAHAM LIVESEY, MRAIC WINNIPEG LISA LANDRUM, MAA, AIA, MRAIC VANCOUVER ADELE WEDER PUBLISHER TOM ARKELL 416-510-6806 ACCOUNT MANAGER FARIA AHMED 416-510-6808 CIRCULATION MANAGER DIANE RAKOFF 416-442-5600 EXT. 3551 CUSTOMER SERVICE MALKIT CHANA 416-442-5600 EXT. 3539 PRODUCTION CHERYL FISHER ART DIRECTOR LISA ZAMBRI PRESIDENT OF ANNEX-NEWCOM LP ALEX PAPANOU HEAD OFFICE 80 VALLEYBROOK DRIVE, TORONTO, ON M3B 2S9 TELEPHONE 416-510-6845 FACSIMILE 416-510-5140 E-MAIL elam@canadianarchitect.com WEBSITE www.canadianarchitect.com Canadian Architect is published monthly by Annex-Newcom LP. The editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose. Subscription Rates Canada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (HST – #81538 0985 RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (prepaid with student ID, includes taxes): $27.00 for one year. USA: $105.95 US for one year. All other foreign: $125.95 US per year. Single copy US and foreign: $10.00 US. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be re­produced either in part or in full without the consent of the copyright owner. From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via one of the following methods: Telephone 1-800-668-2374 Facsimile 416-442-2191 E-mail drakoff@annexnewcom.ca Mail Privacy Officer, 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9 MEMBER OF THE CANADIAN BUSINESS PRESS MEMBER OF THE ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT #43005526 ISSN 1923-3353 (ONLINE) ISSN 0008-2872 (PRINT)

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2015 AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE Canadian Architect invites architects registered in Canada and architectural graduates to enter the magazine’s 2015 Awards of Excellence. Projects must be in the design stage, scheduled for construction or under construction but not substantially complete by September 25, 2015. All projects must be commissioned by a client with the intention to build the submitted proposal. All building types and concisely presented urban design schemes are eligible. Awards are given for architectural design excellence. Jurors will consider the scheme's response to the client's program, site, and geographic and social context. They will evaluate its physical organization, form, structure, materials and environmental features. Winners will be published in a special issue of Canadian Architect in December 2015. Submissions will be accepted in PDF format, up to 12 pages with dimensions no greater than 11” x 17”. Total file size is not to exceed 25MB. For more information and to submit, please visit www.canadianarchitect.com/awards/submit/

Early-Bird Deadline: September 4, 2015 ($115 entry fee) Regular Deadline: September 25, 2015 ($150 entry fee)

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11

PROJECTS

The Story Pod, a community-supported lending library designed by Atelier Kastelic Buffey (AKB), is helping to invigorate the Town of Newmarket, Ontario. The intensifying suburb, north of Toronto, has a Victorian-era core surrounded by ever-growing tracts of modern housing. The pod, placed on the edge of a prominent civic square in the heart of the town’s historic district, continues the municipality’s plan to use contemporary design as a means of creating a lively current-day hub for gathering within its leafy quaint setting. The Story Pod echoes AKB’s residential projects with a pure simple form that belies a deeply thoughtful approach to architecture. The abstract black volume—a compact 8’ wide by 8’ deep by 10’ high—acts as an urban marker, drawing curious residents from nearby Main Street and an adjacent riverside walking trail. As users move around the box, the rhythm of its vertical slats changes. The tightest spacing articulates opaque walls; the larger gaps, backed by transparent Lexan, allow light and views to filter through; and the widest openings display the book stacks, showcasing the spines and encouraging eager readers to come in. The invitation becomes more pronounced when two of the walls pivot open like the covers of a book, welcoming people inside or to gather around the front. Visitors can take or leave something to read, or lounge quietly on the built-in seating and read. Groups of students can collect around outside for story time with their teacher. The Story Pod’s ethos of community comes from the roots of the design process. AKB undertook the project pro bono, and carefully considered how to make the design aesthetically pleasing and functional, as well as ecological, economical and easy to build so that a volunteer construction crew could assemble it. Standard-dimension lumber and plywood—which minimized production waste— was subject to clever proportioning, rhythm and balance to create something graceful. Construction to begin on Centennial College aerospace project by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects | Stantec.

Under the federal government’s New Building Canada Plan, funding of up to $18.4 million was recently announced for Centennial College’s Downsview Park Aerospace Campus in Toronto’s North York neighbourhood. The announcement puts into place the third and final

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SHAI GIL

Atelier Kastelic Buffey unveil compelling Story Pod in Newmarket.

CANADIAN ARCHITECT 09/15­

NEWS

The elegant and simple form of the Story Pod lending library by Atelier Kastelic Buffey activates the historic civic square of the suburban community of Newmarket, inviting residents to browse, sit and read. The structure will be stored off site during the winter months.

ABOVE

major funding commitment that allows Centennial College to begin construction this fall, with occupancy slated for late 2017. The project involves extensive renovations to the de Havilland Building, which will include the construction of new teaching facilities, laboratories and office space for research and development related to structural aircraft assembly, manufacturing and maintenance, research in navigation and more. Centennial selected MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) to prepare the design for the de Havilland Building in conjunction with design consultants Stantec. The Aerospace Campus will facilitate the relocation of Centennial’s aircraft maintenance programs, aircraft and equipment from the Ashtonbee Campus Hangar in Scarborough, which in turn will be renovated to provide additional instruction space for existing programs. The Aerospace Campus project is expected to cost $55.4 million, which is supported by the $18.4 million federal contribution, $25.8 million in Ontario government funding and $11.2 million from Centennial College and the college’s partners and donors. The new campus is the first phase in the development of an Aerospace Hub at Downsview Park, which will consist of two additional elements: the relocation of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), and the creation of an Innovation Centre to bring together academic and industry partners to catalyze new research and development initiatives. Establishing the Aerospace Hub is the mandate of the Downs-

view Aerospace Innovation and Research (DAIR) consortium, which represents leading academic and industry organizations from Canada’s aerospace sector.

www.centennialcollege.ca/news/canadian-governmentsupports-centennials-new-aerospace-campus/

AWARDS Edmonton’s Mayor’s Awards honour champions of accessibility.

Residents and organizations that support accessibility for Edmontonians of all abilities were recently celebrated at the 19th annual Mayor’s Awards. Of the 17 nominees, five received awards for their commitment to enhancing the lives of people living with disabilities in Edmonton. The 2015 Mayor’s Awards winners are: Outstanding Service—Northwest Scuba Ventures Limited; Universal Design in Architecture (Residential)—Celebration Homes and the Kleine Family; Universal Design in Architecture (Facility or Dwelling)— Ambrose Place by NiGiNan Housing Ventures and architect Ron Wickman; Employers— Mammoet Canada Western Limited; and Ewen Nelson Award for Self-Advocacy—Dr. Louise Miller. The Mayor’s Awards ceremony is presented by the Accessibility Advisory Committee to citizens who are working to remove barriers to make Edmonton an inclusive and welcoming city. www.edmonton.ca/city_government/news/mayorsawards-honour-champions-of-accessibility.aspx

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CANADIAN ARCHITECT 09/15­­

12

NEWS

ABOVE MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects | Stantec were selected to design the de Havilland Building for Centennial College’s Aerospace Campus in North York, Ontario. The new campus is the first phase in the development of an Aerospace Hub at Downsview Park.

Submissions open for the Graham Foundation’s Carter Manny Award.

The Graham Foundation has announced a new application deadline for the Carter Manny Award, an annual prize for doctoral students working on dissertation topics in architecture. Since the Award’s establishment in 1996, over $672,000 has been awarded to support promising scholars whose doctoral projects shape contemporary discourse about architecture and significantly impact the field. Two of these awards are given each year, one for dissertation writing and one for dissertation research. This prestigious award is offered in honour of Carter H. Manny and his distinguished service to the Graham Foundation since its inception in 1956, first as a Trustee, then as Director from 1971, and since his retirement in 1993, as Director Emeritus. The application deadline is November 15, 2015 and notification will be conducted in Spring 2016. The award is open to students officially enrolled in schools in the US and Canada, regardless of citizenship, but they must be nominated by their department.  www.grahamfoundation.org

WHAT’S NEW Call for 2016 RAIC College of Fellows nominations.

Nominations of new RAIC Fellows are now welcome to be submitted by e-mail to the Chairman of your regional committee for review. Fellowship will be bestowed in recognition of achievements of excellence in architec-

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ture on the basis of the following criteria: design excellence represented by past awards; outstanding scholarly contribution represented by research, publications and education; or distinguished service to the profession or the community. Nomination for fellowship is confidential. Five members (at least one of whom must be a Fellow) are required for each nomination. One of the nominators should be designated as the “primary nominator” and shall ensure all documentation is submitted correctly to the Regional Chair in the region in which the nominee normally resides. No two nominators may be from the same architectural firm or faculty. A member may only support one nomination in a given year. All nominators must be members in good standing of the RAIC, must support only one nominee, and the candidate must both be a member in good standing and have been a member of the RAIC for at least five years prior to nomination as a Fellow. The primary nominator shall provide a curriculum vitae of the nominee and a 250-word citation, in Word format, for the nominee suitable for publication in the convocation booklet. The deadline for receipt of nominations is October 30, 2015. For complete details, please visit the website, e-mail fellows@raic.org or call 613.241.3600 x214. https://raic.org/raic/nomination-members-fellowship

Project Director being sought for the University of Saskatchewan School of Architecture Initiative.

The University of Saskatchewan is seeking an experienced and committed architectural aca-

demic who will bring vision, energy and leadership to the project of establishing a new school of architecture. The Project Director will lead the initiative, and will design and implement a process to achieve five primary goals: definition of an academic program (or sequence of programs) leading to a professional Master of Architecture degree; identification of opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships and support between the proposed School of Architecture and existing related programs at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic; development of support within the academic community at the University of Saskatchewan for the proposed School of Architecture; development of a project budget for capital and operating costs, along with a proposed project implementation schedule; working with the Office of University Advancement to develop a strategy for securing capital and operating funding, including the identification of potential funding sources. The University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Association of Architects, has been investigating the creation of a new school of architecture in order to stimulate scholarly and professional innovation in architecture, and to serve as a as catalyst for the further development of a culture of design and creativity within the province of Saskatchewan. The goals of the proposed program include: the development of a distinctive curriculum reflecting a strong sense of place and relevance with respect to regional cultural and economic opportunities; providing world-class education in the theory and practice of architecture, design and related creative and critical thought processes; the achievement and maintenance of professional accreditation through the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB); and the establishment of an internationally recognized research centre. A series of studies and symposia have been undertaken in recent years, providing a strong case in favour of the proposed school. A detailed program and implementation plan must now be developed in order to pursue approval for the project at the university and provincial levels. This is a term appointment for an anticipated duration of up to two years. Start date is negotiable. Residency in Saskatoon is not a requirement of the position, but the Project Director must spend sufficient time in Saskatoon to successfully achieve the expected outcomes and deliverables described herein. Applicants are asked to submit a proposal, describing how they would approach the project and achieve the outcomes and deliverables outlined above. The terms of employment and the

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work schedule are flexible. The closing date for applications is September 15, 2015. Electronic submissions in PDF format are encouraged but if this is not possible, please send your submission to: Bruce Sparling, Associate Dean Academic, College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A9. All enquires should be directed to Bruce Sparling at bruce.sparling@usask.ca and +1 (306) 966-5366. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/wp-content/up-

loads/sites/24/2015/08/Arch_School_-_Project_Director_-_Position_Profile_-_FINAL_18Aug151.pdf

Call for submissions to the Gladstone Hotel’s fourth annual Grow Op exhibition.

The fourth annual Grow Op exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto is open for submissions. A four-day exhibition that takes place from April 21-24, 2016, it celebrates innovative ideas and conceptual responses to landscape, gardens, art and placemaking under the theme of “The Culture of Landscape.” Proposals are being sought that employ the tools of art, craft and design to reframe our understanding of the shifting boundaries between urban and wild, culture and nature. Can we use the lake to commute to work? Will

local food be able to feed us all? What if pigs were our composters? How did that bear get into my backyard? From community gardening initiatives to experimental landscapes to disruptive art projects, proposals are sought from individuals and collectives whose work engages with landscape, place and habitats with the goal of creating an experiential exhibition of high quality that is evocative and inspiring. The historic Gladstone Hotel offers a unique venue to engage a large audience in a dialogue about the qualities and meaning behind the designed and altered landscape, from the condo balcony to the public square and territories beyond. One of the most intriguing annual exhibitions in Toronto, Grow Op encourages an array of perspectives and dialogues that challenge our perceptions of nature, the built environment and our influences on both. The use of plant material is not a specific requirement. However, if plants are included, appropriate plant selection and a commitment to basic plant care is required. There is no proposal submission fee, but fees to participate will be required once the jury has made its B:9.75” final selections. Room installations are $350 + T:9.25” HST, and site-specific public-space installaS:8” tions and projects are $100 + HST. For further details and to apply, please visit the website

Behind every success story there’s a strong partnership.

13

and complete the submission form online by 11:00pm EST on September 30, 2015.

www.gladstonehotel.com/spaces/growop2016callfor-

CANADIAN ARCHITECT 09/15­

NEWS

submissions/

Tête Jaune: Western Canada Design Show invites submissions.

Tête Jaune returns for a second year, expanding its collaboration with more designers and makers to introduce their products to a larger audience. Last year over one weekend, 18 designers, 47 products, two events, 450 attendees and $5,500 in sales meant that Tête Jaune outperformed expectations in every category. Taking place at the Storefront in Saskatoon from November 5-7 and 10-14, and at DC3 Art Projects in Edmonton from November 19-22 and 26-29, Tête Jaune seeks submissions of furniture, lighting, house goods, personal goods, ceramics and woven goods. The cost to participate is a $75 showing fee per season. Sales are divided between the designer (70%) with a 30% commission fee. All sales are run through Tête Jaune during the event, and designers and makers will be issued payments after the completion of the event. The submission deadline is September 15, 2015. www.têtejaune.com

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THE WORLD’S BEST BAR EVERY CENTIMETRE OF TORONTO’S BAR RAVAL HAS BEEN THOUGHTFULLY CRAFTED BY LOCAL FIRM PARTISANS, WHO USED CNC-MILLED MAHOGANY TO CREATE A RIPPLING INTERIOR DESIGNED TO LAST A CENTURY. Bar Raval, Toronto, Ontario PARTISANS TEXT Terri Peters PHOTOS Jonathan Friedman/PARTISANS PROJECT

ARCHITECT

To appreciate the design of Bar Raval, the best time to visit is early on a weekday. Most other times, the stunning Art Nouveau-inspired interior by Toronto’s PARTISANS is jam-packed with people leaning against the rippling CNC-milled bar, perching by the ergonomic ledges along the windows, and crowding around the wine vats that serve as tables. At 9:00am, there are just two other patrons in the cozy 1,500-squarefoot space, along with a few staff and a chef making stacks of breakfast pintxos in the open kitchen. An assortment of savoury tortilla espagnole and bites of fresh bread topped with cured meat lay on platters at the bar. One can peacefully sip a coffee at the impeccably detailed mahogany bar, or face the breeze at the windows, framed by massive laser-cut steel screens that filter the morning light. Bar Raval is more than a typical shop fit-out, thanks to the perseverance of its detail-obsessed clients and the confidence of its ambitious young designers. Together, they transformed a nondescript brick building into a multi-sensory environment combining adventurous dining and design concepts. “The client wanted to create the best bar in the world,” says PARTISANS cofounder Alexander Josephson, recalling his first meeting with celebrity chef Grant van Gameren, who co-owns the establishment with mixologists Mike Webster and Robin Goodfellow. “He brought bankers’ boxes full of Art Nouveau images, books on Spanish tile history and cuisine manuals,” says Josephson. The interior encourages people to move around and interact, so there are few chairs and no room dividers. Van Gameren’s favourite space is a curvy wooden ledge that creates an indoor-outdoor table where people can gather. “The design reflects the experience I want people to have when they come into the bar,” he says. “You can see a relaxed, open body language reflected in the room.” Josephson and his team centred the design on a digitally fabricated mahogany bar, which seems to flow out of the dark wood floor, growing and stretching upwards to join the curvilinear walls and ceiling. “We reinvented the way the bar is laid out for this project. It looks very whimsical and aesthetic, but everything is designed to be functional,” says Josephson, pointing out integrated arm rails, an indentation that serves as a citrus bowl, and another area carved for holding bread. “The ceiling above became the chandelier; the apertures that you see are holding up shelves.” The bar also incorporates personal eclectic touches, such as Wu Tang

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Clan motifs laser-cut into the integrated steel drip trays and the metal kitchen shelves. The owners are huge fans, and van Gameren insisted that these details be included. For the beer taps, the designers moulded the different bartenders’ hands to create bespoke removable grips that will be cast in bronze. They also mocked up the bar’s edge in clay to get an imprint of the head bartender’s lean, then remade the form in wood to create a perfectly comfortable support. The interior is technologically experimental and also architecturally skillful, a rare combination. PARTISANS collaborated with local fabricators MCM and software engineers Mastercam to design a fabrication

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ABOVE The counter, walls and ceiling of Bar Raval are adorned with CNC-cut solid mahogony boards. Instead of straight seams between the panels, the designers created S-shaped joints that accentuate the bar’s curvilinear geometries and accommodate for seasonal warping and shrinkage of the wood. Integrated lighting, shelving and display areas are also meticulously executed in this compact design.

process for the CNC elements that retained the machine pathways, rather than smoothing them over with a final pass. All in all, the process engraved nine kilometres of grooves into more than 60 wood panels. PARTISANS recently won an American Institute of Architects’ R&D Award for the technique; juror and pioneering digital designer Marc Fornes praised the project as “an exquisite application of the technology, and certainly a precise one.”

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The designers realized that due to the inevitable warping and shrinking of the wood in changing temperatures, the seams needed to be carefully planned. They designed S-shaped seams between the panels that allowed the edges to be perpendicular to the milling, making them more durable during fabrication and providing a natural, flowing transition between panels. Many big-budget interiors use digital fabrication techniques—the

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The bar counter includes designated areas for bottles and a generous counter where platters of food can be put on display; a detail of the wood panels, which retain the grooves from the CNC machine’s robotic cutting tool; a hollow at the end of the counter serves as a citrus bowl. ABOVE Corten steel screens are cut with a pattern reminiscent of vintage tiles, lending a speckled shade to the bar’s window seating.

OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP

wood for the bar and walls alone cost over $250,000. Architecturally, “it is the ethos that makes this project different,” says Josephson. “CNC is not a new technology, but being a designer and being able to control the software that controls the robotic arm—that actually is new.” Eclectic pin-up areas and mood boards on the walls of PARTISANS’ studio point to multiple sources of inspiration: Gaudí, rivers, wood grains, even the muscular forms and tattoos of their clients. “They challenged us to reinvent Spanish Art Nouveau for Toronto,” says Josephson. “But how do you bring any new interpretation to something that was already so ahead of its time?” The young office had few built projects when they were commissioned, but they were not short on ambition. They focused on using digital study models to test scale and material mock-ups to refine finishes. Their pin-up boards are crowded with wood details, hand sketches, tool-path diagrams, and digital drawings of laser-cut steel patterns. The team hit a steep learning curve translating the design from digital files to the tool paths of the CNC machine. In an earlier project for a CNC-milled sauna, the designers found that creating perfectly smooth surfaces that joined together seamlessly was extremely difficult. The ribbed wood details at Bar Raval were an attempt to add texture and make it harder to see imperfections and joints—although it actually made it more difficult to line up seams and patterns. “We had trouble getting the software to distinguish between the pattern lines and the cuts,” says PARTISANS partner Pooya Baktash. They worked closely with the software engineers in developing patches to the computer code to make it work.

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A constraint for Bar Raval was that the tailor-made interior renovation could not impact the structure or exterior façade, as the clients don’t own the building. Van Gameren suggests, half-jokingly, that it would be possible to pack up the customized interior and take it with him if Bar Raval ever has to move on. Only a few months after opening, the owners installed a wood deck, awning and secondary kitchen outside for additional space, a move that increased capacity by about twothirds. But these additions are off-the-shelf components, and the investment and design impact remain on the interior. In an era when many eateries are decorated with barn board and chalkboard paint, Bar Raval stands out. PARTISANS has produced a highconcept interior that works at multiple scales, from the space-defining mahogany bar to the bespoke ledges, niches and details that encourage people to move around the space. “The clients told us they wanted this place to last 100 years,” says Josephson. And it just might. Terri Peters is a post-doctoral researcher at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Her current research investigates how architecture can shape behaviour with regard to residential health-care environments.

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CLIENTS GRANT VAN GAMEREN, MIKE WEBSTER AND ROBIN GOODFELLOW ARCHITECT TEAM ALEX-

ANDER JOSEPHSON, POOYA BAKTASH, JONATHAN FRIEDMAN, IVAN VASYLIV, ARIEL COOKE | CONTRACTOR GRANT VAN GAMEREN | WOOD FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION MCM2001 INC. | METALS MCM2001 INC. | LIGHTING TPL LIGHTING | WINDOWS TRADEWOOD | HVAC PERFECT DEGREE | AUDIO PLAYLIST | PROJECT MANAGEMENT PARTISANS | AREA 93 M2 | BUDGET WITHHELD | COMPLETION FEBRUARY 2015

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RYERSON RISES RYERSON UNIVERSITY’S RECENTLY OPENED STUDENT LEARNING CENTRE OFFERS A COLOURFUL SPECTRUM OF SPACES FOR READING, GROUP STUDY AND JUST PLAIN HANGING OUT.

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Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, Toronto, Ontario Snøhetta (Executive Architect) with Zeidler Partnership Architects TEXT Elsa Lam PHOTOS Lorne Bridgeman unless otherwise noted PROJECT

ARCHITECTS

It’s grand opening day at the Ryerson University Student Learning Centre and the building is buzzing with activity. Each of the eight floors is packed with students, who fill seats and study rooms and perch on ramps and benches. They aren’t here for the opening ceremony though, which is largely a VIP event. They’re here to use the building, the way it was intended for them. As the university website explains, this newly opened edifice “provides Ryerson students with an outstanding environment to study, collaborate and discover.” Or as I heard one student describe it to a friend in an appreciative tone, “it’s just, like, a giant building to hang out in.” Designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta with Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto, the Student Learning Centre takes trends in 21st-century learning to heart, and blends them with the look of a hip Silicon Valley workplace. Attached to the University’s existing central library, the building is a conglomeration of informal learning areas. There’s a café on the ground floor, a digital tech lab with 3D printers on the third, resources for students with learning disabilities on the fourth, and throughout the remaining floor plates, many large and small spaces dedicated to reading, working and group learning.

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OPPOSITE Located at the bustling corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, the Student Learning Centre gives an iconic presence to Ryerson University. ABOVE The triple-height atrium is ringed with bleacher-like seating ideal for people-watching with a coffee and a laptop.

The template for the floors is relatively simple. Large open reading rooms sprawl alongside the facility’s generously windowed façades. Towards the middle of the floor plates are smaller enclosed rooms—group study areas, classrooms and offices. Within this basic parti, each floor has a distinct layout and its own particular character. A theme colour—from apple green to sunrise orange—adds vibrancy to each level. The configuration of the central rooms, and the area occupied by them, varies depending on specific programmatic needs. The intimately scaled seventh floor (warm grey) is riddled with a dense array of graduate study rooms, with glass walls fritted to recall fog rising from a forest floor. The top floor, by contrast (glacier blue), has an especially tall ceiling, angling up and over a grand reading space towards panoramic city views. “Every floor is different, so you always find unique little spaces,” explains architect Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta. “You’re also confronted with a different need to navigate, so your mind is always having to work.” But because the floor plates are relatively small, he adds, “It’s impossible to get lost in this building.” Around the perimeter, the glass façade is etched with a pattern of rounded geometric shapes that cut glare, while allowing ample natural

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ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The largely open-plan top floor is bathed in natural light; areas of clear glass offer views of the downtown cityscape; the fifth floor features study rooms encased in translucent red panels; the fourth-floor learning support centre includes service counters as well as small offices for private tutoring. OPPOSITE Two views of the sixth floor, nicknamed “the Beach” for its semi-circular cascade of tiered seating. Patio furniture and beanbag chairs complete the laidback setting for study and socializing.

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light to enter in pleasing, dappled patterns. Clear portions frame views of the city, doubling as popular spots for selfies. Areas with all-clear glass are rare, but on the top level, one such area faces straight up Yonge Street, offering a dramatic vista. On several floors, colour-tinted glass encloses study rooms and classrooms. Rather than resulting in the fun-house effect one might expect, the rooms have normal white illumination when their lights are turned on. That’s achieved by balancing light levels inside and outside the rooms—a trick that Dykers figured out when designing a bus stop in Lysaker, Norway. The most unique floor is the completely open-plan sixth level, nicknamed “the Beach.” Long, low benches extend diagonally across the space, terracing down towards a patch of blue carpet. A continuous ramp weaves the terraces together, making the landscape fully accessible. Overhead, standard fluorescent tubes, arranged in concentric circles, are visible from the street at night, recalling the iconic Sam the Record Man sign—a giant neon LP, much beloved by Torontonians— that adorned the building formerly occupying the site. Patio and beanbag chairs are strewn throughout the Beach, though many prefer to simply stake out a place on the floor. A few students have shown up in swimsuits, and breakdancers periodically claim an upper corner for an impromptu jam session. This is a space with the vibrancy of a city square—a wonderful and unlikely achievement for an indoor room. The large, open spaces throughout the building are made possible partially by skewing the structural system at a 45-degree angle to the

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rectilinear shape of the plan. This means that columns are pushed towards the edges of rooms, freeing space along the long diagonal spans of the grid. Some columns end up in the middle of spaces, but because they are not part of an insistent grid, they appear as isolated features. “In the heroic days of Modernism, the module needed to be clearly understood,” says Dykers. The designers here chose to take an opposite approach, masking the module rather than revealing it. Quiet floors alternate with louder floors, and—with the reminder of a few taped-up signs—the division between the two types of spaces is well respected. But even the loud floors, despite many animated conversations, aren’t ear-shattering. “Acoustics are the unsung hero of architecture,” says Dykers. Absorbent surfaces have been incorporated throughout, in cleverly integrated ways. Floors and walls are covered with sound-absorbent felt wool, and a stucco-like acoustic finish is applied to the slab ceilings. On the ground floor, acoustic material is stuffed behind origami-like aluminum ceiling tiles. The loudest sound in the three-storey main lobby, which hums with conversation, is the click of high-heeled shoes on the wooden feature stair. Under University President Sheldon Levy, Ryerson has been on a kick to integrate its campus with its busy downtown location, and this building is no exception. Retail spaces, a future revenue source, have been tucked along the ground façade facing Yonge Street. To integrate with the street, the sidewalk folds up from the corner, transitioning into a wide grand staircase that leads to the lobby. An obligatory double-door vestibule protects against winter winds, and while the opening isn’t the full width of the building as suggested in early study models—the flow

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ABOVE LEFT A geometric pattern enlivens the fritted glass façade enclosing the south and west sides of the buiding. Opaque, translucent and transparent areas are calibrated to balance light, views and heat gain. ABOVE RIGHT The building welcomes students with outdoor seating and a striking blue canopy clad with orgami-like folded metal tiles.

of movement is smooth and intuitive. Cerulean blue tiles wrap from the lobby ceiling, extending out to the street and up the outside corner of the building, creating a sense of invitation from the street to the Learning Centre. The welcome is extended not only to students, but to curious visitors from the city at large. Currently, there are no security checkpoints where you need to flash student ID, as is the case in several other bigcity university libraries. (However, you do need an access card to enter rooms that contain digital projectors or other equipment.) Hopefully, it can remain this way—security creates pinch points, and detracts from the feeling of freedom and openness at the heart of this building. Qualms about the Ryerson Student Learning Centre are minor. At street level, the retail spaces appear disappointingly generic—they could have been more inspired, bringing the building’s exuberant energy to this commercial stretch of Yonge Street. At the basement level, the building is one wall away from connecting to the Dundas subway station, a link that will hopefully materialize in the future. Inside, the elevators are often overloaded—although with time, students may discover the twin fire stairs, which have been gussied up with supergraphics and slot windows. The grand wood stair in the lobby will wear down quick-

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ly, particularly with traffic from salt-encrusted winter boots. Students will grow fond of favourite spaces, and be disappointed when others claim them by arriving earlier in the day. Such is the price of popularity. Dykers is hopeful that soon, the architects’ role in the project will recede as the building takes on a life of its own: “Within a short period of time, people won’t remember the architects’ names. They’ll just think of it as their building—they’ll drive by and say, that’s our Learning Centre. That’s when it’s a good building.” Judging by its instant appeal to Ryerson’s students, this moment will arrive soon, if it hasn’t already.

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CLIENT RYERSON UNIVERSITY ARCHITECT TEAM SNØHETTA—CRAIG DYKERS, MICHAEL COTTON,

JON KONTULY, SAMUEL BRISSETTE, MICHAEL LOVERICH, DENNIS RIJKHOFF, ANNE-RACHEL SCHIFFMANN. ZEIDLER PARTNERSHIP ARCHITECTS—VAIDILA BANELIS, MIKE SMITH, RICHARD JOHNSON, MITSURU DELISLE, JOAN JAN, OKSANA VERBY. | STRUCTURAL CH2M HILL (FORMERLY HALCROW YOLLES) | MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL CROSSEY ENGINEERING | CIVIL RV ANDERSON LTD. | LANDSCAPE SNØHETTA WITH EXECUTIVE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT FERRIS ASSOCIATES | INTERIORS SNØHETTA | CONTRACTOR ELLISDON | LEED CEL GRUEN | LIGHTING CONSULLUX LIGHTING CONSULTANTS/CROSSEY ENGINEERING LTD. | A/V NOVITA | WAYFINDING ENTRO | ACOUSTICS AERCOUSTICS | CODE LRI ENGINEERING INC. | HARDWARE UPPER CANADA HARDWARE INC. | AREA 14,200 M2 | BUDGET $112 M | COMPLETION FEBRUARY 2015

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EASTERN STAR CANADIAN-TRAINED NELSON CHOW IS ONE OF HONG KONG’S EMERGING DESIGN TALENTS. TEXT

Jean-François Goyette Dennis Lo

PHOTOS

Canadian architecture is rife with stories of immigration and emigration. Some of the country’s most talented designers have come from abroad—

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ABOVE The retro interior of Mrs. Pound is packed with colourful and narrative-rich details. BOTTOM Two images show the disguised exterior of the speakeasy, whose door opens when customers press a specific stamp in the display.

and others have left in pursuit of fresh opportunities. Many young designers train in Canada, then elect to return to their home countries to build a career. That’s the path taken by one of Hong Kong’s rising stars in the realm of interior architectural design, Nelson Chow. From a solo practice started four years ago, Chow has made his mark in commercial spaces across the city—and with a recent commission to design McDonald’s flagship stores throughout the eastern hemisphere,

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ABOVE, TOP TO BOTTOM The Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant features a vaulted canopy made of CNC-cut wood members; curved brass modules frame a VIP dining area to the side of the main entrance. OPPOSITE The McDonald’s flagship restaurant in Shenzhen incorporates local references such as graphics on bamboo screens, an oversized abacus serving as a room divider, and lights modelled after bamboo steaming baskets.

he is poised to spread his Canadian-bred design vision across Asia. Initially drawn to fashion design, Chow shifted pragmatically towards architecture, graduating from the University of Waterloo in 2004. He moved to New York after graduation, where he became licensed and, on the side, took evening classes in menswear design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Returning to Hong Kong to be closer to family, he worked for Edge Design—a local practice well known for creating interiors that maximize the limited space available in the dense urban fabric—before starting out on his own in 2011. In Hong Kong, sky-high land prices and a competitive tendering process mean that large-scale commissions inevitably go to established consortia of

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architectural corporations and developers. For an emerging designer such as Chow, the strategy was to design bold and inspired interiors, largely for the city’s bustling restaurants. In contrast to the repetitive plans that characterize the city’s skyscrapers, Chow’s spaces present tailor-made respites rich with narrative. In the Sheung Wan neighbourhood, a traditional antiques district located a five-minute walk from the central business area, one of Chow’s projects appears as an inconspicuous shopfront tucked away on a hilly side street. Exterior vitrines hold an extensive collection of stone seals in a myriad of materials and shapes, disguising what is held within. The store’s name—Mr. Ming’s Stamp Shop—is a decoy. 

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Press the correct stamp in the display, and a door opens to a 45-seat speakeasy called Mrs. Pound. Inside, the decor tells the fictional story of long-lost lovers—Mrs. Pound, a burlesque dancer from 1950s Shanghai and Mr. Ming, a Hong Kong shopkeeper. The decor echoes pastiche elements from the Orient of the mid-20th century. A green and red palette forms a retro backdrop for an array of custom fixtures, such as mirrors and lighting inspired by gymnasts’ rings. Common tiles from a local shop help set Mrs. Pound within the material language of the city; the tiles are laid in colourful, inventive patterns. For Chow, the idea of designing a holistic experience is important, with each visit offering the potential for a new discovery that brings the guest deeper into the story. Chow’s focus on customization is reflected in another recent project: the Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant on the 10th floor of a shopping centre in Causeway Bay, the retail heart of Hong Kong. The restaurant was established in 1967; Chow aimed to rejuvenate the brand while relating to its rich history. The resulting design combines both classical and modern elements, contrasting vintage and streamlined details.  Upon entering through a curved passageway, guests are seated in a vaulted dining room. The ceiling is lined with CNC-milled wooden halfarches, yielding a complex geometrical form and spatial effect from a simple pattern. Bespoke wall sconces, chairs with velour backs, and houndstooth wallpaper reinforce the contemporary interpretation of 1960s Hong Kong. Spatially, the ceiling helps break the dining room into intimate areas, while additional wooden separators define private dining rooms. Chow’s holistic design is applied at all scales, from the architectural interior down to staff uniforms and branding. Nowhere is the contrast between mass customization and mass production more apparent than in Chow’s work for McDonald’s. For a brand

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more commonly known for global supply-chain logistics rather than design, it may seem unusual for someone like Chow to be involved. His function, however, isn’t in the roll-out of plastic-molded furnishings. As lead interior designer, his firm is responsible for the chain’s flagship restaurants in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. In contrast to the loud colours typical of McDonald’s restaurants in North America, Chow’s interiors for the chain are more reminiscent of Scandinavian design, utilizing natural materials and minimal graphics. The restaurants present an opportunity to link each of the stores to their local settings through design accents. The McDonald’s flagship in Shenzhen, for instance, includes lighting fixtures reminiscent of the bamboo baskets used for steaming rice-flour buns. An oversized abacus with red beads is deployed to divide the space. Pillar-like seats recall the posts used in traditional Chinese architecture. Abstracted Chinese graphics are applied to table and wall surfaces. Within the limitations of the brand’s systematic design guidelines, Chow finds ways to link to local context and to tell a story. The meticulous execution of Chow’s work owes much to his education— studying in a practice-based program at the University of Waterloo and in the detail-oriented field of tailoring. Is there an element of his work that makes it fundamentally Canadian? It’s hard to say. He does, however, join a growing contingent of architects with Canadian links—such as the wellestablished Bing Thom and newer upstarts Jet Architecture (part of the winning team that recently won the M+ Arts Pavilion competition in West Kowloon)—who are bringing their talents and experience across continents to land on Hong Kong’s shores.   Jean-François Goyette is an architectural writer and editor, currently working in Hong Kong.

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ÁLVARO

SIZA

LECTURE 24 .09.2015, 6 pm

in conjunction with the exhibition

CORNER, BLOCK, NEIGHBOURHOOD, CITIES. ÁLVARO SIZA IN BERLIN AND THE HAGUE 24.09.2015 – 07.02.2016

cca.qc.ca Centre Canadien d’Architecture Canadian Centre for Architecture 1920, rue Baile, Montréal 514 939 7026

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#sizacca

The CCA gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Image: Álvaro Siza, 26 April, 2012. Photo © CCA

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Adele Weder

MUSEUMS ACROSS CANADA ARE GROWING, AND CONFRONTING THE DIFFICULT CHOICE BETWEEN EXPANDING ON SITE AND BUILDING NEW QUARTERS OFF SITE. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM PROJECTS IN THE SPACE-CRUNCHED NETHERLANDS? If the past is a foreign country, Canadian museum boards might do well to look both to the past and to foreign countries. I recently toured the work of Dutch architect Hans van Heeswijk, who is riding a wave of acclaim for museum expansions across the Netherlands, garnering the kind of attention that in North America is more typically reserved for new builds. Continental Europe has long been obliged to work this way, filling in rather than flailing out, as its buildable land pretty much ran out somewhere around the last colony-shucking.

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ABOVE Amsterdam’s expanded Van Gogh Museum includes a spacious atrium that links below-grade spaces to the existing museum. BOTTOM LEFT The pavilion-like expansion faces the city’s Museum Plaza.

Is there something to be gleaned from the Dutch experience? As Canadian cities reach a critical density and our museums outgrow their 1970s homes, museum boards and architects from coast to coast are facing tough choices between expanding on site or creating larger quarters farther afield. Van Heeswijk’s latest oeuvre is the expansion of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which he took over from Kisho Kurokawa after the Japanese architect’s death in 2007. Added on to a fairly mundane 1973 building (itself a posthumous completion of a Gerrit Rietveld design), the new double-height glazed entrance wing resolves the popular museum’s longstanding issue of endless lineups and bottlenecks. Beyond the pragmatics, the new foyer offers what Amsterdam critic Jaap Huisman calls “a rite of passage for visitors to shake off the impressions of the street and prepare themselves spiritually for the art that awaits them.” Given the institution’s severely constricted location on Museum Square in the centre of historic Amsterdam, it might have seemed impossible to expand the original building, let along bring it up to the current standards of global tourism. The Kurokawa/van Heeswijk scheme heads to the largest untapped site in modern cities: underground. It adds generous overhead fenestration to flood the new spaces with light. The subgrade extension serves not only as reception foyer but also as tunnel from the existing permanent exhibition spaces to a newly added temporary exhibition hall. The Van Gogh Museum is the latest in a string of van Heeswijk projects that exhibit ingenious modes of maximizing space in confined quarters. Last year, he completed an underground expansion of the Netherlands’

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LUUK KRAMER

INSITES

LUUK KRAMER

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ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The Mauritshuis Museum expansion in The Hague also includes a below-grade atrium; the new entrance hall to the Mauritshuis Museum; a section shows the connection between the existing museum and an addition occupying the building across the street; the interior of a proposed expansion of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects; the addition wraps around a portion of the existing museum. OPPOSITE, TOP TO BOTTOM Currently under construction, the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan will replace Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery; a view of Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture’s earlier plan to expand the Mendel on its existing site.

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Mauritshuis Museum in the historic district of The Hague, and in 2009 a deft renewal of a 17th-century city-owned retirement home into the Hermitage Amsterdam museum. The ingenuity of these additions offered fresh perspective on the wealth of possibilities in Canada’s current wave of museum expansions. Smaller cities like Victoria and Fredericton are finding that transforming existing buildings can yield more than the sum of the old and new parts. Meanwhile, in Saskatoon, where I grew up, and in my adopted hometown of Vancouver, major museums are taking up new sites—when on-site expansions could have been viable—and, perhaps, preferable. Next month, Vancouver-based LWPAC in joint venture with Moore Architecture will unveil their design for a visually stunning steel-clad addition for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), with a glazed hallway linking the original 1889 building to the new space. At the other end of the country, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects is transforming the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, leaving the 1958 Howell & Stewart building at the core and wrapping a contemporary design around it like an architectural cloak. Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery was on track to expand its original 1964 building by Blankstein, Coop, Gillmor and Hanna (now Number TEN Architectural Group), which would have doubled its size while retaining its mid-century character. Local firm Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture had completed working drawings for the expansion when the gallery’s board was lured by a lucrative offer to build a brand-new structure—with a different firm, new gallery name and relocation from its storied riverbank setting to the other side of downtown. (Museum director Terry Graff resigned and soon after assumed the director’s position at the Beaverbrook, where he is now bringing the MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple expansion to fruition.) The new Saskatoon gallery—which will be renamed the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan when it opens next year—will be no slouch. The design team is led by KPMB Architects in association with Smith Carter (now Architecture 49). KPMB is a firm as capable of both brilliant

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new museums and the renewal of older buildings, as with its 1992 transformation of the Parkin-designed Art Gallery of Ontario. But the decision to abandon the original building remains a bitter disappointment for many Saskatonians and others in the Canadian art community. While there can be huge advantages and opportunities in relocating, the Mendel board’s about-face reconfirms how uncomfortably dependent a museum’s architectural direction is on its prospective donors. Privately, insiders will tell you that even when on-site additions are viable architecturally, they are a harder sell for garnering funds. That’s one of the many legacies of Frank Gehry’s 1997 Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which for some time entrenched the spanking-new standalone museum as the model. Governments can more easily imagine that a new build will be an economic kickstarter, as it was in Bilbao, and donors can imagine themselves the patrons of a building the whole world talks about. In our country’s most ambitious museum proposal of the moment, the board of the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is hoping to build a new $350-milllion building on a site several blocks away from its current location. The concept design by Herzog & de Meuron will be released at the end of September. The institution has outgrown its existing quarters, created by Arthur Erickson and his team in a conversion of the former British Columbia provincial courthouse. If the funds can be raised, the new building will almost certainly become an instant landmark. But if the wallets of governments and big-gun donors remain as tightly closed as they have to this point, the VAG brass may well have to reconsider its earlier rejection of on-site expansion. Can we draw lessons not only from the Netherlands, but from our own past design approaches? Bruno Freschi, who was on the gallery’s original 1970s design team, points out that Erickson himself first conceived of the gallery as being expandable on site: their design team had originally proposed a flexible three-block development project, with the gallery on the northern block, the provincial law courts on the southern block, and a “surge space” built into the centre block, which would accommodate a huge H-shaped tower.

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INSITES

COURTESY CANADIAN ARCHITECTURAL ARCHIVES

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ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT A view of Arthur Erickson’s 1970s proposal for a tower extension to the Vancouver Art Gallery, sandwiched between the existing gallery and the Law Courts; a rendering from a recent proposal by Peter Cardew for an underground expansion to the gallery; Cardew’s proposed expansion would sit below the north lawn of the current gallery and incorporate skylights to bring in natural light.

That centre block, says Freschi, could still be redeveloped as an expansion space with a residential tower to pay for the on-site transformation and expansion of the gallery itself over Robson Street—just as Erickson had envisioned. And additional gallery space could be developed underground, suggests Freschi. Also drawing on the subterranean theme, Vancouver architect Peter Cardew has circulated a much-discussed conceptual proposal for a top-lit subterranean expansion of the VAG. “We’ve calculated that if they build a new gallery on this existing site, they could save over $100 million,” says Cardew, who had contributed to a 2004 study of expansion possibilities. Moreover, the City of Vancouver would be free to sell the lot it had reserved for the new VAG site, garnering another $50 million in funds. Cardew’s concept proposal takes advantage of the sloping site to incorporate angular glazing that would flood the edges of subgrade gallery spaces with daylight. Cardew cites Herzog & de Meuron’s Tate Modern in London as one of many world-class examples of transforming an existing building into a magnificent new gallery. Behind the scenes, VAG insiders say that a subgrade expansion of the older building wouldn’t fly with prospective donors. Cardew doesn’t buy it: “Imagine if the Tate had said we could

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never sell a new gallery out of an old power plant!” Not every aging museum can be infilled or otherwise expanded on site: sometimes it makes more sense to relocate and build fresh. In fact, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria spent years exploring the possibility of establishing a new building elsewhere in the city, before determining that onsite expansion made the most sense. “One cannot deal with this dogmatically,” says LWPAC principal Oliver Lang. “This on-site expansion turned out to be the right solution in Victoria, because it was able to best serve the needs of a contemporary museum.” The 19th-century Spencer Mansion, outdated as an exhibition space, will become the updated administration centre of the AGGV. “It is a great thing to have this connection from the past to the contemporary,” says Lang, “a beautiful dialogue between the buildings.” Research for this article was conducted in part during a tour sponsored by the Dutch government. The tour organizers did not review or approve the content of this article. Adele Weder is an architectural curator and critic based in British Columbia.

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Landscape Architecture in Canada By Ron Williams. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014. Also available in French.

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This unique compendium is the outcome of 15 years of patient research undertaken by Montreal landscape architect Ron Williams. The author takes us on an amazing journey from pre-colonial times to the present, through Canada’s rural and urban landscapes from coast to coast to coast. After a brief introduction to geomorphological considerations, the reader is invited to an informative exploration of the ways of the First Nations, before the arrival of the Europeans. There follows a wide survey of early settlements and subsequent waves of immigration, gradually spreading across the land. Looking to the 19th and early 20th centuries, Williams documents the birth of a new profession. His wide-ranging exploration surveys the Halifax Public Gardens to the public and private gardens of Victoria, British Columbia, and everything in between. The author explores the history of ideas in landscape—how, for example, cemeteries led to large urban parks and how the City Beautiful movement inspired the designers of legislative and university grounds. Throughout, the emphasis is placed on the outstanding individuals—professionals and decision-makers— who engaged in the creation and protection of the landscapes and city landmarks we still cherish today. The second half of Williams’ tome deals with the post-WWI era up until today. We are introduced to key people who had a tremendous impact on Canadian cities and landscape, including amateur gardeners such as Elsie Reford and trained professionals such as Frederick Todd and Humphrey Carver. A feminist at heart, Williams also pays tribute to women who were pioneers in the field. Thus, we are reacquainted with Helen M. Kippax, Frances Steinhoff, and Frances McLeod—who, after studying at the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture, one of three American institutions offering women specialized training—returned to Toronto where they each contributed to the emergence of the profession. After acknowledging contemporaries and younger colleagues such as Claude Cormier, Williams chooses to end his book on a foreboding note. The last chapter, written before the most recent oil crisis, raises larger environmental issues. In his gentlemanly manner, Williams does not hesitate in tackling Alberta’s oil sands industry, which he compares to Nova Scotia’s now defunct coal industry. He asks: “Is the Athabasca region destined to recapitulate the harsh destiny of Cape Breton, where industry demanded a high human and ecological cost that we are still paying, hundreds of years after the first exploitation?” Much more could be said about this well-written and abundantly illustrated publication, which at times reads almost like a novel. Thanks, Mr. Williams! Odile Hénault is an architecture critic, curator and professional advisor. 

Breaking and Entering: The Contemporary House Cut, Spliced and Haunted Edited by Bridget Elliott. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015.

Houses—fundamental spaces within the domain of architecture—also serve as productive subjects for artists. The essays and artworks contained in Breaking and Entering are engaged in rethinking what these most intimate spaces might be at the beginning of the 21st century. As home ownership becomes more elusive, fantasies of shelter and domesticity remain crucial to the popular imagination, and the work featured in this volume breaks down houses from the domestic to the disastrous, challenging the security of house and home as both structure and idea. Treating topics from Hurricane Katrina evacuation camps to Rachel Whiteread’s Village (an eerie town of illuminated dollhouses), the essays contained in the volume offer commentary on the relationships between home and questions of gender, displacement and class. Qualities of homeliness and unhomeliness—Freud’s unheimlich—are repeatedly addressed. Breaking down the idea of the house, artists ask their audiences to enter into domestic arrangements that highlight the strangeness (and often precariousness) of a sense of home. Throughout the book, the particular conditions of our contemporary environment and its foregrounding of ideals of homemaking remain present. As Bridget Elliott, the collection’s editor, writes in her introduction, “the more ‘plugged in’ our domestic environments become, the more we are exposed to the crises that threaten them and the more we are attracted to nostalgic images of homes as refuge.” While we post online images of our coffee table vignettes and perfectly lit breakfast plates, our coupled and solitary bliss, we click through to disaster stories, images of destruction, credit warnings and storm forecasts. Breaking and Entering shows how, across media, these competing forces—especially manifested as compulsions to build and to break—reveal the tenuous nature of the shelter we call home. Ruth Jones is a Toronto-based writer.

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Passages Insolites/Unusual Passages 2015 July 2-November 2, 2015

Discover 12 playful and intriguing installations in Quebec City by visual artists and architecture collectives that question our relation to the world and to urban space. http://passagesinsolites.com

Shaping Canadian Modernity: The 1958 Toronto City Hall and Square Competition and its Legacy

tures, installations, tours, film screenings and symposia.

partment of Architectural Science at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Awards, and features Jack Diamond as guest speaker.

Arthur Erickson: Site Lines

Innovative Urban Design Aspects of Revell’s Design for Toronto City Hall

2015 Green Building Festival

www.winnipegdesignfestival.net

September 17-October 18, 2015

This exhibition at the UQAM Centre de Design in Montreal presents drawings and sketches illustrating eight of Arthur Erickson’s projects from the 1960s and their intrinsic relationship to site.

www.arch.ryerson.ca

September 24, 2015

George Baird speaks at 7:00pm at Toronto City Hall about the urban design aspects of Viljo Revell’s winning iconic design.

Álvaro Siza lecture

Interior Design Show West

September 1-October 9, 2015

September 24, 2015

September 24-27, 2015

This exhibition at Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science focuses on the 1958 international competition for Toronto City Hall and its impact.

Álvaro Siza speaks at the Canadian Centre for Architecture at 6:00pm in support of an upcoming exhibition of his work, offering a glimpse into his architectural practice and inspiring career.

This highly popular event at the Vancouver Convention Centre West features celebrated designer Jonathan Adler and Design Within Reach founder Rob Forbes.

www.arch.ryerson.ca

www.idswest.com

www.cca.qc.ca

Winnipeg Design Festival

Ottawa Urban Design Awards

September 16-19, 2015

Nasrine Seraji lecture

September 30, 2015

This popular annual event celebrates and promotes contemporary design and art in the city of Winnipeg through competitions, lec-

September 24, 2015

This gala event at the heritage Horticulture Building in Lansdowne Park celebrates the winners of the 2015 Ottawa Urban Design

Nasrine Seraji of Paris-based Atelier Seraji Architectes & Associés lectures at 6:30pm at the De-

http://urbanforum.ca

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October 1, 2015

Daniels Spectrum in Toronto is the venue for a number of international experts speaking on cutting-edge projects and inspiring case studies focusing on the theme of “Building Resilient Communities: Community-Scale Planning and Development for a More Resilient Urban Landscape.” http://sbcanada.org/gbfestival/

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto October 3, 2015

More than 70 independent projects by Toronto’s arts community will be featured in this all-night event, along with City of Torontocurated exhibitions showcasing 45+ public art projects by local, national and international artists. www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca

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BACKPAGE LEFT Archaeological remains from Quebec City’s original shoreline feature prominently in the Musée de la civilisation’s Grand Hall. The building, designed by Moshe Safdie FRAIC, includes a cascade of indoor and outdoor courtyards that knit the museum into its tight urban site.

ART JAMES (REPRINTED FROM THE CANADIAN ARCHITECT, MARCH 1989)

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MUSÉE DE LA CIVILISATION TEXT

Thomas-Bernard Kenniff

Quebec City’s relationship with the St-Lawrence River is deeply ingrained in its local and national identities. In the last 40 years, many projects have attempted to reclaim the shores for its citizens, negotiating the complex overlap of municipal and federal jurisdictions, industrial shipping operations and the tourism industry. In the Old Port, where these relationships are at their most intricate, cruise liners bring thousands of visitors to the UNESCO world heritage site every summer, depositing them a stone’s throw from the 27-year-old Musée de la civilisation. The articulation of the city’s relationship with the river was central to the 1980 competition for the museum, won by Moshe Safdie Associates with Belzile, Brassard, Gallienne, Lavoie (BBGL), Sungur Incesulu architecte, and Desnoyers Mercure architectes. Developed during the first years that the Parti Québécois was in power (and launched during a referendum year), the competition touched on cultural identity while seeking the regeneration of the Old Port district. After the museum opened in 1988, a review in The Canadian Architect debated the worth of its metaphorical language and architectural quotations. Twenty-seven years after its completion, the project’s success has hinged less on these factors than on the architectural form given to its institutional program and its spatial integration

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with the historic district. Michel Côté, the museum’s director since 2010, has been involved with the Musée de la civilisation since 1987. He sees the project as a transition from museums as conservation centres to museums as social centres. The museum negotiates this transition both architecturally and institutionally by being “a welcoming and open place, a place of passages and exchanges.” The Grand Hall remains to this day the project’s greatest strength: an airy interior space that welcomes over 600,000 visitors a year where one can see the exposed archaeological remains of the original shoreline and attend public events held by organizations including the nearby Laval University School of Architecture. Located at the museum’s heart, the Grand Hall is part of a siting strategy that responds to the history and poetics of the site. The building connects to its urban context partly through visual elements, but mostly through a play on the existing street layout. Through its accessible roof terraces and central courtyards (one interior, another exterior), the museum supports the flow of people between front and back streets while keeping a fairly hermetic edge. The courtyard strategy, criticized in this magazine’s pages as an “enclave” and “microcosm,” now seems rather appropriate, reflecting local institutional typolo-

gies and the project’s infill context. The integration of a 20,250-square-metre building into the tight historical fabric of Quebec’s lower Old City deserves praise. Here, what Côté calls an “architecture of permeability” that enables the museum to act as a social centre is achieved without resorting to a fully transparent perimeter.  Recently, the City and the provincial government announced a new project to transform the surface parking lot across Dalhousie Street into an above-ground parking garage and public square. It is worth pausing to look back to the museum’s initial design—which included a second phase containing public amenities—that connected to the main museum under Dalhousie Street. In this original scheme, the central cleavage in the museum continues toward the river, and its accessible terraces cascade down to stairs that descend into the water. These 35-year-old ideas are worth reconsidering, as they may provide clues to how we might continue to successfully articulate the public realm of the city, especially where its relationship to the river is concerned. Thomas-Bernard Kenniff holds a PhD in Architectural History and Theory from the Bartlett School of Architecture and a professional M.Arch from the University of Waterloo. He is currently Invited Professor at the UQAM School of Design.

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Canadian Architect September 2015