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16 EEEL Building The Energy . Environment . Experiential Learning Building houses a variety of scientific disciplines on the University of Calgary campus—the result of a joint effort between DIALOG Alberta and Perkins+Will Canada. TEXT Alexandra McIntosh

22 École Mer-et-Montagne McFarland Marceau Architects consider contemporary learning practices in their design of a French-language elementary school for the BC community of Campbell River. TEXT Courtney Healey

Maximum City

Derek Lepper

Tom Arban


11 News

 ospital for Sick Children opens new H research tower; call for presenters for 2014 RAIC | MAA Festival of Architecture.

29 Review

JJ Lee reviews the travelling exhibition Ron Thom and the Allied Arts, which recently wrapped at the West Vancouver Museum.

32 Insites Josh Nychuk

 arious urbanist education programs for V children provide valuable tools that empower them to shape communities in the future, by Nathan Storring.

37 Calendar

 akeCalgary International Symposium at m the University of Calgary; Sea Change— Architecture on the Crest at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.

38 Backpage

octoBER 2013, v.58 n.10

The National Review of Design and Practice/ The Journal of Record of Architecture Canada | RAIC

S ean Irwin recounts why Rick Haldenby’s legendary Forum Lecture in Rome has become a much anticipated event, one of many contributions he has made during his tenure as Director of the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture.

Energy . Environment . Experiential Learning Building at the University of Calgary by DIALOG Alberta and Perkins+ Will Canada. Photograph by Tom Arban. COVER

10/13 canadian architect


Mikkel Frost


­­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 Montreal David Theodore Winnipeg Lisa Landrum, MAA,AIA, MRAIC Regina Bernard Flaman, SAA Calgary David A. Down, AAA Vancouver Adele Weder Publisher Tom Arkell 416-510-6806 Associate Publisher Greg Paliouras 416-510-6808

In the Danish university city of Aarhus, the Grundfos Dormitory by CEBRA en­cases a 12-storey atrium with mirror-clad balconies, creating drama with an economy of means. Above

Last month, I had the opportunity to tour ­ Denmark’s two largest cities, Copenhagen and Aarhus. Organized by Danske Ark (the equivalent of Canada’s RAIC), the trip came at a timely moment, as Danish architects are enjoying an increasing presence in Canada. Bjarke Ingels’ firm B.I.G. is designing towers in Calgary and Vancouver, schmidt hammer lassen is con­struct­ ing a small library in Edmonton and a large one in Halifax, and other firms such as 3XN and ­ C.F. Møller are shortlisted or sub-consulting on major projects in Calgary and Toronto. In many sectors, from wind power to bacon, Denmark is known to be strong in international trade. Architecture is no exception. The term “Danish Design”—synonymous with Mid-­ Century Modern furniture and architects like Arne Jacobsen and Jørn Utzon—lingers as a ­ legacy for a new entrepreneurial generation of architects. Foreign projects account for 16% of Danish firms’ work. By comparison, in Canada, 2.7% of architectural revenues come from work completed abroad. Relative newcomer B.I.G. is widely known outside of Denmark, and for established practices including schmidt hammer lassen and 3XN, international work makes up over half of their current projects. While many of the Danish architects’ foreign projects are in Scandinavia, Asia and the Middle East, Canada is an attractive market because of its relatively low ratio of architects to the general population. About three architects serve every 10,000 Canadians, compared to the European average of eight per 10,000, and over 10 architects per 10,000 Danes. Valuable synergies emerge between Danish and Canadian design cultures. A common 6 canadian architect 10/13

stereo­t ype is the rule-abiding yet relaxed Dane, living in a socially progressive state—not dissimilar to the Canadian self-image. This plays out in designs that adhere to strict building codes while searching for economical means of expression in the margins around those regulations. In Aarhus, for instance, a stunning new student residence by local firm CEBRA derives its plan from the maximum gross floor space permitted to qualify for state-subsidized apartment rental rates. CEBRA turned the 50-square-­ metre per student area limit (including circu­ lation, common areas and wall envelope) into ­ an oppor­t unity to create a generous atrium, clad with mirrors that create kaleidoscopic views ­ between floors. Concrete was left rough in the hallways wrapping around the open space, freeing up budget for the extra building volume. In Copenhagen, a high school by 3XN pushes the envelope by reimagining classrooms as freestanding wooden pods topped with learning lounges. The school met standard cost guidelines since its pod design saved 25% of the square footage by removing corridors. A custom fire plan was developed with the city fire de­part­ ment—the kind of working-through regulations that may become more prevalent in Canada ­ with the implementation of the objective-based ­ National Building Code. The inventive and practical outlook of ­ Danish architects is a welcome and natural ­ contribution to Canadian design. As the first Danish-Canadian buildings are completed, it will be rewarding to observe how the values of both cultures are married and translated into architectural form. Elsa Lam

Circulation Manager Beata Olechnowicz 416-442-5600 ext. 3543 Customer Service Malkit Chana 416-442-5600 ext. 3539 Production Jessica Jubb Graphic Design Sue Williamson Vice President of Canadian Publishing Alex Papanou President of Business Information Group Bruce Creighton Head Office 80 Valleybrook Drive Toronto, ON M3B 2S9 Telephone 416-510-6845 Facsimile 416-510-5140 E-mail Website Canadian Architect is published monthly by BIG Magazines LP, a div. of Glacier BIG Holdings Company Ltd., a leading Cana­dian information company with interests in daily and community news­papers and business-tobusiness information services. 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 – #809751274RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (prepaid with student ID, includes taxes): $34.97 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 Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 80 Valleybrook Dr, 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 Mail Privacy Officer, Business Information Group, 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9 Member of the Canadian Business Press Member of the ALLIANCE FOR AuditED MEDIA Publications Mail Agreement #40069240 ISSN 1923-3353 (Online) ISSN 0008-2872 (Print)

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News Projects Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto opens new research tower.

The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning recently opened at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, bringing under one roof 2,000 researchers, trainees and staff previously dispersed throughout six buildings. At 778,000 square feet, the 21-storey laboratory designed by Diamond Schmitt Archi­tects is believed to be the largest child health research tower in the world and among the largest laboratories in highrise form. Situated on a dense urban site, the building will serve as a centre of excellence for SickKids to further its commitment to advancing pediatric research. Six thematic research neighbourhoods each have open two- and three-storey collaborative spaces connected by stairs. These working lounges have kitchenettes, white boards, soft furnishings and incomparable views of the city through glazing with high transparency. These innovative and dramatically arranged spaces provide gathering points where scientists, clinicians and students can share information and fuel innovation. The curvilinear form of the stacked bay windows differentiates these spaces as a defining feature of the façade, and the curvi­linear form continues inside to create a dynamic hub space. Working closely with the Hospital, the architects sought to demystify the role of medical research by bringing it to street level. Conference and education facilities populate a learning con­course on the ground floor through level three. Teleconferencing and distance learning technologies allow for information exchange around the world facilitated in a 250-seat auditorium. To further overcome the constraints of a tall-building silo culture, the 17 floors of labs are open and flexible for reconfiguration, where modular mobile benching converts from wet lab to dry lab as research demand requires. The Gilgan Centre takes a whole-building approach to sustainable design in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development with 75% waste diverted from landfills; water efficiency produces a 50% reduction in water use; energy-efficiency measures will bring a 38% reduction in energy use; materials selection with 22.5% recycled content for new construction materials; and improved indoor environmental quality from low VOC-emitting products. The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning is connected to the Hospital by a pedestrian bridge. It forms the eastern gateway to Toronto’s Discovery District of health care and biomedical research. Funding and support

ABOVE An interior view of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning—a new tower which substantially augments the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

for the $400-million project was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, three levels of government, and a $200-million fundraising campaign with a lead donation of $40 million from Peter Gilgan. Ryerson Univerity selects Perkins+Will to design Church Street Development.

President Sheldon Levy recently announced the selection of Perkins+Will as the architects for Ryerson University’s Church Street Development (CSD), which will house the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, the School of Nutrition, the School of Occupational & Public Health and the Mid­w ifery Education Program from the Faculty of Community Services, and a student residence. The Ontario and Vancouver practices of Perkins+Will are working together on the project, bringing their shared expertise and commitment to sustainable technology and innovative design. The ground floor of the CSD will enhance the street­scape and bring the energy and enthusiasm of thousands of Ryerson students to Church Street. The floors above will have classrooms, meeting rooms, state-of-the art clinical experience suites, and shared teaching labs, clinical skills labs and modular labs for research initiatives. Students will also have dedicated spaces for formal and informal study, course union office areas, clinical skills practice and lounge areas. To help address the need for more residence space and to optimize density on the site, the building plans include approximately 250 student residence spaces in

keeping with the university’s goal to provide an additional 2,000 new residence spaces by 2020. Ryerson is actively seeking a private-sector organization to partner with to develop the residence component of the project. The estimated cost of the academic portion of the project is $84 million, of which the Ontario government has provided a $56.4-million grant. Construction is expected to begin later in 2015 with the building completed by fall 2018. Chernoff Thompson Architects to revitalize Vancouver’s Sinclair Centre.

Chernoff Thompson Architects (CTA) is leading the revitalization of Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver. Sinclair Centre is the only federal complex awarded the City of Vancouver Heritage Award for restoration and adaptive reuse (1987) in Vancouver’s downtown core, and is comprised of four historic heritage buildings which were restored in 1986. Since then, the complex has housed upscale retail outlets, a food court, and various federal services offices. Along with a new mandate to create a hub for all major public services for the Government of Canada in this downtown complex, the project also aims to enliven the dated and currently underused public space, and hopes to reestablish Sinclair Centre as an inviting public attraction while increasing public awareness of its heritage and historic values. To this end, CTA and Public Works and Government Ser­v ices Canada are working alongside the Van­couver Historical Society to include a new interpretive 10/13­ canadian architect


alcove displaying informative, educational and engaging historical photographs and illustrations. The project complies with LEED Silver requirements in the commercial interior category, and the anticipated completion date is summer 2014. Construction cost is estimated at $9.5 million.

Awards Winners of the 2013 Toronto Urban Design Awards announced.

From an impressive 125 submissions to the 2013 Toronto Urban Design Awards, the jury selected 28 projects in total. In the Elements category, an Award of Excellence recognized Shangri-La/Momofuku in Toronto, and two Awards of Merit were given to the Pottery Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing and the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. In the Private Buildings in Context—Low-Scale category, two Awards of Excellence distinguished the Mjölk House and the Noble Street Studios, while three Awards of Merit were issued to 38 Lesmill, the Linea Bayview Townhomes, and the Native Child and Family Life Centre. In the Private Buildings in Context— Mid-Rise category, CUBE Lofts won the Award of Excellence while Art Condominiums received an Award of Merit. In the Public Buildings in Context category, five Awards of Excellence were given to 11 Division of the Toronto Police Service, the Mount Dennis Library Renovation, the Regent Park Aquatic Centre, the St. James Cathedral Centre, and the Victoria Park Bus Terminal Replacement, while five Awards of Merit recognized the Centre of Excellence for French-Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education, the George Brown College Waterfront Campus, Maple Leaf Gardens, the North Toronto Collegiate Institute Redevelopment, and the Ryerson Image Centre/School of Image Arts. One Award of Merit was given to the Dundas Street West Parkettes in the Small Open Spaces category. In the Large Places or Neighbourhood Designs category, the Evergreen Brick Works won an Award of Excellence and Sherbourne Common received an Award of Merit. In the Visions and Masters Plans category, an Award of Excellence distinguished John Street—Toronto’s Red Carpet, and the Green Line Vision captured an Award of Merit. Two student projects received Awards of Merit: An Architecture of Civility and In Search of Place. Finally, Market 707 received a Special Jury Award. The 2013 jury was comprised of Marianne McKenna, Founding Partner, KPMB Architects; Cecelia Paine, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Guelph; Jeremy Sturgess, Principal, Sturgess Architecture; Eric Turcotte, Partner, Urban Strategies Inc.; and Matthew Blackett, Publisher and Creative Director of Spacing magazine. 12th Tile of Spain Awards.

The primary requirement to participate in the 12th edition of this competition is that ceramic tiles made in Spain must be used in each sub­ mitted project. A prize fund of 39,000€ is divided into three categories. The two main categories are Architecture and Interior Design, and each will be awarded 17,000€. The third category is the Degree Project category, which is geared to architecture students, and the winner will be awarded 5,000€. This year, the jury is chaired by world-renowned German architect Matthias Sauerbruch, founding partner of Berlinand London-based firm Sauerbruch Hutton. The remainder of the jury is comprised of a select group of experts such as Portuguese architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça; Luca Molinari, curator and producer of exhibitions and cultural events related to contemporary architecture, design and photography; Spanish architect Manuel Gallego; designer Tomás Alonso, founding partner of the OKAY Studio design collective in London; and Ramón Monfort of the Architects’ Association of Valencia. 12 canadian architect 10/13

The submission deadline is October 29, 2013.

Competitions First three student teams selected for the 2014 Venice Biennale.

Student competitions for Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15 have yielded winners in three schools of architecture: Nunavut Health by the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Neil Aspinall and Geoff Cox); Nunavut Arts by Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Architecture and Planning (Caitlin Biggar, Anders Peacock and Fatima Rehman); and Nunavut Housing by the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto (Ana­ma­rija Korolj and Leon Lai). The Université de Montréal (Education) and University of Manitoba (Recreation) launch their competitions this fall, and the winners will be selected in November. Each winning student team will develop their projects in collaboration with a Nunavut organization and an architecture firm. The final results will be presented in the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale from June to November 2014.

RAIC Alberta Chapter launches first annual architectural photo competition.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Alberta Chapter has announced its first annual architectural photo competition aimed at revealing the hidden beauty of Alberta architecture and its role in sustaining Canada’s most westerly prairie province as a world-class travel destination. The subject image may be of any scale and may also include buildings, recog­ nizable details of buildings or structures, architecturally designed memorials, monuments, landscapes and bridges, architecturally designed industrial structures/systems, architecturally inspired cultural heritage/historic assets/artifacts, inspiring construction site(s) with noteworthy tourism points of interest. Winners of the photo competition will be announced in Edmonton during the spring of 2014 and a presentation gala is planned for the summer of 2014 where memorabilia, prize money and certificates will be awarded to winning entrants. The RAIC also plans to publish the jury-selected winning entries as a book of postcards and to curate a travelling exhi­bi­tion in various locations locally and internationally. The submission deadline is February 27, 2014.

What’s New Call for presenters for 2014 RAIC | MAA Festival of Architecture.

Architecture Canada | RAIC and the Manitoba Association of Architects invite proposals for the presentation of professional development sessions during the 2014 Festival of Architecture. Themed “The Next Century | Go Flat Out,” this celebration of architecture within the prairie landscape will be held May 28-31, 2014 in Winnipeg. Learning activities should clearly outline a minimum of four learning objectives that provide an advanced level of knowledge relevant to the practice or business of architecture focused on at least one of the following subject areas: Legal Issues and Legislation related to Architectural Practice and the Construction Industry; Building Technology; Planning and Design; Practice of Architecture and Business Management; Project Management (including Alternative Delivery Methods); Environment and Energy; Architectural Culture; and Sustainable Design/Green Architecture. Proposals must be received by October 31, 2013, and should be sent via e-mail to

10/13­ canadian architect




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Bedazzled Box A shiny addition to the University of Calgary provides a vibrant meeting place for students while achieving ambitious sustainability goals.

16 canadian architect 10/13

Opposite Natural daylight floods into the atrium, the social heart of the EEEL facility. The façades are clad in aluminum panels, modelled differently on each side of the facility to reflect ambient light onto the public plaza and to brighten the building’s surface. Project Energy . Environment . Experiential Learning, University of Calgary, Alberta Architects DIALOG ALBERTA WITH PERKINS+WILL CANADA Text Alexandra McIntosh Photos Tom Arban

“Oh, you mean the shiny one.” —Taxi driver to Peter Busby, en route from Calgary airport to EEEL 5

With its alliterative title and slippery acronym, the Energy . Environment . Experiential Learning (EEEL) building is as much a recognizable landmark for cabbies as it is for students. Situated on the northern perimeter of the University of Calgary campus, EEEL is a glossy reflective beacon, bouncing light and warmth off its surfaces. Die-cut raw aluminum panels clad the exterior, interspersed with diagonal jutting fins, horizontal sunshades and bright green vertical louvres that shift incrementally throughout the day. The sparkling exterior brings together diverse disciplines under one roof: students in the Energy and Environment program share work and study space with future biologists, chemists and geoscientists. The first three floors house undergraduate teaching labs and classrooms while the upper two floors are intended for graduate research. Opened in September 2011, EEEL attained LEED Platinum certification in April 2013. Among its notable sustainability features are geothermal earth tubes that precondition the air, grey water and stormwater reuse,

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triple-glazed windows and natural ventilation. Despite its size, daylight penetrates to most areas of the building through generous interior glazing and large perimeter openings, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The exterior aluminum panelling is angled down on the south façade to direct sunlight into a pedestrian square, while the panels on the north street-side façade are oriented upwards, bouncing light into the sky and making the building appear brighter. Beyond EEEL’s intelligent environmental features, the building’s suc-

18 canadian architect 10/13

cess has as much to do with social space and community building. At 24,531 square metres, EEEL is in essence a large rectangular box, but its interior is defined by what is not there—the negative space formed by generous interconnected open areas, wide hallways and a central atrium. The atrium’s principal defining feature, a grand staircase, climbs from the ground floor to the second and third floors in a series of terraces. This “social stair” is bathed in light from the clerestories above and surrounded by glass-walled laboratories and workspaces that run the length

Generous interior glazing allows for daylight to enter through the labs and corridors, opening views across floors. Classrooms and labs are equipped with flexible infrastructure that allows for future adaptation as technology evolves. Above, clockwise from top left Double-height multi-use spaces are tucked behind green solar shutters on the north and south façades; A fully glazed wall affords views into the ground-floor lecture hall; One of several informal study lounges overlooking the atrium. Opposite top

Opposite bottom

of the north and south walls. Openings at the east and west ends of the building allow light in and views out. Watch and Learn

Despite its flagrant misuse of punctuation, the Energy . Environment .  Experiential Learning building is designed to teach. Like several recent engineering buildings, EEEL showcases aspects of its own structure and functionality. Design architect Peter Busby of Perkins+Will Canada explains, “we wanted EEEL to be intelligible, to demonstrate a high degree of environmental performance. There is no mystery—you can see how the building responds to environmental stimulus.” Engineering students can observe the automated green louvres on the south façade pivot in response to sun movement. Junior geoscientists can examine a series of arches by the south entrance that is both decorative and didactic: the forms comprise natural stone layered in correct geological order, demonstrating the standard entrapment of oil and gas in sub-surfaces. Inside, plumbing to control in-slab radiant heating and cooling systems is revealed behind glass access doors. Mechanical systems at ceiling level are exposed and meticulously labelled. The visual effect of these narrow pipes in perfect parallel alignment running the length of hallways and around corners is one of a kinetic sculpture in stationary mode, or, if you turned the lights off, perhaps the set of Tron. In addition to explicit instructional elements, the learning process at EEEL is rendered visible. The back wall of the ground-floor lecture hall is

fully glazed, rendering the projection screen and teachers’ silent gesticulations visible to the public. Similarly, writing directly on the glass walls/ windows is encouraged in the labs, including those that line the northsouth hallways. Perhaps weary of a mildly Hollywood fantasy of scientific ideation (warning: genius at work) or simply bashful, students and faculty are only just beginning to incorporate the practice. Flexible Futures

Part of EEEL’s sustainability strategy is a clear attention to the way the building might change and adapt over time. “The basis of the spatial organization was a laboratory module that could be used on its own for smaller labs or ganged together to provide very large teaching or research labs,” explains project architect Jim Goodwin of DIALOG. The simplest of these modules are 60-square-metre classrooms, and even these include infrastructure to allow for future expansion or conversion to labs. Precored floor drains, access to compressed air, water and gases, and space for ceiling-mounted retractable projection screens are all in place. With an eye to the pace of change in research and technology as well as the cost of retrofitting science buildings, the project team planned for the future. Similarly, in keeping with the university’s long-term campus plan, EEEL will eventually be connected to other facilities by elevated walkways. The prevalence of +15 pedestrian connections—particular to Calgary’s downtown core and harsh prairie winters—is both practical and problematic. On campus, the sudden and formidable onslaught of foot traffic during 10/13­ canadian architect


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class changes creates congestion and noise, not to mention physical barriers to the lone salmon swimming upstream. To compensate, the +15s are planned at two corners, funnelling traffic diagonally up or down the social stair and leaving quiet zones at opposite ends of the building. Community Laboratory

The student experience within EEEL was essential to the design process. The program stipulated a variety of spaces for learning “on- and off-grid.” In addition to labs and classrooms are small lounge areas with soft seating for post-class discussion and coffee breaks, countertops with high stools for individual study, and enclosed spaces for group meetings. Working in these fishbowl-like rooms, students both command a view overlooking the central atrium, and are themselves put on vivid display. There is an articulated intention for EEEL to build a sense of community, both within the departments that share the building and across the university campus. Labs are labelled as “instructional spaces” rather than “engineering” or “biology” to smooth potential hierarchies between departments and to avoid drawing distinctions between undergraduate and graduate work. Classes from other faculties are invited to use the lecture halls, creating diversity in the student population. One of the significant features in facilitating community interaction is the monumental staircase. Flanked by regular steps, generous wood-clad 20 canadian architect 10/13

glazed panel perforated aluminum shutter shutter support frame spandrel panel fixed sunshade

platforms serve as tiered surfaces for sitting, with soft chairs and small tables placed at irregular intervals. According to Jonathon Greggs, Director of Campus Planning, the use of the social stair was immediate and intuitive. On an average weekday, students are settled in small clusters, poring over laptops, or simply climbing the stairs to the second and third floors. When asked about EEEL’s social capacities, or more specifically, its potential to create a sense of community, Busby speaks of peer learning opportunities and the deliberate mixing of faculties, “stirring it up to see what they can learn from each other.” Facilitating peer exchange was essential. “It’s difficult to get large groups of people together, and usually the solution is a lecture hall, which is quite formal,” he says. “Socialization among young people is often a condition of ‘me and my phone,’ so creating opportunities for them to bump into one another, to work together, becomes a priority.” As Greggs notes, “there has been a major focus in the last decade on interdisciplinarity and collaboration in postsecondary environments. But what does this actually look like when you build it? Ultimately, it has a lot to do with the facilitation process; you need inviting spaces with ser­v ices that bring people together.” Communal kitchens and workspaces scattered throughout the building encourage interaction among students and faculty. But the ground-floor entry space and social stair of EEEL reach beyond the building’s primary users and serve a larger community. EEEL was intended

Above left

On the building’s east and west sides, aluminum fins provide effective shading while minimizing interference with views. Bright green solar shutters on the south façade pivot to block excess sunlight.

Above right

to act as a major new interior public space on campus, and students from multiple disciplines make the trek for a cup of coffee or the chance to work and relax on the social stair. In addition, the building facilitates public transit use: the main lobby displays schedules and provides a comfortable waiting area for multiple bus routes that stop at the corner. In full acknowledgement of the circumstances of 21st-century higher education, spaces throughout EEEL are adaptable for fund-generating and public events. The jumbo projection screen above the social stair has shown everything from academic lectures to film screenings and hockey playoff games. Double-height spaces on the upper floors shift from hushed reading rooms to collaborative workspaces according to students’ dictates, and into evening venues for swishy cocktails and donor-courting. Importantly, however, the student-centric mandate is maintained and the prin­ cipal occupants of the building are never fully excluded from such events. Just as their learning activities are made visible through transparent walls, even during a fundraiser students can continue their path through the building, observing and circulating around the flower arrangements, votive candles and metres of tulle. Two years after its opening, EEEL has garnered several design awards and achieved its sustainability rating. The foliage has had a fighting chance to gain a foothold. Two years’ worth of foot traffic and an accumulation of dust bunnies in hard-to-clean places may also be evident, but so


10/13­ canadian architect


Elementary Revisions A handsome K-8 school in coastal British Columbia puts 21st-century learning principles into action.

McFarland Marceau Architects

Above Campbell River’s new French elementary school reuses the Douglas fir joists from an earlier school on the site and retains its gym­nasium. OPPOSITE, TOP right The spacious Student Commons culminates in a light-filled parent-and-tots lounge, with views to the entrance court and a playground. Below The backs of the classrooms open to a covered area, complete with benches and sitting nooks.

22 canadian architect 10/13

École Mer-et-montagne, Campbell River, British Columbia MCFARLAND MARCEAU ARCHITECTS Text Courtney Healey Photos Derek Lepper unless otherwise noted Project


4 5

South Alder Road

The 21st century is 13 years old, the centenary equivalent of a Grade 8 student ready to enter her experimental teenage phase. For schools, this means overhauling 100 years of deeply entrenched pedagogy and spatial typologies, embracing both digital technology and individual learning styles. In Campbell River, BC, McFarland Marceau Architects (MMA) has designed an elementary school for 100 K-8 students that navigates this sometimes-bumpy adolescence with grace and aplomb. The École Mer-et-montagne is one of several schools MMA has built for the Francophone Education Authority of British Columbia. Partners Marie-Odile Marceau and Larry McFarland are long-time contributors to the evolution of public school design, completing a combined 50 schools before joining forces in 2008 and another six since. When asked what has changed recently, Marceau and associate Craig Duffield are quick to respond with the phrase, “21st-century learning.” Core subjects are being augmented with new skills for today’s society and workplace. Practically, this means an increased emphasis on technology, collaborative learning, critical thinking, content creation and effective communication. This philosophy forms the core of BC’s current education plan, which describes a need for “greater flexibility in how, when and where learning takes place.” For Marceau, the architectural translation becomes about



8 1


3 5

Garnett Road


outline of demolished existing building



existing gymnasium area 0

Site Plan 0

1 2 3 4

existing gymnasium building new school addition new preschool addition wildflower meadow



5 6 7 8

existing cluster of mature trees bioswale open area for future residential development existing single-family residences

10/13­ canadian architect


24 canadian architect 10/13

McFarland Marceau Architects

McFarland Marceau Architects Opposite, clockwise from top left The main circulation corridor serves as a library, mediathèque, and student activity space; Project rooms pop out like aquariums into the Student Commons; A view of the foyer with rotating display cabinets that double as a security screen during community events after school hours. Above left The classroom patios incorporate ample room for children’s games. Above right A view of the sheltered outdoor area at the east end of the school during lunch recess.

“how space can enable different modalities of learning” and “how to accommodate groups of 2 or 6 as well as [the more traditional classroom sizes of] 25 or 100.” In a 21st-century learning environment, students rarely sit at individual desks, and instead spend most of their school day in small groups that move independently to various stations with the teacher as guide or facilitator. The new school responds to this demand for flexibility in three main ways. Kinetic elements like cubbies on casters, moveable walls between classrooms for team teaching, and pivoting display cases that double as security gates combine functionality with a touch of fun. In a subtler manner, nooks, niches and alcoves are thoughtfully incorporated into most spatial transitions, providing spaces for individual students or small groups to read, conduct research or create. This small-scale articulation is echoed within the overall building scheme, where long volumes stagger and step in both plan and section, creating natural points of entry, gathering spaces and places to introduce daylight. Duffield explains that in typical school designs, architects can become easily overwhelmed by the repetition of large-scale program blocks. He and Marceau saw this project as a unique opportunity to explore more intimate moments of the school day. A modest budget only provided for a half-size gym, so MMA decided to renovate the gym from the existing 1960s school on the property, slated for demolition. This resolved some early site-planning decisions. The gym forms the largest and most prominent figure on the site. The design team smartly retained a stand of tall trees between it and the main road to mitigate its scale. Punched windows and vines training along cables in front of the façade further minimize the volume, directing attention to

12 18

Section 1 2 3 4








5 rotating shelves 6 student commons 7 independent study alcove

8 classroom 9 reading alcove 10 outdoor play area


11 4



7 2 6

5 1

16 13

17 7 18 16

16 6



9 10



existing gymnasium existing stage entry hall foyer









1 main entry 2 foyer 3 rotating shelves 4 student commons 5 reception 6 kitchen 7 meeting room 8 special education 9 classroom 10 kindergarten 11 group project room 12 reading alcove 13 existing stage 14 existing gymnasium 15 preschool 16 storage 17 recycling sorting area 18 mechanical

existing building area


Ground Floor 0



10/13­ canadian architect


Above Classroom amenities include a reading nook at back left, moveable partitions at the front and right side, and a learning resource wall with a projection screen and Smartboard at left.

the main entrance with its large windows displaying the colourful ephemera of primary school life. The entry hall comprises the first of four linear volumes that march toward the northern edge of the site, effectively bisecting it in two, with playing fields to the west and informal play spaces to the east. The broad strokes of the plan are simple and efficient—essentially two long corridors with program spaces accessed from either side. These corridors are École Mer-et-montagne’s great successes. The entry hall and foyer, by virtue of their prominent glazed kitchen, are regularly reinvented with various culinary and community activities—today, tables full of kinder­garteners explore pattern-making with fruit kebabs, and upper grades prepare a schoolwide three-course meal. From here, one passes between pivoting display cases into the student commons, which doubles as a library. This is where the school comes most fully alive. The 40-metre-long space is glazed on all sides and extends beyond the building at either extremity. At present, the sunny east end is used as a greenhouse and lounge for parents with smaller children. Permanent project rooms, called “aquariums” by students, protrude into the library while rolling cubbies cordon off areas for temporary activities. One of the tenets of 21st-century learning is transparency, and glazed walls between the library and classrooms offer both passive surveillance and cross-pollination of ideas. Inside the classrooms, similar spatial strategies continue with reading nooks in the corners, a sink alcove near the doors, and access to covered outdoor spaces. The design also embraces another 21st-century hallmark—sustain­ ability. The school achieved a LEED Gold rating in part by incorporating geo­thermal in-slab radiant heat and a rainwater collection system. The most visible strategy, however, is also the most poetic: a windfall of Douglas fir joists was recovered from the demolished 1960s school. MMA made extensive use of the reclaimed wood throughout—it comprises the majority of the new structure as well as the main entry doors, fixed benches and library shelving. Current principal Syndie Hébert remarks that it feels nice to be surrounded by the ghosts of the old school. “Every visitor is amazed by the story of the wood,” she says. While the preschool component of the school was completed last year, the core of École Mer-et-montagne is now two years old and the staff has 26 canadian architect 10/13

really made the school their own. MMA’s intentions are lived out and expanded on in unexpected ways that are largely positive—but occasionally puzzling. This year, the outdoor play space just north of the classrooms will welcome its third double-wide trailer. With enrollment at just over 90, the school is not overcapacity, so portables are hard to explain. Many possible explanations present themselves, most involving provincial funding models. But for this writer, the portables might also signal a gap that exists between the intention of policy creators and day-to-day implementation in the classroom. Dragging portables onto the school grounds might be easier than dragging centuries-old education methods into the new millennium. As a primary school and as an experiment in 21st-century learning, MMA’s École Mer-et-montagne is a clear success. While Hébert stresses that the common spaces are well-loved and used, she and her staff sometimes lament the fact that they cannot be easily converted into classrooms. Marceau responds that in hindsight, “perhaps we could have made the building even more flexible to allow for that.” I disagree: we have too many examples of schools without libraries or music rooms because they have been converted to classrooms. By stitching the common program areas so securely to circulation, MMA prevents those spaces from being turned into traditional classrooms—and that is precisely the point. École Mer-et-montagne’s design is in keeping with the tenets of 21st-century learning which suggest moving beyond merely changing the labels of rooms, to introduce new collaborative spaces for learners of all ages. CA Courtney Healey is the Director of Lodge Think Tank and an intern architect at Public Architecture + Communication. Client CONSEIL SCOLARIE FRANCOPHONE DE LA COLOMBIE BRITANNIQUE Architect Team MARIE-ODILE MARCEAU, CRAIG DUFFIELD, DEAN SHWEDYK, Pauline Alam Structural EQUILIBRIUM CONSULTING Mechanical BYCAR Engineering Electrical MMM GROUP Landscape OUTLOOK DESIGN Interiors MCFARLAND MARCEAU ARCHITECTS Contractor NEWHAVEN CONSTRUCTION Area 1,600 M2 Budget $5,950,000 Completion March 2012

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Ron Thom and the Allied Arts

Ron Thom and the Allied Arts follows the architect’s career from jewel-box houses to master commissions for Massey College and Trent University.


JJ Lee Josh Nychuk unless otherwise noted


The exhibition Ron Thom and the Allied Arts presents the architect’s broad range of artistic activity—from music and painting to decorative arts and, of course, architecture—as reflecting a distinct yet ineffable postwar West Coast sensibility. As a young man in the late 1940s, Thom abandoned a career as a painter and apprenticed as an architect in Vancouver. Though he changed professions, he didn’t change milieus. The city’s cultural scene accepted influences from both Europe and Asia. It contended with the wilderness and topography. It was free to ignore the goings-on of the major centres along the eastern seaboard. And from it arose Thom’s synthetic aesthetic in which Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Japanese ceramics could come together in a single architectural project. At least, that is the case the show’s curator Adele Weder makes. Her fine selection of drawings and artifacts illuminate Thom as a sensitive, hands-on creator who is a transcendently modern, cross-disciplinary figure. Yet one can’t help walking away without thinking of the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and Thom’s rivalry with Arthur Erickson. Though they never met, Wright’s shadow fell across Thom’s career. Born

An installation view shows diamond grids from Ron Thom’s West Coast houses and the dining hall ceiling at Trent University.


in British Columbia in 1923, Thom came to the profession when Wright had found his place in the firmament as a larger-than-life starchitect. Wright was outlandish, arrogant and sometimes callous. His life was struck by misfortunes such as bankruptcy, family mental illness, arson and murder. It was also, for all the unseemly melodrama, filled with brilliant triumphs and comebacks. Thom’s life was nearly as dramatic. He mastered piano, then painting, then architecture. He drank too much, “did not suffer fools” (according to colleague, friend and biographer Douglas Shadbolt), and, in the infamous aftermath of losing control of the firm he started, was found dead in his Toronto office in 1986. Then, five years after his passing, he was accused of what amounts to architectural plagiarism by none other than Arthur Erickson. Putting the vagaries of biography aside, Thom’s real link to Wright is one between master and mentor. Consider the front door of Thom’s 1957 Carmichael House, which is included in the compact display at the West Vancouver Museum (the exhibition will expand when it travels in 2014 to the Gardiner Museum in Toronto and to Trent University in Peter­ borough). The wooden door sports battens and panels designed around a diamond and hexagonal grid, the same geometry used to generate the 10/13­ canadian architect


Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary

Massey College Library, University of Toronto

John Flanders

Selwyn Pullan

A presentation image from the Massey College round one competition; A preliminary sketch for Massey College; ceramic beads created by Thom’s first wife Chris were used in room dividers for clients; The living room of the 1951 Copp House; The intricately detailed front entrance of the 1957 Carmichael House. clockwise from TOP left

30 canadian architect 10/13

ABOVE, left to right House plans are on display with Ron Thom’s bench for the Case House and the 1947 painting entitled Seated Figure behind; The Copp house club chair and side table, designed by Thom with Joseph Plis.

Carmichael floorplan. Wright used similar grids in the 1937 HannaHoneycomb House and a number of his Usonian residences. Thom’s emulation of Wright did not end there. He absorbed a whole palette of techniques including structure-defining roofs, pinwheeling room layouts and built-in furniture. Then there is Thom’s masterpiece commission for Massey College at the University of Toronto, completed in 1963. The project—well represented by artifacts, photographs and drawings—provided an opportunity to fulfill another Wrightian goal: to create a gesamtkunstwerk. Weder describes, in the accompanying catalogue, the competition as a search for “a total work of art into which the architect would design, commission or otherwise oversee each component of the building from the outside in, from the gardens to the ashtrays.” For his first-round entry, Thom turned to Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo for inspiration. Both have bedroom wings defining courtyards with water features. Both make use of Beaux-Arts axial planning. However, in the second round, Thom freed the plan of the common rooms in the main building from rigid symmetry and skewed the residential wings. According to Shadbolt, Erickson alleged that Thom lifted those fundamental changes from Erickson’s own first-round Massey submission. Indeed, Thom may have used Erickson’s ideas as a beacon to navigate himself away from Wright’s influence. But Thom never shook off Wright nor comparisons to Erickson, who won the competition to design Simon Fraser University the same year Massey College opened. From then on, Erickson’s career overshadowed Thom’s. Which brings us to the crux of Ron Thom’s legacy and this exhibition. How did he transcend his influences? What of Thom is sui generis? In the built design for Massey College, Thom slips and interlocks volumes. He subtly scales and delineates main spaces from subsidiary ones without disrupting flow. And, as catalogue contributor Tony Robins notes, Thom incorporates in his projects “surreally large-scale fireplaces, probably inspired straight from Wright. But unlike his mentor, Thom contrasted the massive hearth with a generally ethereal lightness through­out the rest of the building.” In other words, Thom did not have a heavy hand. He could give weight in a project when needed and then release it with clerestory windows and cascading daylight. Whereas no architectural strategy can be said to be

the sole property of Wright, Erickson, or even a particular West Coast school, Thom’s touch came from the body. Architect Ned Pratt put it best when he compared Erickson and Thom this way: “neck up, neck down.” Thom designed with a sense of closeness to the body and the landscape, and his architecture was often described as intimate. Real intimacy, however, can only develop over time. And while many works of architecture fail to improve with long occupation and use, not so with Thom’s oeuvre. The Carmichael, Case, Copp, Dodek and Forrest Houses—which are featured in the West Vancouver edition of the exhibition—still stand, weathered by time and well-loved by their occupants. Massey College has become the centre of an academic and cultural community and continues to age beautifully. To make the point, Weder adds a surprise treat. In a back corner of the exhibition, there is a leather armchair and a matching ottoman from the Copp House by Thom and Joseph Plis. Visitors are welcome to sit in it. Beside the chair is a table with a small, one-off book reproducing Thom’s rough sketches—some near doodles—of Massey College. Through them, Thom searches for form and proportion in a questing hand. He seeks to bring together the Master’s residence, the common room and the courtyard. He works out how to have the lower common-room spaces communicate with the upper dining hall. Weder discovered these sketches buried in a box at the Canadian Architectural Archives, accompanied by a letter from the Massey Foundation inviting Thom to participate in the competition for the College. In that letter, Thom circled over and over again, with a line weight that shifts from fortissimo to pianissimo, four words: dignity, grace, beauty and warmth. Against the megawattage of Wright and Erickson, Thom held up a candle of his own delicate line and sensitive touch. CA JJ Lee is a memoirist, fashion writer, and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of British Columbia. His debut book, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, is published by McClelland and Stewart. Ron Thom and the Allied Arts travels to the Gardiner Museum in Toronto from February 4–May 7, 2014, and Trent University Alumni House from August 7–October 22, 2014. The exhibition catalogue is available by contacting 10/13­ canadian architect



No. 9

No. 9

Street Smarts

A new wave of architecture and urban education programs gives school kids the tools to build tomorrow’s cities.


Nathan Storring

No. 9

No. 9

Over the past five years, Toronto has seen a boom in youth education programs focusing on architecture, planning and urbanism. Thanks to a handful of urban practitioners and educators, numerous initiatives have sprung up that teach young people creative problem-solving skills through the city around them. “When I first moved to the city in 2006, I remember feeling like an anomaly as I attempted to speak to the importance of design in educa-

tion,” says Zahra Ebrahim, principal and founder at design consultancy archiTEXT. Now, she observes, a handful of educators “have built on the momentum of critical conversations happening around the future of Toronto to implement these programs.” As urban debates infiltrate the mainstream, Ebrahim has addressed a growing hunger among youth (and their parents) for tools to deal with the challenges they see in the media and in their daily lives. Most impressive is archiTEXT’s partnership with the East Scarborough Storefront on Community. Design. Initiative, a project that entrusts young locals with the renovation and expansion of the social-service delivery hub’s building. Since the initial design charrette in late 2009, over 50 participants from ages 9 to 21 have worked with urbanists and

32 canadian architect 10/13

Grade 7 students in the Imagining My Sustainable City program test a tower; a Dr. Marion Hillard Senior Public School student builds a model; Students adjust their final models resulting from the week-long module; A participant shows off her design. RIGHT, TOP TO BOTTOM Maximum City participants map out their surroundings; Two high-school students demonstrate street scale; The workshop culminates in designing a city block. Opposite, clockwise from top left

Maximum City

Maximum City

Maximum City

architects to design and implement their ideas for the site. As Ebrahim puts it, “they learn, they test, they learn, they test, they ask questions, they learn, they test.” Key to the process is getting to see their ideas in action: the renovation is complete and landscaping is in process, with strategic additions to follow. Andrew Davies, Executive Director at No. 9 Contemporary Art & the Environment, highlights the role of urban designers, architects and educators in the rise of urbanist education programs—particularly those that introduce sustainable design to youth. “There is an interest from professionals in the building industry, educators and NGOs like No. 9 to provide information to the next generation as to how things are made, so that they can participate in defining what their future city will look like.” For Davies, helping youth understand the ecology of cities is crucial to improving our society’s relationship with the environment for future generations. Since 2011, No. 9 has collaborated with the Toronto District School Board to deliver a four-day program called Imagining My Sustainable City to hundreds of Grade 7 students—480 students in 16 schools over the last school year alone. The program places two architectural educators in the classroom to assist teachers in exploring sustainable design concepts with their students. Student groups produce scale models that integrate ecological practices into real sites in the school’s neighbourhood. Every cohort gets to show off its projects at a public exhibition in Metro Hall’s rotunda. By the end of the 2013/14 school year, No. 9 will accomplish its goal of delivering the program to one class in each of Toronto’s 44 wards. Josh Fullan, a teacher at the highly competitive University of Toronto Schools (UTS) and founder of the Maximum City program, points to a gap in Canada’s current education system. While the country’s population has become increasingly urban, most schools have failed to incorporate the manifold challenges and opportunities of city life into the classroom experience. Maximum City attempts to address this gap by giving high-school students a crash course in urban design, planning and governance. Taught as part of the Civics and Geography curriculum at UTS, the program brings professionals into the classroom to collaborate with teachers, much like Imagining My Sustainable City. However, instead of a four-day engagement with one set of designers, Maximum City aims for a broader overview of the complexities of city issues. Every day over a two-week period, a different designer, planner, urbanist or activist helps students understand topics from transportation to architecture to protest. A final design challenge requires students to apply this holistic rundown of urban ideas by reimagining a full city block. While the program offers students tools to understand the city, Fullan emphasizes how it also empowers them to “feel like they can create change and be influencers in their urban environment.” Some past par­­ ticipants have gone on to be youth consultants for planning projects. Fullan recalls one student in particular who “wrote a letter to the CEO of a major city organization asking for youth representation on a regional transportation council that was filled with CEOs, presidents of banks and 10/13­ canadian architect



ArchiTEXT Above left

Youth and professionals exchange ideas during a charrette as part of the program called Community . Design . Initiative. A model integrating sustainable energy sources into the future East Scarborough Storefront building.

Above right

community leaders—but no one under the age of 30.” The 15-year-old student now sits on that council, and leads a youth campaign to raise awareness about transit issues in Southern Ontario. The greatest challenge facing these ambitious educators is access. While hundreds of participants have had their civic and urban problemsolving muscles exercised, the reach of these programs has been variously limited by socio-economic factors, the necessity of a small ratio of students to educators to facilitate deep engagement, a reliance on profes-

sional collaborators, and a general resistance to change within the education system. Whether or not these innovative programs can (or should) overcome these limitations to be implemented on a larger scale remains unclear. In the meantime, our cities—and the demand for tools to understand and skillfully manage them—keep growing. CA Nathan Storring is an independent writer, curator and urbanist currently pursuing an MA in Public Humanities at Brown University.


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Calendar Lola Sheppard lecture

October 7, 2013 Lola Sheppard of Toronto-based Lateral Office— Canada’s representative at the 2014 Venice Biennale in Architecture— delivers a lecture at 6:30pm at Vancouver’s Robson Square. Heritage Toronto Awards

October 15, 2013 This event at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto celebrates outstanding contributions to the promotion and conservation of the city’s heritage. Playhouse: The Architecture of Daniel Evan White

October 17, 2013-March 30, 2014 This retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver documents the work of a West Coast architect working in the Late Modern period. makeCalgary International Symposium

October 18, 2013 The University of

Calgary is hosting a symposium on urban resilience, disaster recovery and flood design.

first partnership between the Archi­tectural Institute of British Columbia and the American Institute of Architecture—Northwest & Pacific Region.

Design Week 2013

October 21-25, 2013 This five-day event in Saskatoon is an opportunity to learn about design through a series of free lectures, tours, open houses and symposiums. Cover & Spread

October 22-November 14, 2013 This exhibition at Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science provides a contemporary look at the Canadian Architect magazine image collection and investigates the role and meaning of modernity in postwar Canada.

Adaptive Architecture 2013

October 24-26, 2013 Held at the Water­loo School of Architecture, this conference will focus on the computational design of environmentally responsive, interactive and reconfigurable architecture.

Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. Brutal Fragility

October 28, 2013 Architect and artist Didier Faustino of Mésarchitecture in Paris delivers a lecture at 6:00pm at McGill University. Arrival City: The Suburbs as Global City Landing Spot

October 28, 2013 This public forum for Torontonians at City Hall’s Council Chambers addresses key city-building challenges.

Art Toronto

October 25-28, 2013 Taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this annual fall event serves as the galvanizing vehicle for the nation’s art world and presents more than 100 select galleries.

Sea Change: Architecture on the Crest

Belinda Tato lecture

October 23-26, 2013 Taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West, this conference marks the

October 28, 2013 Belinda Tato of Madrid-based architects eco­sis­tema urbano lectures at the University of

Steve Badanes lecture

November 7, 2013 University of Washington architecture professor Steve Badanes lectures at 6:00pm at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. For more information about these, and additional listings of Canadian and international events, please visit

10/13­ canadian architect



Legacy Lecture

A student recalls a touchstone lecture by Rick Haldenby, who this year observes his silver jubilee as Director of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Text

Sean Irwin Jonathan Tyrrell


Every year since 1979, University of Waterloo School of Architecture director Rick Haldenby has personally introduced the Italy-stationed fourth-year class to Rome with the marathon Forum Lecture. What made the Forum Lecture so significant in the life of the school? There is no building in the Republican Forum as beautiful as the Pantheon, and the architectural achievements of Hadrian’s Villa make the Forum seem conventional and repetitious. And yet it is the Forum Lecture that is most central to Waterloo Architecture’s understanding of itself. The on-site lecture starts with a verbal history of Rome from the geological processes that formed the seven hills to the ham-fisted insertion of the Via dei Fori Imperiali by Mussolini, covering thousands of years in one morning. Once Haldenby starts talking he doesn’t stop until he’s finished. No breaks for water and no hesitations; it just pours out of him. The afternoon is a slow tour beginning at the Basilica Julia and ending at the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. Haldenby knows the name, history and significance of every podium, column and pediment in the Forum. 38 canadian architect 10/13

ABOVE The marble arch of Septimius Severus, erected in 203 AD, stands near the foot of the Capitoline Hill in the Roman Forum.

Standing in front of the Curia, he told us what we would see if the paving stones weren’t there. That they were there seemed to annoy him. There isn’t a lot left intact in the Forum: the arch of Septimius Severus, three columns from the Castor and Pollux Temple, the portico of the Temple of Saturn (minus the pediment), the column of Phocus, parts of Antoninus and Faustina, and a reconstruction of the Curia. That’s about it. Haldenby has to conjure most of the monuments from the ground up, taking whatever is there—a portion of an inscription lying in the grass, a low brick wall with some of the marble facing intact, a row of partial columns— and recreate the scene as it was 2,000 years ago. It is hard to write about what architects do. Much of the process is obscure, even to designers. Arthur Erickson acknowledged the essential mystery of creation in a speech at McGill University. “The artist,” he said, “likes to seem totally responsible for his work. Often he begins to explain it, to make it appear as if it were a reasonable process.” This much can be said: architecture begins with an inclination (if you believe Lucretius) or passion (if you prefer Ovid) that allows a person to transcend the fact­ ness of what is and imagine what isn’t. Whether it isn’t yet or isn’t still makes little difference. In this light, Haldenby’s Forum Lecture was the

single greatest display of architectural imagination I have ever witnessed. It was also one of the most tremendous displays of endurance. September in Rome is hot. Just listening to the Forum Lecture is exhausting; I can’t imagine what delivering it requires. And there is another lecture the next day. And the day after that. Maybe that’s why the Forum Lecture has earned a place of honour in Waterloo Architecture’s foundation myth—it is the most visible manifestation of Haldenby’s passion for his subject and dedication to his students. I chose to write my thesis on the Tabularium because of a throwaway line, which I remember verbatim: “That’s the so-called Tabularium. I say ‘so-called’ because it wasn’t a Tabularium but no one knows what it was actually for.” I spent two years researching one building so that I might insert myself into the Forum Lecture, even as a footnote. CA Sean Irwin is a designer and writer based in Toronto. This essay is excerpted and adapted from In Memory of Foundation, a compilation celebrating Rick Hal­ den­by’s 25 years as Director of the University of Water­loo School of Architecture, forthcoming from Riverside Architectural Press. A celebration will be held in Cambridge on November 30, 2013 to mark his contributions.

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Canadian Architect October 2013  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...