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Fallingwater®, Kaufmann Residence, Mill Run, Pa., c. 1936 Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Conservator: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Restoring an iconic landmark’s beauty while honoring Wright’s dedication to blending architecture with nature. Imagine the Kaufmann family’s surprise when, instead of boasting a view of the waterfall, Frank Lloyd Wright suggested building their home on top of it! To restore the historic landmark’s beauty, PPG’s color-matching technology rose to the occasion, recreating Wright’s original aesthetic vision. To protect and beautify the outside, conservationists used PERMA-CRETE™ Alkali-resistant Primer coating and MANOR HALL® TIMELESS® paint for the topcoat. Inside, they applied PURE PERFORMANCE® zero-VOC* base paint. They chose DURANAR® coatings for the window frames to deliver unparalleled performance against the elements. And, they replaced 319 windows using STARPHIRE® ultra-clear glass and SUNGATE® low-emissivity glass. Visit ppginnovation.com/risingabove to contact a PPG IDEASCAPES™ specialist for your next project.
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INstItutIONal INtERIORs 13 NEws
DIAlOg completes new Edmon-
ton International Airport Office and control Tower; call for submissions to the 2016 Venice Biennale in Architecture.
leslie Jen explores the ways in which Entro communications continues to play an integral role in architectural projects worldwide through the provision of striking building graphics and the implementation of effective wayfinding and branding strategies.
18 BIBlIOthèquE MONIquE-CORRIVEau A Modernist church from the 1960s is respectfully transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu Architectes and côté leahy cardas Architectes. tEXt Thomas-Bernard Kenniff
24 YORk hOusE sChOOl A sophisticated new addition to a private-school campus in Vancouver by Acton Ostry Architects supports progressive and empowered education for girls. tEXt Hadani Ditmars
29 tORONtO BIRth CENtRE
A long-awaited facility in Toronto’s Regent Park offers safe refuge for all populations to experience midwife-assisted births. tEXt Joanne lam
Rick linley discusses the differentiation of architectural practices to establish core strengths and clear identity.
This month’s roundup of recent canadian publications focuses on landscape, libraries, and historic national architecture bridging the 19th and 20th centuries.
conceptualizing the Technical at the AIBc gallery; winnipeg Art gallery Home Tour.
Brian carter describes Steven Holl’s addition to the fire-damaged glasgow School of Art as a beautiful and intentional contrast to the existing 1896 structure.
COVER Interior of the York House School in Vancouver by Acton Ostry Architects. Photograph by Michael Elkan.
v.59 n.09 THE NATIONAl REVIEw Of DESIgN AND PRAcTIcE/THE JOuRNAl Of REcORD Of ARcHITEcTuRE cANADA | RAIc
Editor Elsa lam, mRaIC AssociAtE Editor lEslIE JEn, mRaIC EditoriAl Advisor Ian ChodIkoff, oaa, fRaIC PEtER a. sEllaR
canadian architect 09/14
contributing Editors annmaRIE adams, mRaIC douglas maClEod, nCaRb, mRaIC
aBoVe The CAMH Village Family Health Team clinic, by Toronto-based firm ARK, exemplifies new design paradigms by bringing transparency and a gallery-like feel to a mental-health facility.
Health-care spending consumes over 10% of Canada’s GDP. In 20 years, one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65—more than the current population of Quebec and Alberta combined. One in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. These figures were top of mind at the Design & Health World Congress in Toronto this summer. In addition to the expected talk of hospital and health-care facility design, biggerpicture topics were on the table: how to build age-friendly communities, what evidence supports walkability, and how design might aid in the mental and physical health of people of all ages and backgrounds. Attendees came from around the globe, and much of the presented research was homegrown in Canada. The designed environment can be the best of medicines—or the worst of poisons. One study by epidemiologist Gillian Booth dug into Toronto’s public health records from 2001-2009, and found that postal codes affect health more than genetic codes. After correcting for factors like income and education, she concluded that those living in the most car-centric areas of the city had higher rates of both obesity and diabetes. People that lived in more walkable neighbourhoods had a 15% reduced risk for diabetes. “We need to connect the dots between health and transport,” she advises, noting that investments in active transportation infrastructure could reduce occurrences of costly, debilitating chronic disease. West Coast researcher Heather McKay pointed out how bikeways and sidewalks serve not only the young and robust, but also the elderly. In her pre- and post-construction evaluations of the Comox Greenway in Victoria, BC, she was surprised to discover a highly active population of older adults eager to stay active. “I grew up on a bike,” declared one interviewee. Only safety concerns deterred seniors from keeping active—and those could be easily addressed with such design interventions as properly graded sidewalks, frequent benches for resting, and adequate street lighting. As Dr. Samir Sinha, the newly appointed expert lead of Ontario’s Seniors Care Strategy points out, older adults typically give up driving
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
in the last 10 years of their lives. He asks: “Does Account MAnAgEr faRIa ahmEd 416-510-6808 transit serve older riders?” It’s an especially circulAtion MAnAgEr pressing question in the suburbs, which continue bEata olEChnoWICz 416-442-5600 ext. 3543 to dominate residential development across custoMEr sErvicE malkIt Chana 416-442-5600 ext. 3539 North America. Glenn Miller, Vice President production of the Canadian Urban Institute, believes that JEssICa Jubb grAphic dEsign finding ways to retrofit Canada’s suburbs to suE WIllIamson allow ageing in place will be a crucial challenge vicE prEsidEnt of cAnAdiAn publishing alEx PaPanou for developers and designers alike. One key will prEsidEnt of businEss inforMAtion group be integrating apartments and mid-rises with asbRuCE CREIghton sisted-living options into the suburbs. “Design hEAd officE 80 vallEybRook dRIvE, for the young and you exclude the old; design for toRonto, on m3b 2s9 the old and you include everyone,” says Miller. telepHone 416-510-6845 faCsiMile 416-510-5140 The discussion also addressed design for e-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.canadianarchitect.com those with mental illness. In Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Canadian architect is published monthly by bIg magazines lP, a div. of glacier bIg holdings Company ltd., a leading Canadian information is leading the way in championing health equity company with interests in daily and community newspapers and businessto-business information services. for those with mental illness and addictions. the editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and Their newly redeveloped campus, along Queen authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose. Street West, breaks open a formerly walled asysubscription Rates Canada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (hst – #809751274Rt0001). lum and continues the street grid, physically Price per single copy: $6.95. students (prepaid with student Id, includes weaving treatment facilities into the urban fabric. 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. Toronto-based firm ARK described a recent Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, CAMH clinic they designed—located not ON Canada M3B 2S9. in a neglected corner of the city, but in bustPostmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Printed in Canada. All rights ling Liberty Village. From the street, the facilreserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in part or in full without the consent of the copyright owner. ity looks like a light-filled art gallery. ThroughFrom time to time we make our subscription list available to select out, translucent screens create visibility while companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made protecting the privacy of consumers. Designing available, please contact us via one of the following methods: for mental-health facilities, explains ARK’s telephone 1-800-668-2374 facsimile 416-442-2191 Guela Solow-Ruda, involves following “good e-mail email@example.com design” principles—but also addressing specialMail Privacy officer, business Information group, 80 valleybrook dr, toronto, on Canada m3b 2s9 ized needs such as infection control, real and MeMbeR of tHe Canadian business pRess perceived safety, and the need to avoid crowdMeMbeR of tHe allianCe foR audited Media publiCations Mail agReeMent #40069240 ing and other stress triggers. issn 1923-3353 (online) issn 0008-2872 (pRint) By and large, an optimistic attitude prevailed as attendees discussed the ability of design Member of to promote good health. Pediatrician and public health researcher Richard Jackson says that over the past century, medical advancements have added five years to the average lifespan—while public health and environmental changes, such as reductions in industrial pollution, have added 25 years. Armed with an increasingly robust body of knowledge, designers and policy-makers WE aCknoWlEdgE thE fInanCIal suPPoRt of thE govERnmEnt of Canada thRough thE Canada PERIodICal working together may yet continue to improve fund (CPf) foR ouR PublIshIng aCtIvItIEs. the healthfulness of our living environments. Inc.
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The Combined Office/Control Tower project was an integral part of the Edmonton International Airport’s expansion 2012 program, responding to increasing ridership and the pressure it had placed on the existing infrastructure and buildings. As Canada’s fastestgrowing major airport, DIALOG’s expansion ensures that the airport keeps pace with the Alberta Capital Region’s economic development. The design vision for the project is to create a memorable first and last impression for Edmonton; one that expresses its sense of place and its people. In addition, the design is intended to respond to the growing operational needs of the airport as well as offer enhanced benefits to travellers and airport tenants. There is an emphasis on producing an environment that is easy to navigate for passenger comfort, environmentally responsible, economically viable, and responsive to all aviation, passenger and airport staff requirements. Specifically, the design seeks to better connect and engage passengers with views to airside operations, to minimize the impact of increasing ridership on terminal operations, and to provide a healthy indoor environment for travellers and staff through a response that is sustainable. The combined tower houses a new cutting-edge NAV Canada air traffic control tower, an expanded retail precinct, and provides new administrative offices. Additional functional objectives include the provision of improved airside ground operations, the creation of a central baggage area, and the development of a key nodal area to improve passenger and baggage flow. The project is targeting LEED ® Silver designation.
DIALoG completes new edmonton International Airport office and control tower.
The new edmonton International Airport Office and Control Tower is a distinct departure from conventional airport design with its organic curvilinear form and striking zinc cladding.
origins, Muslim civilizations have been characterized by a remarkable diversity of geographies, languages and cultures. “One of the lessons we have learned in recent years is that the world of Islam and the Western world need to work together much more effectively at building mutual understanding—especially as these cultures interact and intermingle more actively,” commented His Highness the Aga Khan. “We hope that this museum will contribute to a better understanding of the peoples of Islam in all of their religious, ethnic, linguistic and social diversity.” www.agakhanmuseum.org
Aga Khan Museum opens this month.
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage, will open its doors to the public on September 18, 2014. The Museum’s permanent collection of over 1,000 objects includes masterpieces that ref lect a broad range of artistic styles and materials. These portraits, textiles, miniatures, manuscripts, ceramics, tiles, medical texts, books and musical instruments represent more than ten centuries of human history and a geographic area stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to China. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the Museum shares a 17-acre site with Toronto’s Ismaili Centre, which was designed by architect Charles Correa. The surrounding park, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic, will provide an exciting new green space for the city. From their earliest
tile of Spain Awards for Architecture and Interior Design.
The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) has launched the 13th edition of this awards program, and invites submissions until October 28, 2014. It aims to improve awareness and understanding of ceramic tiles made in Spain amongst architects and interior designers, and to promote their use by these professionals. The awards program is held annually and is open to projects and professionals worldwide. Entries must make significant use of Spanish ceramic floor and/or wall tiles in the formal part of the building. A prize fund of 39,000 Euros is divided into three categories. The two main categories are Architecture and Interior Design, and each is awarded 17,000 Euros. The main requirement to participate is that the projects use ceramic tiles made in Spain. The third
category is the Degree Project category, which targets students of architecture; winners in this category are awarded 5,000 Euros. www.tileofspainawards.com
Margolese National Design for Living Prize.
The UBC Margolese National Design for Living Prize was created by a generous estate gift made to the University of British Columbia by Leonard Herbert Margolese. The $50,000 prize will be awarded annually to a Canadian who has made outstanding contributions to the development or improvement of living environments for Canadians of all economic classes. Previous winners include Bing Thom of Bing Thom Architects in 2013, and in 2012, Professor Eric Miller of the University of Toronto. The deadline for submitting nominations for the prize is October 1, 2014. To nominate a candidate, please visit the website. www.sala.ubc.ca/about/margolese-national-design-living-prize
Shim-Sutcliffe Architects win WAN Healthcare Award for Best Hospital Upgrade.
The winners of the 2014 World Architecture News (WAN) Awards for Healthcare were recently announced. Shim-Sutcliffe Architects won the Best Hospital Upgrade category with their recently completed Residence for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Forming a sinuous line between the Don Valley to the north and the low-rise urban fabric of the city to the south, Shim-Sutcliffe’s project articulates both individual contemplative life and the community engagement of the Sisters’ minis-
canadian architect 09/14
canadian architect 09/14
News tries, making relationships to nature and the city to reinforce public and private aspects. The residence is located in the heart of the city and includes the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic 1850s Taylor House. The Sisters’ mission statement mandated an ecological approach to physical, social and economic well-being of all people. The program for the building includes 58 residential suites accommodating a variety of levels of care, from independent living to long-term care, nursing stations and private hospital facilities. Jurors considered this unique project to possess integrity and a holistic approach, “brave and very ambitious in a different way.” They were pleased with the scheme, highlighting “the complex façade and wonderful finishing.” www.wantoday.com/health_5_14/index2.html
canada council architectural grant recipients announced.
The Canada Council administers a program that provides grants to architecture professionals to advance public conversation about contemporary Canadian architecture. This year, the following nine projects were selected from 44 submitted. Henriquez Partners Architects received $18,300 for the publication Citizen City, exploring the potential partnerships between architects, developers, non-profits and government. The book is
to be published by Simply Read Books/Blue Imprint. Formline Architecture and Urbanism received $20,000 to prepare the contents of a book and exhibition at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre on the architecture of Alfred Waugh and the place of indigenous world views in contemporary Canadian architecture. Carley Friesen received $10,000 to curate the fourth annual Winnipeg Design Festival, an event regrouping some 20 different events and involving over 100 designers. Susan Algie received $15,000 for a book and exhibit on Green Blankstein Russell (GBR) Architects, with the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation. George Kapelos received $20,000 to prepare the contents of an exhibition on the 1958 Toronto City Hall competition and its impact on Canadian architectural culture, for the Paul H. Cocker Gallery in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University. Raja Moussaoui received $20,000 to produce video documentaries on Centre Village by 5468796 Architecture, Oppenheimer Park Community Activity House by office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers, and Regent Park Aquatic Centre by MJM Architects, for the online platform in-context. Shim-Sutcliffe Architects received $18,300 for a book of essays and visual exploration on the core discipline of architecB:9.25” ture and the firm’s work, to be published T:9” by Birkhäuser Verlag. Howard Schubert S:8”
received $12,200 for an architectural history of skating rinks and hockey arenas, to be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. And finally, Martin Houle received $16,200 for a graphical and technological update of the architecture news website kollectif.net.
coMPetItIoNS Van Alen Institute announces Future Ground international competition.
The Van Alen Institute recently announced the international competition Future Ground, and is now accepting submissions from professionals in landscape design, architecture, planning, public policy, and other related fields to develop innovative strategies for vacant land reuse in New Orleans. The competition is supported by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which owns over 2,000 vacant lots and has become a regional and national leader in the reuse of vacant lots for community resilience and development. Teams will be selected from an international open Request for Qualifications process. Applications are due by September 29, 2014 and will be evaluated by a jury of national leaders in design and policy. Each winning team will receive a $15,000 stipend, and will work closely in a six-month collaborative process with local stakeholders and national leaders to bring small incremental projects
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to the neighbourhood and citywide scale; develop policy to support promising design strategies; and make these strategies participatory and flexible enough to be sustained into the next generation. The teams will produce solutions that may be applied to sites citywide, and can also help catalyze strategies for change in other cities around the world. The Van Alen Institute will work closely with the selected teams to leverage this modest stipend to promote their work nationally and internationally and develop networks among the competition’s advisory committee. Future Ground is the first of several competitions to be launched as an integral part of the Van Alen Institute’s multi-year initiative exploring how both the form and organization of the built environment inf luence our need for escape. Through competitions, public programs and research, this unique multidisciplinary effort is bringing together innovators in design, public health, policy and the sciences to change the way we understand cities.
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WHAt’S NeW call for submissions to the 2016 Venice Biennale in Architecture.
The Canada Council for the Arts invites proposals for Canadian representation at the 2016 Venice Biennale in Architecture, to be shown in the Canada Pavilion at Venice and in Canada. The Venice Biennale in Architecture is the foremost international platform to engage critical conversations on contemporary architecture. Cultural leaders, architects, artists and more than 350,000 visitors are expected at the Biennale between June and November 2016. The proposed presentation should communicate excellence, innovation and currency in contemporary Canadian architecture including buildings, landscapes and places, or in works of critical and/or design research on architecture, landscape architecture or the urban environment. The submission deadline is Wednesday, October 15, 2014. The nominal applicant must be an incorporated Canadian organization, institution or registered business. These include, but are not limited to, architectural firms, organizations and associations, schools of architecture, artist-run centres, galleries and museums. The organization, institution or business must be at least 75 percent Canadian-owned and have its head office and executive located in Canada. The team must include professional expertise and experience in contemporary Canadian architecture. Information packages on the Canadian pavilion and the management of exhibitions in Venice are available upon request by contacting Brigitte Desrochers at 1.800.263.5588 x5270 or at 613.239.2089, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://canadacouncil.ca/en/visual-arts/venice-biennale
Athabasca University now offers online architecture program.
Athabasca University (AU) and Architecture Canada | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) have teamed up to launch an exciting new program for students who wish to become professional architects. The Bachelor of Science (Architecture) degree officially launched at the Art Gallery of Alberta on April 29, 2014. Athabasca University’s architecture program is a flexible work-study program for students who pursue an alternate path to an architecture career. The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Architecture (PBDA) is the academic component of the RAIC ’s Diploma in Architecture, and will allow qualifying students to follow a practice-based path that will prepare them as architects of the future. Building on a pre-professional program currently in the latter stages of development, the PBDA offers a graduate-level credential in areas of technology and sustainable design. The strength of this program is that it serves the adult learner who wishes to earn a quality university education regardless of age, gender, culture, ability or disability, geographic location, career and family commitments. While the program integrates the principles of architectural theory and design, it also respects the diversity of Canadian architectural practice. http://architecture.athabascau.ca
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LAMP oF KNoWLeDGe A MoDerNist church iN Quebec city NoW houses A bustLiNG LibrAry uNDer its DistiNctive biLLoWiNG rooF. Bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau, Quebec City, Quebec Dan Hanganu Architectes and Côté Leahy Cardas Architectes text Thomas-Bernard Kenniff Photos Stéphane Groleau Project
“Never forget where you are.” The reminder from architect Dan Hanganu is highly apropos for the Bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau (BMC) in Quebec City. In la belle province, where religious heritage is abundant—
oPPosite A central atrium links the library’s heritage core and a jewelbox addition. Above A boldly geometric steeple and roof mark the building’s place in Sainte-Foy, west of downtown Quebec City.
and its cultural value is often in question—the adaptive reuse of churches is not an easy proposition, and certainly never neutral. When converted to condominiums or commercial uses, the process often shines a harsh light on present-day society. The conversion of a church to a cultural program seems a more natural fit. In this charged context, the BMC addresses its delicate task brilliantly and with deepest respect. The past 15 years have seen major investments in new Quebec libraries and renovations. Beyond its social contribution, this has resulted in a remarkable series of architectural landmarks. Julie Bélanger, an architect with Quebec City’s building department, explains that the BMC
canadian architect 09/14
canadian architect 09/14
is part of an evolution of libraries from book depositories to social centres. In these new libraries, dusty tomes, silence and weight have stepped aside to make way for flows of people, social relations and information. Bélanger calls this “a small revolution,” but a deeply significant one. “They are public places,” adds project director Mylène Gauthier, “one of the last refuges of free gathering.” The BMC is an excellent example of how architecture can support these new needs in a tangible, meaningful way. Judging by the success of the library, the City seems to be on track with its vision of creating “third places” between home and work. “People recognize themselves in the sobriety of the place,” offers Julie Michaud, former director of libraries for the district. The highest increase in visitors has been with children and adolescents, a meaningful nod to the library’s namesake Monique Corriveau, a local author renowned for her children’s stories. It is fitting that the architecture of the BMC achieves a luminous presence respectful of both its past and future vocations. When Hanganu says that, as architects, they were guests in his space (des invités dans son espace), it is ambiguous whether he is referring to the transcendent temple of a divinity—or to the work of its architect, Jean-Marie Roy, a respected colleague and dear friend, who sadly passed away before he could see Hanganu’s plans for the library. Roy completed the Saint-Denis Church in 1964 during the Second Vatican Council, a turning point for the Catholic Church in modernizing its doctrine and practice. The church’s construction also coincided with Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, which reinforced the separation of church and state. Saint-Denis is emblematic of this modern context, with a column-free open plan and less hierarchical arrangement than its predecessors (a multipurpose room is accessed directly from the choir). Nowhere are the church’s modern expressive qualities more evident than in its
oPPosite toP, LeFt to riGht The library’s soaring space welcomes visitors; a spiral stair ascends to a loft-like reading lounge; new and restored skylights provide glowing light to a second-floor magazine area. oPPosite bottoM Near the entrance, a sculpted black box contains an office for sorting books.
spectacular roof: a swooping saddle supported by laminated wood rafters, rising into a spire that resembles two hands pressed against each other. When Hanganu in consortium with Côté Leahy Cardas Architectes began the library conversion in 2010, the team aimed to retain as much of the original building as possible, out of respect for the architecture and its designer. As project architect Sébastien Laberge explains, they initially tried to place the majority of the program underground. However, structural issues pushed the project in a different direction: to make room for structures sufficiently robust to support the anticipated loads, the old presbytery and multipurpose room behind the sanctuary were demolished. The spire still marks the presence of a major gathering place, drawing the eye up through the eclectic mix of buildings that punctuate lowdensity Route de l’église. Both the spire and roof were entirely stripped and reclad with reflective Galvalume arranged à la Canadienne (with overlapping sheets placed at 45-degree angles). The brightness of the roof against the sky, whether overcast or clear, is one of the new library’s most striking features. Gauthier appreciates the choice of a material that scintillates. “The gesture gave the building its nobility back, and allowed us to read the intention of the original architect unhindered,” she says. Insulation was added to the outside, while inside, the roof was stripped of its acoustic tiles to reveal regular wood lathe painted completely white. Where the roof ’s rafters meet the exterior wall, the architects devised a glass soffit that increases the legibility of the whole. They also restored two original details that had been covered: a series of skylights down the western crest of the roof, and a cleverly integrated window on the street-facing side of the spire. The renewed roof offers a unifying envelope, inside and out, as well as a clear gesture of architectural respect.
The library is arranged as a programmatic sequence that follows the original footprint of the church, unfolding from east to west. Highly public areas (including the café, circulation desk and periodicals) are located near the front, under the billowing roof. The architects insisted on keeping the street entrance in order to respect the main axis of the original complex. The entry area is carefully landscaped as an extension of the library to the sidewalk, and is marked by an articulated box housing a fire exit—the only volume to break the unity of the original church on the streetscape, announcing its new vocation. The middle section of the library, situated at the junction between old and new volumes, is designated for vertical circulation and an atrium open to all levels. A site-specific sculpture by artist Claudie Gagnon has been integrated into the back wall of the choir, and an elegant spiral staircase leads up to a pulpit-like reading area nicknamed “paradise” that, as Laberge explains, refers to the highest accessible point of a theatre. The rear part of the library is a near-rectangular glass-box addition, housing an adult section and meeting rooms on the top floor, children’s areas at ground level, and more stacks along with a multipurpose room on the lowest level which opens out to an outdoor sunken auditorium. In both the middle and rear sections of the library, the architects integrated additional skylights that lighten the new volumes and further support their concept of linking zenithal light to knowledge and learning. When first entering the library, the expanse of space is striking. Laberge recalls that an early question the team asked itself was: “what to do with such spatial luxury?” At the lowest point of the saddle, the roof is 10 metres tall, and it stands over 20 metres high at its pinnacle. In spite of these generous dimensions, the spatial disposition of the pro-
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canadian architect 09/14
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Main entrance newspapers and periodicals adult section reading lounge atriuM children’s section reading foyer Multipurpose rooM
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newspapers and periodicals adult section atriuM coMputer rooM Meeting rooM
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Main entrance café newspapers and periodicals exhibition rooM MultiMedia library circulation desk and offices youth section atriuM children’s garden children’s reading rooM children’s section gaMe library agora
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Multipurpose rooM reading foyer atriuM adult section Mechanical
DetAiL 1 galValuMe “tôle à la canadienne”
A view of building’s east elevation. Above The library’s activities revolve around its central circulation core.
ject rarely offers a complete view of the whole, but rather favours tantalizing glimpses foreshadowing further developments in the spatial sequence. The roof serves to unify and mark continuity over discrete elements that, as Hanganu points out, “relate to the plan of the old complex, but are never symmetrical to each other or to the main axis of the nave.” This subtle spatial play ties the project’s aesthetics to previous works by Hanganu. In the completed library, a series of carefully designed elements create delineated zones, distinct enough from each other to be special, but also intentionally overlapping and flowing into each other. As such, they encourage a flexible movement of people and ideas. The intangible flow of thoughts is irrevocably tied to the common world of things. The architecture subtly reorganizes the way we interact with information in space, and suggests new kinds of social relations that may emerge as a result. The library’s zones and discrete elements, like the library’s users, are multiple voices under an extraordinary light, and a roof that unites them together with purpose.
roof MeMbrane plywood 3 layers of wood backing strips rigid insulation existing wood structure clear glass new galVanized steel base for existing wood rafters
“We have sacred structures that were constructed because our society had other values, other ambitions,” says Hanganu. “You can do things with these structures that are contemporary—but you can never forget where you are. These are sacred spaces. They house something that can be transformed by our society into other virtues, regardless of whether you are religious or not. The coupling of knowledge with sacred light is beneficial to all.” 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 currently teaches at the université de Montréal and carleton university.
cLieNt Ville de Québec—arrondisseMent sainte-foy—sillery—cap-rouge | Architect teAM dan hanganu architectes—dan s. hanganu, gilles prud’hoMMe, sébastien laberge, oliVier grenier, anne-catherine richard, Marc despaties, audrey labonté, teodora stefanoVa, siMon barrette. côté leahy cardas architectes—diana cardas, JacQues côté, pascal gobeil, Martin girard, Marie-andrée goyette. | structurAL/ MechANicAL/eLectricAL bpr | LANDscAPe dan hanganu architectes and côté leahy cardas architectes | iNteriors dan hanganu architectes and côté leahy cardas architectes | coNtrActor poMerleau | Acoustics audiofax | Artist claudie gagnon AreA 4,400 M2 | buDGet $14.7 M | coMPLetioN noVeMber 2013
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canadian architect 09/14
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context PlAn 1 york house senior
school addition 2 science wing 3 south wing
4 gymnasium 5 playfield above
underground auditorium complex
6 upper and lower
concourse 7 junior school
keen girls An Addition to VAncouVer’s York house school ProVides its femAle students with A soPhisticAted And dYnAmic enVironment for leArning. York House Senior School, Vancouver, British Columbia Acton Ostry Architects Inc. text Hadani Ditmars Photos Bob Matheson and Michael Elkan Project
Since Vancouver’s York House School for Girls opened its doors 82 years ago, education has taken a quantum leap. No longer in the safe realm of reading, writing and arithmetic, it is now more about teaching “flexibility, creativity and collaboration,” says architect Mark Ostry. Concurrently, there has been a shift in attitudes to girls’ education, as well as a sea change in York House’s student body. While always a progressive school, its former status as a bastion of elite privilege has given way to a new multicultural and increasingly international Vancouver reality. Add growing enrollment to the picture, and it was clear that a new building was needed for the school’s 600 students.
The result—Acton Ostry’s recently completed building for senior students—connects existing campus structures while housing vibrant dynamic spaces for learning. The initiative was spearheaded by former head of school Gail Ruddy, and enabled by a private funding drive that raised $50 million from alumni and donors (the funds also contributed to a new auditorium in 2006). Not only is Acton Ostry’s addition an architectural highlight, it also links disparate buildings, streamlines the campus and provides a clear entrance portal for students, parents and faculty. Far from any cloying Victorian sense of a “school for girls” hidden away in safe solitude, the new school building offers transparency,
illumination and connection to the outdoors. “This isn’t about taking girls out of society,” says Ostry, “it’s about providing an environment that encourages them to be leaders in society.” The building it replaces, explains Ostry, was a 1971 wood-clad structure with 8-foot ceilings, no sunlight and no clear sense of place. The new Senior School is the exact opposite: a sunny realm made of glass, limestone, concrete and maple that orients students to the surrounding campus and fosters interaction. As with the firm’s Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, the trick of uniting buildings from different
ABoVe At the centre of the Senior School, a light-filled atrium is a busy crossroads between campus buildings. Nearby lounge areas offer quieter pockets that encourage informal discussions with classmates. Beyond, a passageway links to an auditorium and to the Junior School at the opposite end of the site.
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bob matheson bob matheson
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ABoVe, clockwise from left Glass balustrades subtly embellished with names of alumni line the skylit circulation core; blue and green stained-glass panels lend hints of colour to the interior; a typical classroom equipped with operable windows, smartboard and tackboard back wall. oPPosite, toP to Bottom Stone walls, planted beds and sheltering overhangs form a deep threshold that welcomes students and teachers to the Senior School; the centre of the atrium offers layered views of the new building’s three levels.
eras—in this case, a 1988 science wing, 1995 cafeteria, 2006 auditorium and 1961 junior school—is achieved by means of a light-filled atrium. All appears seamless now, but it was a challenge to connect buildings that featured disparate elevations and architectural styles. Also challenging was the installation of mechanical systems on the crowded site. With maximum height already reached and no room on the ground level, the design team decided to install the necessary equipment on the basement level, with air drawn from the courtyard, and noise mitigated by silencers. While the atrium is relatively simple in plan, the complexity of the section compels. Viewed from below, the series of stairwells and glass railings leading upwards offers intriguing angles and uniquely framed views. The overall effect suggests boldness, Modernism and optimism—a design sensibility that current head of school Chantal Gionet (who happens to be married to an architect) says encourages a “sense of self-confidence” in students. Indeed, it’s as if the building itself exudes self-esteem. The design certainly seems to encourage socialization and individuality, with its institutional scale broken down by surprisingly residential features. Visitors find themselves lingering longer than expected, locked
in conversations the gathering spaces seem to inspire, while lounges offer opportunities for group study and personal time. With the site poised between busy King Edward Avenue to the north and stately Shaughnessy homes to the south, part of this interplay between the institutional and the intimate was a natural process. But it was also a conscious decision: the architects aimed to counter the classic “school as prison” image by imbuing their space with a sense of freedom. The journey through the building begins with a generous and seductive entrance on the west side. A processional sense of terracing begins here, leading all the way down to an auditorium, buried under the playfield and shared by both Junior and Senior Schools. This pathway partially replaces an old underground tunnel that once joined the two spaces, which are now married by a fluid horizontal embrace. Landscaping by the PWL Partnership augments the architectural journey by mixing traditional box hedges and white roses (the school’s signature flower) with more modern plantings, like long grasses in rectilinear containers. Stone walls vary in height and merge into vine-covered trellises, offering peek-a-boo views into the courtyard and beyond. Outside as well as inside, scale is broken down into lovely intimate spaces. On the west side, an accessibility ramp successfully blends form
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canadian architect 09/14
and function, incorporating a series of terraces that culminate in a covered outdoor teaching area. Nearby, a contemplative space, flanked by an elongated water feature, offers a Zen retreat and a place to meditate on the school’s motto, “Not for Ourselves Alone.” The school’s theme of community outreach extends to the building itself, which opens up to its environment on all three levels. Classrooms include generous windows that are shaded from the sun by vertical fins, while on the upper f loor, a long terrace spans the western façade. On the east side, the teachers’ lounge—complete with communal dining table, kitchen, and spa-like changing and shower areas— opens into a terraced garden. At the core of the building, the centre of the atrium is a busy crossroads, with students circulating in all directions, anchored by east- and west-facing views encompassing other campus buildings. Concrete f loors seeded with exposed aggregate and then ground and polished offer a terrazzo feel, while informal study spaces soften the open area with more intimate pockets. The glass balustrades of the stairwells are embellished with the names of every alumnus since 1932, as well as of illustrious women—ranging from Joan of Arc to Hillary Clinton. And the interior boasts a few colourful touches, like red, orange and saffron glass-doored lockers. Otherwise, Acton Ostry has created a tabula rasa—a temple to learning that is also an open canvas for girls to paint on—encouraging a sense of individuation and self-expression. The idea of the school as a blank slate is both figurative and literal. All blackboards, for example, have been replaced by whiteboards, and classrooms are flexible minimalist spaces that encourage regular interior rearrangement. Clutter is banished to storage areas, hidden by sliding glass doors painted white—which also double as writing surfaces. Students make full use of smartboard technology that allows for real-time input via individual digital devices. On the atrium-facing side of the locker, a pin-up surface welcomes inspirational images and texts. At the time of this author’s visit, material on display included a collection of Marxist posters from Lenin’s era, articles on Martin Luther King, and gay-positive images of two young Chinese women. Wow, York House. You’ve come a long way, baby.
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forecourt outdoor theatre entry lounge atrium classroom office staff room boardroom plaza playfield
client york house school | Architect teAm mark ostry, russell acton, susan ockwell, michael fugeta, ryan mccuaig, nathaniel straathof, sergei vakhramee | structurAl fast + epp | mechAnicAl mcw consultants ltd. (formerly perez engineering ltd.) | electricAl acumen engineering | lAndscAPe pwl partnership landscape architects inc. | interiors acton ostry architects inc. | contrActor haebler construction ltd. | Acoustics daniel lyzun & associates | enVironmentAl/ hAzArdous mAteriAls acm environmental corporation | Building enVeloPe morrison hershfield ltd. | code gage-babcock & associates ltd. | geotechnicAl exp | surVeYor murray & associates | sPecificAtions padley consulting inc. | QuAntitY surVeYor bty group | AreA 3,345 m 2 | Budget $12 m | comPletion august 2013
hAPPy birthdAy A midwife-led birth centre in toronto’s regent PArk bAlAnces between its highly visible locAtion And the PrivAte Act of giving birth. Toronto Birth Centre, Toronto, Ontario LGA Architectural Partners text Joanne Lam Photos Ben Rahn/A-Frame Project
I am about to pop. Instead of lying in a hospital bed screaming, I am calmly pacing up and down Dundas Street East. When I stop and sit beside a planter to breathe through a contraction, curious glances come my way. I am in the midst of the revitalized Regent Park neighbourhood, where new buildings of various uses and heights line the street. At the base of a mid-rise, where you might expect to see a trendy restaurant, you are likely to be witnessing birth. Welcome to the Toronto Birth Centre, a project over 35 years in the making. The Toronto Birth Centre (TBC) is a new option for expectant mothers, who, until this February, could only choose between home and hospital as a place for giving birth. As a building typology, birth centres may be located in old mansions, renovated houses, within hospitals, or they take the form of standalone centres.
Above A freestanding tub is the focal point of each birthing suite. The washroom includes two entrances, creating a circulation loop around the room’s wet zone.
Sara Wolfe, Toronto Birth Centre project co-lead and now the president of its board of directors, did not have a preconceived building type in mind when she took up the reins of the project in 2003 (picking up the pieces from an initiative dating back to the early 1980s but subsequently cancelled by the Harris government). Her starting point was advocating for a culturally safe place that welcomes everyone in Toronto, with emphasis on its most vulnerable and underserved clients— Aboriginals. The search for an appropriate space eventually led to an empty concrete shell on the ground and second f loors of 230 Sackville, a Toronto Community Housing rental building designed by Wallman Architects. Although there was some initial hesitation from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), in the end, the site turned out to be brilliantly appropriate. It is accessible by public transit, close to hospitals, offers easy ground access, and even ties in to the revitalization—or rebirth, as it were—of a mixed-income neighbourhood. The clients hoped to open up the birth experience to the community, and chose LGA Architectural Partners to help them create a distinct typology for the TBC: a storefront birth centre.
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Behind the floor-to-ceiling glass façade, I share a light lunch with my midwife in the communal kitchen. The kitchen—along with a cedarclad entrance, meeting room, and family gathering spaces—is designed as part of a public strata, organized along the street frontage. By now, the contractions are too frequent for me to go outside, so I lumber slowly up and down the corridor, which acts as a semi-private layer buffering the three private birth rooms. Lampshades made of porcelain casts of found birch, wallpaper with abstracted images of trees, and a fresh saturated colour palette surround me, cocooning me from the hustle and bustle outside. At the same time, seeing streetcars pass by allows me to remain part of the rhythm of the city, and puts me and my big belly on display for all to celebrate. With every laboured step, I am reaffirming and promoting the natural act of birth. As wave after wave of contractions becomes more intense, I enter the birth room named “Cedar.” A curtain separates a vestibule, allowing somebody to play music or drum without any visual connection. Alien probes and scary needles, strange monitors and ugly gowns are nowhere to be seen. Instead, a sparkling white deep soaker tub beckons, encouraging active birthing. With lights dimmed and facing the mural What We Teach Our Children by Métis artist Christi Belcourt, I lower myself into the tub, letting the warm water soothe the pain of each volcanic eruption in my belly. On the other side of the tub is a penthouse-scaled washroom with two points of access, forming a continuous circuit around the wet zone. As the water cools, I make my way around the corner to the room’s most private point, the hospital-grade double bed. In a supported sitting position, I start to bear down. The room is spacious enough for large families to gather around, yet remains intimate for just me and my husband. Numerous 1:1 mock-ups and “a day in the life” exercises during the design process have obviously paid off. It feels like the right place to welcome my baby into the world. It feels like my place.
Although the TBC may be a novelty for Toronto, the concept of birth centres is certainly not new. Ontario has had a birth centre in a renovated house in Six Nations, serving Aboriginal clients since 1996. Quebec has the most birth centres in Canada: 13 in total, each with a midwifery practice located on site. Given the prevalence of these centres, it is small wonder that around 80 percent of Quebec women receiving a midwife’s care choose to give birth in them. Manitoba has a standalone publicly funded birth centre, while Alberta has two private ones located in houses. Saskatchewan has a midwifery-led birthing unit as part of a hospital outreach centre. Currently, MOHLTC is funding and piloting the TBC and a second centre in Ottawa, studying the cost impact of moving low-risk births out of hospitals, and following health outcomes over an 18-month period. At the TBC, a midwifery practice shares the second floor with the centre’s offices, so regular pre- and post-natal care can occur at the same place as the birth. The effects of this coupling may reveal further benefits on how and where women give birth in the future. The Toronto Birth Centre recently welcomed its 100th birth. At the celebration, a diverse group of mothers and fathers were busy bouncing their newborns. For my baby and me, it has been a privilege to share with this group such a profound life experience in this unique storefront. Joanne Lam is a registered architect, writer, and proud mother of two based in Toronto.
client ToronTo BirTh CenTre inC. | Architect teAm Janna LeviTT, Danny BarTman, James maLLinson, anTero FonTe, Kris Payne | mechAnicAl/electricAl Crossey engineering | interiors Lga arChiTeCTuraL ParTners | contrActor TaPa ConsTruCTion | code DaviD hine engineering | Project mAnAgers mhPm | AreA 13,000 FT 2 | budget $3.6 m | comPletion January 2014
oPPosite toP, left to right A cedar-clad entrance welcomes expectant mothers; a wide corridor provides ample space for pacing. Above, clockwise from toP left A view of the second-floor clinic; the family waiting area and a communal kitchen provide domestic-style spaces to celebrate the birth; the two-storey facility faces Dundas Street East; colourful wall murals and translucent glass employ soothing tree motifs.
enTry reCePTion miDwiFe worK room FamiLy waiTing KiChen/Dining BirThing room ConsuLTaTion room suPPLy room
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FamiLy washroom miDwiFe resT area LaunDry meChaniCaL/eLeCTriCaL serviCe haLL garBage exTerior sTorage
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graphic content tExt
Entro CommuniCations provEs itsElf as an indispEnsablE ComplEmEnt to thE arChitECtural dEsign proCEss by imbuing buildings with grEatEr potEntial, rEsulting in a morE riChly tExturEd ExpEriEnCE. Architects have become increasingly aware of the critical role that environmental graphic designers play in realizing some of the finer details of a successful building or urban design scheme. Their expertise in visual communications provides the necessary coherence to help mitigate the confusion inherent in the urban context, elevating the experience of the everyday citizen from unremarkable and baff ling to pleasurable and engaging. Entro Communications has established itself as a key player in architectural and urban design projects worldwide, designing and implementing placemaking graphics, wayfinding and donor recognition systems—among other things. Headquartered in Toronto, the firm also maintains offices in Calgary and Zürich, facilitating their involvement in projects on an international level. Having cultivated a particular niche in technical knowledge and fabrication, Entro boasts a long history involving collaborations with global interdisciplinary design powerhouses such as Pentragram and Bruce Mau. And their position was further strengthened when they merged with 45-year-old communications design firm Gottschalk+Ash in 2011, acquiring Principal Creative Director Udo Schliemann in the process. A native of Germany, Schliemann graduated from the Technical College for Design in Würzburg in 1982, and began his career at the vener-
abovE Brilliant cobalt blue vertical glass fins feature the names of major donors, and form an integral and recognizable element of the prominent Bay Street façade of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning.
able Stuttgart-based design studio Stankowski + Duschek. He speaks with profound respect about the late Anton Stankowski, his former mentor and one of Germany’s foremost graphic designers, who instilled valuable lessons in the young man. “For me,” says Schliemann, “there is no separation between free and applied art. It only has to be good.” He envisions his role in an architectural project as going far beyond the mere provision of signs; for him, graphics, electronic displays and wayfinding “speak” to a building’s users, and are an integral part of the entire experience. Charmingly soft-spoken, Schliemann describes the culture and spirit of collaboration that cements Entro’s longstanding relationships with some of the most notable architecture firms in Canada and abroad. Each party’s recognition of the strengths of an interdisciplinary approach and a mutual respect for each other have resulted in a vast number of successful projects in virtually every building sector there is—including civic, cultural, educational, health care, retail and corporate/commercial. In keeping with the architect’s vision, Entro’s aim is to inject artistic expression into the building by way of colour, form, text and image in creating a memorable and branded environment that reflects the ethos of the client. This can be seen in the recently completed Daniels Spectrum project in Toronto’s rapidly transforming multicultural Regent Park neighbour-
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the Daniels Spectrum project in toronto’s Regent Park is emblematic of the multicultural neighbourhood context, referencing the polychromatic flag colours of the community’s residents in the colourful striped elevations. bottom lEft Comprised of horizontal glass panels in eight different shades of blue, the donor recognition system on the second-floor mezzanine of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning forms a striking and transparent screen. bottom right Occupying floors 19-21 is one of the Research Centre’s six atria, easily identifiable as the Molecules, therapies & infectious Diseases “neighbourhood” through the wall patterns of variously sized star-shaped elements. abovE, lEft to right
tion and assembly, the f lags are hardly discernible anymore, but the repetition of strong colours and vertical rigour ref lect the regal yet lively nature of f lags.” Importantly, the building’s polychromatic appearance is also intended to appeal and respond to the sensibilities of the many neighbourhood residents from Africa, South Asia and South America, cultures that have a deeper engagement with colour in their environment. Another example of Entro’s effective visual communication strategy can be seen in the new Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at the Hospital for Sick Children, also designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects. Entro’s role moved beyond the basic signage and wayfinding program for the entirety of the project, and extended to the provision of bold, three-storey-high graphic motifs that adorn the walls of the six stacked atria (called “neighbourhoods”) in the building, animating the interior of what might otherwise be considered a cold and clinical medical research facility.
hood. This three-storey arts and cultural centre is one of the facilities developed by the non-profit organization Artscape, with whom Entro had previously worked on the successful Wychwood Barns project located further north in the city. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, Daniels Spectrum has emerged as a highly recognizable icon in the community, due in no small part to Entro’s contributions. Architecturally, a restrictive budget translates into what is essentially a plain metal box, but vertical bands of bold colour are liberally incorporated into the cladding, enlivening the streetscape and building on all sides. This motif is carried right through to the interior of the building, where Entro also contributed their skills in the design and production of an integrated and innovative signage and donor recognition system. But the multi-hued stripes are not merely a random embellishment; the colours are meant to represent the various immigrant communities that populate Regent Park, and are inspired by the f lags of far-f lung nations. According to Schliemann, “Through the process of abstrac-
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the Weston Family Learning Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario announces itself through a brightly coloured and highly visible sign featuring entro’s newly created graphic logo; on the interior of the Learning Centre, clear wall signage aids wayfinding, while bright colours and a numbering system help code the motorized serpentining coat rack affixed to the ceiling above. bottom, lEft to right the immensely popular Canteen restaurant at the tiFF Bell Lightbox is a highly successful example of entro’s graphic contributions in establishing a recognizable brand. the colourblocked logo is emblazoned on the building’s glazed façades. abovE, lEft to right
architecture. This is executed in a most sophisticated fashion at the Peter Gilgan Centre, and speaks to the well-oiled collaborative process that Entro and the Diamond Schmitt team have established. Highly visible on the building’s ground floor adjacent to the front entry, brilliant cobalt blue vertical glass fins bear the names of major donors, and form an integral part of the Bay Street façade—even at night, when they are dramatically enhanced by LED lighting. The theme is picked up on the interior, where a donor wall on the second-floor mezzanine features horizontal glass louvres affixed to a structural system of deep wooden mullions. Similar to the colour used on the exterior fins, the eight different shades here are drawn from the blue/green tones that Schliemann favours in his artwork, and contribute to the soothing quality of this compelling and transparent ocean-hued screen. The end result was arrived at only after several iterations of the wall were developed by Entro and architects Mike Szabo and Duncan Higgins, who designed the brackets and all technical aspects of the glass.
According to Schliemann, the inspiring and colourful patterns refer to the themes of research in each neighbourhood, and help situate building users while facilitating the clear identification of specific departments. For instance, the star-shaped graphic elements defining the Molecules, Therapies & Infectious Diseases neighbourhood on Floors 19-21 were inspired by scientific images of f loating molecules and organic matter. And in the Brain & Behaviour neighbourhood on Floors 4-6, the repeated and overlapping triangular shapes have associations with crystalline and electrical aspects that ref lect brain activities on a molecular level. The distinctive graphic motifs are not painted directly on the wall, but are instead printed on white vinyl fabric by PCL Graphics and applied as wallpaper in six separate prints tiled together. As funding becomes increasingly scarce, there is increased reliance on private donations to sustain both public and private institutions. Consequently, donor recognition systems have become a requirement in most building programs, integrated as part of the interior and exterior
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canadian architect 09/14
the floral patterns enlivening the glass curtain wall at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy are a poetic reference to the plant-based origins of many pharmaceuticals, and inject vitality into a gritty party of downtown Kitchener.
Having undergone several architectural iterations in its history (the most recent being the Frank Gehry expansion and renovation in 2008), the Art Gallery of Ontario subsequently unveiled its reconceived art education facility for children and adults—now called the Weston Family Learning Centre ( WFLC)—in October 2011. Hariri Pontarini Architects opened up the building’s formerly impenetrable concrete western edge to Beverley Street, creating a transparent and welcoming space. Substantial architectural manipulations to the building interior facilitate community creativity and learning, including the provision of a variety of meeting rooms and teaching studios. The WFLC ’s reinvention required a branding strategy, and Entro responded with a new graphic identity which is now evident on the western edge of the gallery’s Dundas Street façade, and which is used on all of the WFLC’s communication materials. Highly appealing, the bright reddish orange chosen as the dominant colour backgrounds three overlapping amorphic outlines that were inspired, appropriately, by a scribble—the blue, green and yellow wavy bands encircle the words “learning centre.” Clarity of wayfinding is essential in an institution of this size, and Entro contributed an economical but effective signage system that fulfills its purpose, with large adhesive vinyl letters rendered in attractive and playfully bright colours. Worthy of note is the ingenious overhead coat rack designed by the architect team as a space-saving feature; the serpentining form is suspended from the ceiling and can be easily raised or lowered with the push of a button via a motorized pulley. To facilitate coat retrieval, Entro collaborated with the architects on the coat rack to create an organized and coded system, demarcating sections through numbered and coloured segments that echo the colours used in the WFLC ’s wayfinding elements. For more commercially oriented projects, Entro has proven its success in the creation of comprehensively branded environments. KPMB Architects’ TIFF Bell Lightbox (see CA, February 2011) has become a cultural hub and locus of activity in Toronto’s buzzing Entertainment District, the new headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival and a host of other specialty film programs and exhibitions. Based upon a recommendation from KPMB —with whom Entro has a long-established working relationship—the client hired Schliemann and team, and tasked them with designing and implementing a comprehensive wayfinding and donor recognition system for the entire project. A fairly complex building pro-
gram means that this was an extensive job, as the signage components begin on the exterior of the building and continue through to all the main circulation areas, theatre spaces, gift shop, exhibition and meeting spaces, and the two expansive donor walls on the second and third floors. Striking as they are, these walls are minimally elegant, unobtrusive and complementary to the interior architecture, comprised of large frosted glass panels illuminated from behind with LED strips. Moreover, Entro is responsible for the brand identity and signage elements for the three Oliver & Bonacini restaurant properties situated within the Lightbox—Canteen, Luma, and the exclusive and private Malaparte event space on the sixth floor. With several properties scattered throughout the city, O&B is a slick Toronto-based restaurant chain with whom Entro has worked previously in developing their master brand, one that is expanding as new restaurants are being added to the group. The execution of brand identity is thorough: the vibrant restaurant logos are boldly expressed on the building’s glazed façades in numerous locations, clearly visible to passersby on both King and John Streets. With Entro in control of all of the Lightbox’s signage and branding elements, there is a seamless integration of architecture and design, and a palpable synergistic quality to the experience. Perhaps one of the most distinctive projects that Entro has worked on is the building for the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo (see CA, June 2010). Designed by Hariri Pontarini with Robbie/ Young + Wright Architects, the School of Pharmacy is a highly expressive project whose rigorous orthogonal geometries contrast with the decorative floral motif of the glass panels that clad the building. Intended to reference natural healing and ancient remedies employing medicinal herbs, the four different species of plants represented on the School are the result of meticulous research on botanicals indigenous to the Kitchener-Waterloo region. The building’s curtain-wall façades take on a rather Baroque feel through the colourful patterned glazing, invariably evoking stained glass of the 17th century. Possessing an artist’s sensibility, Siamak Hariri knows how to infuse his buildings with uncommon beauty. He commissioned his brother-inlaw and London-based artist Sky Glabush to create a delicate watercolour painting of these selected species, which was then passed on to Entro to determine how to apply and magnify the watercolour to an appropriate scale for the building’s expansive glass panels. The solution was to phototransfer selected portions of the painting to DuPont vinyl film, forming an interlayer that is literally sandwiched between the panes of glass comprising the curtain wall. In keeping with the painterly and composed feel of the original watercolour, Schliemann’s hand is evident in the careful manipulation and placement of the plants and flowers on the façades: the foliage is more concentrated on the lower levels and entrances, becoming more sparse as it progresses up the building. The result is unlike anything else seen in recent memory, and the building has become a refreshing and poetic landmark in gritty downtown Kitchener. Despite this article’s focus on local work in Ontario, Entro is currently engaged in a number of high-profile projects both here in North America and in more exotic locations. Contracts with the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art keep the firm busy in New York. An outpost of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi anticipates Entro’s contributions, as does Project Jewel, a mixed-use complex at Singapore’s Changi Airport. But one project in particular that Schliemann eagerly awaits is the Bahá’í Temple of South America in Santiago, Chile by Hariri Pontarini Architects (see CA, December 2004). Involved during the very early stages of the project in the exquisite design of a handprinted and embossed book that no doubt helped HPA snag the competition victory, Entro is also contributing impeccably designed signage and wayfinding elements that will be featured in the project and on site. Schliemann’s role extended to the design of the textual quotes from Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith, which will be inscribed on the translucent white stone layer sheathing the interior surface of the temple’s intricate steel structure. Sure to be an architectural game-changer on a global scale, we—with bated breath—also await its completion.
Courtesy ArChiteCture49 (formerly smith CArter)
Differentiate & align text
FirmS can optimize their practice—anD their bottom line— by FocuSing on excellent Delivery, Service anD iDeaS, anD aligning their operationS moDel accorDingly. Design professionals are expert at creating well-designed, operative built environments. Unfortunately, many are not as adept at designing and effectively operating their own firms. Running a design practice is often regarded as the dark side of the profession and treated with indifference. Yet optimizing a firm’s activities allows it to deal with the “new normal” of increasingly complex built environments, unique project delivery approaches, new sustainability requirements and clients demanding higher value. In short, these days only strong firms will succeed. Differentiating a practice and aligning it with a firm’s operating model are key steps in strengthening any firm. The first step is for firm leaders to overcome the notion that a practice can be good at everything, and all things to all people. The benefits of switching from a general practice to a specialized practice model were recently outlined in this publication (see CA, July 2014). So, if you’re not going to be great at everything, what will make your firm different? In their 1987 book Success Strategies for Design Professionals, the Coxe Group was one of the first to identify three practice types (other thinkers on this topic include David Maister, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, as well as Fred Crawford and Ryan Mathews). Here are the three firm types described by the Coxe Group: Strong Delivery This firm type is excellent in the efficient delivery of projects. Design and client services are maintained at competent levels, but these firms are differentiated in the marketplace as fast, efficient and inexpensive. Strong Service This firm type is excellent in the provision of intimate client service. Ideas and efficiency are maintained at competent levels, but these firms are differentiated as experts in understanding a client’s issues and then working closely with them to create a total solution. Strong iDea This firm type is excellent in solving unique problems. Efficiency and client service are maintained at competent levels, but these firms differentiate by providing leading-edge designs for clients requiring unique solutions.
a view of service-oriented firm architecture49’s canadian Science centre for Human and animal Health; the renewal of Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall exemplifies the ideas-focused orientation of KPMB architects.
above, leFt to right
Idea firms tend to receive the most media coverage. But one differentiator is not nobler than another—they are simply different. Each practice type is built on the inherent strengths of a firm and each one can be wildly successful, whether success is defined quantitatively or qualitatively. Consider your own experience when purchasing products and services. When you shop at Costco (delivery retailer) you expect low cost— you don’t expect personalized service or boutique-like stores. When you consult with your local accountant for tax advice (service provider) you expect customized service. You don’t expect the cheapest prices or unique solutions to unique problems. If you were fortunate enough to be looking for a race-bred vehicle, you may choose a Ferrari (idea car). You’d expect the latest in automotive innovation, but you wouldn’t expect to find one cheap or to get its V12 engine serviced at the corner garage. What you expect in each of these cases is for the provider of the product or service to absolutely excel in ideas, service or delivery. You expect they will be competent, although not necessarily outstanding, in the two areas in which they’re not specialized. Once design firm leaders let go of the generalist mindset and choose a differentiator, the really hard work begins: aligning that choice with a firm’s operating model. Regardless of firm type, operating models are composed of similar elements. These include: client acquisition, staff attraction/retention, professional development, project delivery, pricing of services, leadership/ownership transition, risk management, staff utilization, backlog management, financial management, compensation, and many other factors. Each element of the operating model must be configured to suit the chosen differentiator. Let’s look at two elements in a bit more depth. client acquiSition If yours is a Strong Delivery firm, your client acquisition strategy needs to be low-cost and fast. You’re likely on a first-name basis with builders and developers who are your typical clients. You don’t have time to write exhaustive proposals or have frequent lunches to uncover prospective clients.
canadian architect 09/14
canadian architect 09/14
Practice If yours is a Strong Service firm, your client acquisition strategy is based on being connected in each of your practice communities. Each pursuit is led by a principal who is an expert in the client’s industry and is aware of upcoming projects through a mature network. An ace marketing team works with these principals to create customized responses to both formal and informal requests for proposals. If yours is a Strong Idea firm, the lead principal will be held in high regard as an idea person. That principal is networked with movers and shakers on boards responsible for selecting innovators to tackle unique problems. The lead principal’s reputation has been developed through numerous design awards, publications, teaching and speaking engagements. In a Strong Delivery firm, the objective is to keep overhead low and retain only the most productive staff. The firm might have a two-tier compensation system, with salary and bonuses for the firm’s key technical staff, and salary only for other staff. The firm may contract with overseas production services or have an overseas office led by a partner. This way, compensation costs are kept low and the firm can operate on a 24-hour clock. In a Strong Service firm, the objective is to develop and retain experienced professionals. Compensation might be hourly plus overtime, or salary with an overtime component. Salaries are likely set at or above industry average for each position in the firm. Management personnel could be on salary with a range of bonus potentials once the firm or business unit attains its profit goals for the year. Profit-sharing may also be employed. Extra perks may be in place to encourage retention such as additional vacation, a premium benefits package, extra holiday time and professional development opportunities. In a Strong Idea firm, the objective is to attract the best and the brightest thinkers. It’s an “up or out” culture with frequent staff turnover, reinforced by salary structure. Entry-level staff are generally paid at or below industry norms. A high level of project experimentation and
innovation are understood to be requirements for promotion, and are part of personal exploration time that is often uncompensated. Generous bonuses may be awarded to senior staff when the firm is profitable. These are just two of the elements of a firm’s operating system. Each element needs to be configured in a way that aligns with a firm’s differentiator. It’s important to be very careful when attempting to emulate the systems of other firms or when incorporating the latest best practices from industry newsletters. Your firm’s differentiator must be the driver of your operating model. An added benefit of the alignment exercise is that it serves to reveal any internal disconnects that might exist. For example, one partner may think he is building an Idea firm while others are trying to build a Delivery firm. Or a practice might be facing a decision to pursue the wrong type of client, potentially dragging the firm down for years into the future. Alignment is an ongoing process, refined as a firm evolves. It creates the excitement of getting everyone on the bus, in the right seat and going in the same direction. Look at the design firms in your community. Check out their websites. Can you identify the successful ones? In all likelihood they are Idea, Service and Delivery practices that have achieved alignment. It is probable that they have further distinguished themselves in terms of project types, geographic reach, service offerings and other factors. By choosing a differentiator and aligning it with an operating model, design firms increase the impact they have on the built environment, deliver greater value to their clients, become better compensated, and have more fun. rick linley is the President of strong Practice strategies, a consultancy helping principals of evolving design firms to strengthen their practices. his experience as Coo of smith Carter Architects and engineers inc. resulted in first-hand experience with differentiation and alignment. rick can be reached through www.strongpracticestrategies.com.
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape
Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890-1918
Architectures de la connaissance au Québec
By susan Herrington. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013.
Edited by Charles C. Hill. ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2013.
Edited by Jacques Plante. Québec: Les Publications du Québec, 2013.
Few can argue against the successes of internationally acclaimed landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. After over six decades of practice, her portfolio boasts a diversity of works ranging from intimate private suburban gardens and public playgrounds to politically charged urban schemes realized in collaboration with high-profile architects. Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology (1976) and the National Gallery of Canada (1988) are among her most well-known. While this celebration of Oberlander’s prolific career feels long overdue, landscape architect and professor Susan Herrington lends a unique approach to the telling of the story by weaving Oberlander’s biography within the trajectory of modern landscape architecture. The book is based on years of interviews with Oberlander and her clients and collaborators, along with a case-study approach to her projects that considers both their political context as well as public reception. Herrington ties Oberlander’s career to key shifts in the practice of landscape architecture. She organizes the book thematically, beginning with “Housework.” Here she links the foundations of Modernism and its new aesthetic to the social and moral responsibility that imbued Oberlander’s early efforts to give voice to the disenfranchised, through pioneering community design methods for public parks and housing. “Human Environment” tracks Oberlander’s more spatially complex works, her children’s environments and urban landscapes, exploring the relationship between experience, environment and psychology that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, in “Ecological Environment,” Oberlander prioritizes the expression of environmental values in landscape design by marrying its ecological functioning with its aesthetic appreciation. Herrington’s book not only offers a deeper understanding of this transformative figure, but demonstrates how larger movements are rooted in everyday practice and thus shaped by forces not beyond our control.
This catalogue accompanying a recent major exhibition offers a richly illustrated view of art and design culture at a formative stage in Canadian history. The nine essays, including curator Charles Hill’s introduction, contextualize more than 320 objects within a dynamic period of deep interpenetration of the arts. At the turn of the century, divisions between artists, architects and artisans were sometimes blurred, and collaboration was essential. This was evident in buildings ranging from Montreal mansions that incorporated details created by furniture companies, to Muskoka cottages where designer-owners teamed with local carpenters. In major public commissions such as the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, architects Edward and William Maxwell designed every detail down to the furnishings and worked with skilled artisans to realize their designs. Private clubs—from the Toronto Architectural Eighteen Club to the Arts Club of Montreal—played a significant role in fostering a fertile, interdisciplinary arts environment. While the period was important for the development of Canadian nationalism, artists and architects were indebted to international trends and ideas. These include Beaux-Arts training, the Arts and Crafts movement, and City Beautiful schemes. For scholars, the book brings together a wide range of period objects, from pianos to civic plans. Detailed footnotes, biographies, bibliographies and “notices” about important companies of the time make this a valuable resource. For architects, the period’s emphasis on craft and engaging with other visual arts may serve as inspiration. A sense of comprehensiveness (if not necessarily unity) fuelled art and architectural production at the time. The majority of the work presented was produced for society’s top strata, but there are lessons about vision, collaboration, and integration of the arts that could be applied today with great social impact.
Architectures de la connaissance au Québec is the latest in a series of books launched by the School of Architecture at Université Laval to highlight exceptional buildings in Quebec’s architectural landscape. Jacques Plante follows his previous publication on theatres with a similar format: a highly detailed and richly illustrated collection of case studies complemented by 16 essays. Plante analyzes 33 libraries and archive centres from the past 25 years, including projects that were still under construction at the time of publication in 2013 and that have since been completed. Written by a variety of contributors (including architects, artists, librarians and historians), the companion essays provide a range of viewpoints on the design and lived experience of past and current libraries. Plante and his team have clearly spent much time researching the chosen projects. The abundance of details makes for a great reference book, but is sometimes overwhelming. Some repetition in the descriptions, such as the often discussed “Hanganu-esque” spiral staircase, results from the relatively limited number of architects working on such projects in Quebec. Unfortunately, the excellent overall quality of the book is weakened by some odd design decisions, such as a number of thumbnail-sized images too small to be legible, and legends that are sometimes presented on a different page than the related drawings. Plante’s book is an important reminder of the quality and breadth of library projects in Quebec, developed in large part thanks to a significant program of architectural competitions. These innovative library projects have in many cases led to the growth of the same facilities. In expansion projects, architects have succeeded in reacting to rapid changes brought about by information technology and digital transformations—taking these new challenges in stride.
Tanya Southcott is a Montreal-based architect and writer.
of Architecture program at Carleton University.
Michael Windover teaches in the History and Theory
Olivier Vallerand is an architect, educator, and recently completed a PhD in Architecture from McGill University.
canadian architect 09/14
canadian architect 09/14
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Credit: Teeple Architects — Photo Credit: Shai Gil
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Conceptualizing the Technical
Toronto the Good Party
august 6-September 19, 2014
September 11, 2014
The AIBC Gallery features 19 student team projects developed by fourth-term UBC Master of Architecture students, the result of a collaboration with the UBC First Nations House of Learning.
Guests at this event at the Fermenting Cellar celebrate Toronto while contemplating its history and evolution with fellow architects, designers, thinkers and urban-minded people.
The Future of Canada’s Infrastructure September 16-17, 2014
This conference at the Old Mill Inn & Spa in Toronto is an opportunity to learn from international experts on how to generate revenue, address climate change, and implement policy frameworks.
September 14, 2014
The Winnipeg Art Gallery offers a self-guided fundraising tour of some of the city’s most interesting modern houses by local architects and designers in the city’s established neighbourhoods.
august 6-october 30, 2014
The Japan Foundation in Toronto hosts an exhibition of 100 of the finest examples of Japanese design from the 1950s to present day. http://jftor.org
ANDREW KING: TRANS ARCHITECTURE
Vancouver Design Week
September 1-october 10, 2014
September 15-28, 2014
For 14 days, Vancouver becomes a petri dish of design process, practice and perspectives. From talks to tours to exhibits to workshops, design across disciplines opens its doors for conversations, installations and celebrations of all scales.
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Environmental Product Declaration—another first at Owens Corning As a leading global producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass fibre reinforcements, and engineered materials—we are committed to balancing economic growth with social progress and sustainable solutions. Our new Environmental Product Declaration is a component of our stated goal to provide life cycle information on all our core products. www.owenscorning.ca
Ole Schrøder of TREDJE NATUR in Copenhagen lectures at 6:30pm at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. www.daniels.utoronto.ca/events/lectures
Built City@MOV: Fashioning Performance
Winnipeg Design Festival
September 24, 2014
September 17-22, 2014
This is an annual open and public event that aims to share, discuss, promote and celebrate design culture in the province of Manitoba. Lectures, symposiums, installations and exhibits are on offer. www.winnipegdesignfestival.net
This exhibition in the Paul H. Cocker Gallery at Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science examines the intersection of several modes of CannonDesign principal Andrew King’s architectural investigations.
September 23, 2014
Winnipeg Art Gallery Home Tour
Japanese Design Today 100
Ole Schrøder lecture
Circuit Index–Design Montreal September 19, 2014
Design professionals and aficionadoes are invited to embrace the unique and new experience of the design industry through this full day of discoveries, activities and meetings. http://circuit.index-design.ca/en
This 7:00pm event at the Museum of Vancouver showcases the potential of design to effect big changes in personal and public space. www.museumofvancouver.ca
D’Arcy Jones lecture September 25, 2014
D’Arcy Jones, principal of D’Arcy Jones Architecture in Vancouver, lectures at 6:30pm at Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science. For more information about these, and additional listings of canadian and international events, please visit www.canadianarchitect.com
canadian architect 09/14
canadian architect 09/14
Revisiting Mackintosh text
Brian carter Iwan Baan
Tall hollow tubes structure circulation inside the Reid Building, the library wing of charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1896 School of art, with Steven Holl’s project beyond.
Above, left to rigHt
A New buildiNg by SteveN Holl reverSeS tHe StructurAl logic of cHArleS reNNie MAckiNtoSH’S icoNic glASgow ScHool of Art, opeNiNg juSt AS tHe ScHool SufferS A devAStAtiNg fire. The Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1896 when he was 28 years old, referenced traditional Scottish architecture while introducing radical transformations inspired by nature, Japanese culture, plastic form and Art Nouveau. Fanatical in its attention to detail, the building successfully integrated lighting, structure and furniture to create a landmark of Modern architecture. Long a touchstone for architects around the world, including Scottishinfluenced Canada, the Glasgow School recently attracted renewed attention. The completion of the Reid Building—constructed directly opposite Mackintosh’s masterwork—prompted international interest. The first project in Britain by Steven Holl, it provoked media accolades and critiques alike. Shortly after the opening of this new building, a sudden fire threatened to destroy the Mackintosh-designed School of Art. Thanks to the prompt action of emergency services, the fire was confined largely to the western end of the building—but the beautiful library and its collections were lost. Glasgow has long been a city of fine architecture. Prosperity in the 19th century led to significant buildings designed by Alexander Greek Thompson and Mackintosh, while more recently, Norman Foster, David Chipperfield, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas have been commissioned to produce work in the city. Steven Holl is an inspiring addition to that list. Holl has spoken enthusiastically about Mackintosh’s School of Art, which he was first introduced to as a student, prompting subsequent pilgrimages to Glasgow. After receiving the Reid Building commission in 2009, he described Mackintosh’s building as having “thin bones and thick skin” and sought to create a contrast. The development of his new building focused on “thick bones and thin skin.”
Holl’s approach is strikingly different from the literal contextualism that has characterized other new constructions in the city, and that many perhaps anticipated would be repeated on Renfrew Street. This provoked fierce criticism, beginning after the publication of early perspectives. However, for this visitor, the art school’s newest building is convincingly realized. The design centres around a series of “thick bones”—tall circular concrete tubes, angled to funnel daylight into the heart of the school. These skylit openings consolidate a network of paths, ramps and stairs connecting various departments, and create dramatic Piranesian spaces with views to the Mackintosh building opposite. All is enclosed by a “thin skin” of strangely beautiful glass. Nikolaus Pevsner identified Mackintosh as a pioneer of Modern architecture, while Thomas Howarth, a former Dean of Architecture at the University of Toronto and an internationally respected Mackintosh scholar, similarly located his work centrally in the development of Modernism. Another notable critic, Reyner Banham, underlined how Mac kintosh’s design for the Glasgow School of Art “in practically every aspect…balances uneasily between old and new.” In this context, the Reid Building by Steven Holl, which recently received an award for Building of the Year in the United Kingdom, is a remarkably good neighbour. The Glasgow School of Art is making an international appeal for philanthropic support to help in recovery from the fire on May 23, 2014. To find out more, please visit www.gsa.ac.uk/support-gsa/the-mackintosh-appeal/ Brian Carter is a Professor at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. He recently authored a book on the work of BattersbyHowat.
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