Canadian Architect November 2008 Edition

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$6.95 nov/08 v.53 n.11

promenade samuel-de-champlain venice biennale

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Using building information modeling (BIM), architects, engineers and contractors can collaborate to make informed design and construction decisions much earlier in the process.

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Autodesk, NavisWorks, and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at anytime without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document. © 2008 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.

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40 Habitations PrÉfontaine and Rachel A social-housing complex in Montreal’s eastern fringes is the result of collaborative efforts among residents, architects, municipal authorities and a non-profit housing organization. TEXT David Theodore

47 Le MÂt An eight-storey administration and event space tower marks the latest addition to Cirque du Soleil’s impressive Montreal campus. TEXT Rhys Phillips

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contents

15 News

23 Review

54 Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain Contemporary landscape architecture interventions transform Quebec City’s shoreline. TEXT Odile HÉnault

PMB Architects’ expansion to the Rotman K School of Management at the University of Toronto; inaugural World Architecture Festival award winners announced.

Rodney LaTourelle voices his opinion on this year’s Venice Biennale, curated by Aaron Betsky.

33 Report

62 McDonald Drive Condominiums A refreshingly modern condominium complex in Yellowknife ingeniously adapts to its bedrock terrain. TEXT Elsa Lam

John Lorinc delivers an informative account on ambitious plans to overhaul Lawrence Heights, a 41-hectare publichousing complex in north Toronto.

70 Technical anne miller

nne Miller proves to be a strong proponA ent of research and innovation in concrete technology and construction.

81 Calendar

Toplight: Roof Transparencies from 1760 to 1960 at the Canadian Centre for Architecture; 2008 Construct Canada in Toronto.

82 Backpage

NOVEMBER 2008, v.53 n.11

The National Review of Design and Practice/ The Journal of Record of the RAIC

Motivated by the senseless shooting of a young man this past summer in Montreal, Odile Hénault attempts to refocus architectural education on social responsibility and priority neighbourhoods.

The Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain in Quebec City by Daoust Lestage Inc., Williams Asselin Ackaoui and option amÉnagement, in Consortium. Photograph by Marc Cramer. COVER

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ian chodikoff

viewpoint

ABOVE The Venerable Mr. Peanut (a.k.a. Vincent Trasov) ran as a mayoral candidate in the 1974 Vancouver civic election. His silent but dandyish demeanour was part of his “visual questioning” to the other candidates. This magazine cover is part of a recent exhibition of avantgarde magazines on display at the Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver.

Occasionally, the avant-garde is able to provide insight into how media and popular culture can be manipulated to affect our daily lives. An example of this came in the form of Vincent Tra­ sov who, in 1969, transformed the famous icon from Planters Peanuts, Mr. Peanut, into the lead character in an ongoing performance art spec­ tacle. Trasov’s version of Mr. Peanut reached the pinnacle of efficacy during the 1974 Vancouver mayoral elections, when the dandyish nut over­ shadowed other political candidates in the name of art. Remaining silent throughout, Mr. Peanut would merely pose “visual questions” to the other candidates via tap dancing and other gestures. Mr. Peanut ran on a simple political platform: Performance, Elegance, Art, Nonsense, Unique­ ness, and Talent (PEANUT). With the campaign slogan of “elect a nut for mayor,” Mr. Peanut received a respectable 3.4% of the vote, but ultimately lost the election. Trasov’s artistic statement could be viewed as a source of inspira­ tion for architects who are under constant pres­ sure to brand and assert themselves within a competitive system of politics, economics, and creativity. The story and cover image of Mr. Peanut that ran in the April 1972 issue of FILE, a magazine founded by General Idea that same year, was re­cently featured at the Vancouver edition of Clip/ Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X, a travelling exhibition that was cleverly adapted for and exhibited at the Contem­ porary Art Gallery of Vancouver (CAG). Produced

by Princeton architecture professor Beatriz Colo­ mina and her doctoral students, Clip/Stamp/Fold explores the shift in the dissemination of archi­ tectural ideas during the 1960s and ’70s. Vancou­ ver architecture critic Adele Weder was largely res­­ ponsible in bringing the exhibition to the city. From the exhibition, it is readily apparent that the global production of radical architecture magazines during this period was uneven. Coun­ tries like the UK and Italy produced wonderful magazines like ARse and Contropiano, while other nations such as France remained relatively silent. When looking to the US, many architects and editors were instinctively drawn to the West Coast, despite the emergence of an East Coast architectural elite that included Peter Eisenman and Kenneth Frampton, among others. Despite varying degrees of effectiveness contained in each individual magazine, viewers can apply the spirit of the ideas explored to present-day cir­ cumstances. And so, to complement the exhibition held at the CAG this fall, an ambitious series of talks and discussions relating to the exhibition was organ­ ized, in which many ideas were debated. For instance, in the context of Vancouver today, Clip/ Stamp/Fold offers an opportunity to do a little bit of soul-searching regarding the history of the West Coast avant-garde. In the opinion of some, like Andrew Gruft, the enthusiastic but irascible retired professor of architecture, there were no radical architecture magazines on the West Coast during the ’60s and ’70s—possibly because many practitioners were too busy running their thriv­ ing offices. However, if one looks beyond con­ ventional forms of architectural media, other aspects of the West Coast avant-garde surface. For instance, what about the work of Robert Kleyn who, along with Rodney Graham, Duane Lunden and Frank Johnson produced Architecture of the Fraser Valley (1972), a publication intent on documenting the disappearing pioneer buildings of the Fraser Valley? The magazine was radical insofar as it revealed a “culturescape” that was one part psychogeographic dérive, one part heritage preservation treatise. Magazines such as FILE or Architecture of the Fraser Valley suggest radical interventions in the public realm, inspir­ ing architects to engage, politicize and provide alternative positions to the status quo. Including Trasov’s Mr. Peanut within the con­ text of Clip/Stamp/Fold demonstrates how sur­ prisingly effective performance art can be in not only garnering tremendous mass appeal, but in allowing us to reconsider the formal constraints of local politics. This and many other lessons contained in the exhibition remind architects to think laterally, to reach beyond the strict bound­ aries of architectural media and to be inspired by a variety of forms of creative expression that can be applied to daily practice. Ian Chodikoff

­­Editor Ian Chodikoff, OAA, MRAIC Associate Editor Leslie Jen, MRAIC Editorial Advisors John McMinn, AADipl. Marco Polo, OAA, MRAIC Charles Waldheim, OALA(Hon.), FAAR Contributing Editors Gavin Affleck, OAQ, MRAIC Herbert Enns, MAA, MRAIC Douglas MacLeod, ncarb Regional Correspondents Halifax Christine Macy, OAA Montreal David Theodore Winnipeg Herbert Enns, MAA Regina Bernard Flaman, SAA Calgary David A. Down, AAA Edmonton Brian Allsopp, AAA Publisher Tom Arkell 416-510-6806 Sales Manager greg paliouras 416-510-6808 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 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M3C 4J2 Telephone 416-510-6845 Facsimile 416-510-5140 E-mail editors@canadianarchitect.com Web site www.canadianarchitect.com Canadian Architect is published monthly by Business Information Group, a division of BIG Magazines LP, a leading Cana­dian information company with interests in daily and community news­papers and business-to-business 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: $51.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $81.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (GST – #809751274RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (prepaid with student I.D., includes taxes): $32.50 for one year. USA: $101.95 U.S. for one year. All other foreign: $101.95 U.S. per year. US office of publication: 2424 Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY 143045709. Periodicals Postage Paid at Niagara Falls, NY. USPS #009-192. US postmaster: Send address changes to Canadian Architect, PO Box 1118, Niagara Falls, NY 14304. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2. 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 privacyofficer@businessinformationgroup.ca Mail Privacy Officer, Business Information Group, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2 Member of the Canadian Business Press Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations Publications Mail Agreement #40069240 ISSN 0008-2872

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news Projects KPMB designs expansion to University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Scheduled to open in 2011, the expansion to U of T’s Rotman School of Management is designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB) and will be fully integrated with the current building at 105 St. George Street in downtown Toronto. The new building will house the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking, the Lloyd and Delphine Martin Prosperity Institute, other research programs and Centres of Excellence, classrooms, study space and a 400-seat event space. Some of its features include a series of horizontal and vertical connections between the existing and new buildings to facilitate the flow of people; a multi-storey glass structure; several green roofs; a main-floor cafeteria for students and staff; and a state-of-the-art event space on the second floor. “The exciting new space designed by KPMB Architects will enable us to expand our graduate programs over four years by increasing enrollment in our MBA Program by 33 percent, and growing the number of students in our PhD program by 28 percent,” says Dean of the School, Professor Roger Martin. To accommodate recent and future planned growth, the School has undertaken an expansion of its facilities that will provide approximately 15,000 gross square metres of new space. The new build­ ing is the centrepiece of a $120-million capital, re­­search and education project to en­­hance the competitiveness of Ontario and Canada on the global stage, which was kickstarted in March 2007 when the Province of Ontario pledged $50 million toward it. An additional $10 million in federal funding has since been allocated, and individuals such as Sandra and Joseph Rotman, Marcel Desautels and the Canadian Credit Man­ age­ment Foundation and others have made major gifts to the project. www.rotman.utoronto.ca/expansion Kasian selected to redesign Edmonton landmark.

Global design firm Kasian has been selected to lead the design of the Federal Building and Centennial Plaza project in Edmonton. The existing landmark building, originally constructed in 1958, has been unoccupied since 1989. It will undergo a contemporary transformation that will give it new purpose and reconnect it with the city. The design will focus on preservation and sustainability while drawing inspiration from the Art Deco style of the original architecture. The commission was awarded by Alberta Infrastructure after a public competition process. The project, situated on the Edmonton Legislature grounds, includes the rejuvenation of the Federal Building, a new 650-stall underground parkade, and a new public plaza that will extend the grounds to

Designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is about to begin an ambitious expansion of its current facilities. ABOVE

99th Avenue. The project is scheduled for completion at the end of 2011. Kasian has assembled a world-class team including heritage architects and conservation specialists Goldsmith Borgal and Company Architects along with urban design and planning specialists Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Planners.

includes upgrades to the administrative offices, the Marvin Gerstein Conference Room and new graduate and group study space on the second floor of the Heritage Wing. Principal Gary McCluskie, associate Branka Gazibara and architect Steven Bondar lead the Diamond and Schmitt team.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects renovate and renew University of Toronto landmark.

Awards

Diamond and Schmitt Architects have renovated and renewed the Gerstein Reading Room in the University of Toronto’s Gerstein Science Information Centre, revealing the room’s stunning ceiling and architectural features. A dropped ceiling had hidden the room’s hand-carved wood trusses, rafters and a dramatic glass skylight for almost 100 years. Diamond and Schmitt Architects discovered the spectacular ceiling after they were commissioned to renovate the heritage wing of the library, constructed in 1892. “No one at the University could remember the ceiling ever being exposed and after some digging we discovered it was covered up during a renovation in the early 1900s. At that time metal cross-bracing was installed to support the ceiling trusses,” says Diamond and Schmitt principal Gary McCluskie. Despite being unseen for almost a century, the ceiling was in remarkable condition. Structural beams, arches and trusses were stabilized and where needed, reinforced. The neo-Gothic carved details of the woodwork—arches, columns, rafters and repetitive decorative details—were cleaned and are now visible from below. The Reading Room includes study space for 100 people with new lighting, furniture and shelving. This renovation is part of a larger transformation of the original University Library, which also

Canadian winners of the 2008 International Architecture Awards announced.

The International Architecture Awards is the only global awards program in architecture of its kind, which was conceived and presented by the Chi­ cago Athenaeum in partnership with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies to give an important overview of design and architecture on a world scale. The awards program draws important public and professional focus for the celebration and recognition of the most important key buildings produced in this decade. All submitted projects were designed by architects in their respective countries of origin or abroad for both built and un­­ built projects alike, as of January 1, 2004. This year’s jury session took place in New York with the assistance of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and included: Rick Bell, Executive Director, New York Chapter/ American Institute of Architects, New York; Joseph E. MacIsaac, President, Knoll International, New York; Henry Smith-Miller, SmithMiller + Hawkinson, New York; David J. Weiner, David Jay Weiner Architects, New York; and Michael Manfredi, Weiss/Manfredi, New York. Five Canadian projects were recognized in this year’s awards, and are as follows: the Four Sea11/08 canadian architect

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sons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, Ontario by Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc.; the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Ontario by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects; the Killbear Visitor Centre in Nobel, Ontario by HOK Architects; the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario by Saucier + Perrotte Architectes; and the Pierre Dan­se­ reau Science Complex in Montreal, Quebec by Saia Barbarese Topouzanov Architectes. http://chi-athenaeum.org/intarch/2008/index.html Award winners of the inaugural World Architecture Festival announced.

Seventeen category winners at the World Architecture Festival were recently announced, and are listed as follows: in the Civic category, the winner is the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center (GZBICC) in China by Buro II of Belgium, while the winning submission in the Culture category is the Oslo Operahouse in Norway by SNØHETTA, Norway. Landscape Restoration of the Controlled Rubbish Dump “La Vall d’en Joan” in Spain by Batlle & Roig Architects, Landscape Architect, Spain, won in the Energy, Waste and Recycling category, and in the Health category, the winner is the Centre pour le Bienêtre des Femmes et la prévention des mutilations génitales féminines “G.Kambou” in Burkina Faso by FAREstudio, Italy. The winner of the Holiday category is the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Canada by Hotson Bakker Boni-

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face Haden Architects, Canada. Mountain Dwellings in Denmark by BIG—Bjarke Ingels Group, Denmark, won in the Housing category, followed by the Università Luigi Bocconi in Italy by Grafton Architects, Ireland in the Learning category. The Olympic Sculp­ture Park at the Seattle Art Museum in the USA by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, USA won in the Nature category, while the winner in the New & Old category is the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian Institution in the USA by Foster + Partners, UK. The Office category award was given to the Duoc Corporate Building in Chile by Sabbagh Arquitectos, Chile, and the Sheep Stable in the Netherlands by 70F Architecture, Netherlands is the winning submission in the Pleasure category. BMW Welt— Event, Exhibition and Automobile Delivery Centre in Germany by Coop Him­mel­b(l)au, Austria won in the Production category, followed by the Dornbusch Church in Germany by Meixner Schlüter Wendt Architekten, Germany, winner in the Religion & Contemplation category. In the Sport category, Sports Hall Bale in Croatia by 3LHD Architects, Croatia won the top award, and K:fem in Sweden by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB, Sweden, won in the Shopping category. The Final Wooden House in Japan by Sou Fujimoto Architects, Japan, captured the top prize in the Private Houses category, while the last and 17th category, Transport, was won by Nordpark Cable Railway in Austria by Zaha Hadid Architects, UK.

Of these 17 winners, the jury selected Grafton Architects’ new faculty building for the Luigi Bocconi University in Milan as the first World Building of the Year. Holcim Awards winners for North America announced.

The winners of the second North American Holcim Awards competition for Sustainable Construction projects were announced at a ceremony in Montreal. Total prize money of $270,000 US was presented to nine projects from Canada and the United States that showcase the latest ap­­proaches to address critical topics including housing affordability, employment, renewable energy, and water efficiency. The competition is run in parallel in five regions of the world by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. The Holcim Gold Award of $100,000 US was given to the Solar 2 Green Energy, Arts and Education Center in New York submitted by Christopher J. Collins, Solar One Green Energy, Arts and Education Center in New York. The Holcim Silver Award of $50,000 US was be­­stowed upon the SelfContained Day Labor Station in San Francisco by designer Liz Ogbu of Public Architecture in San Francisco. And the Holcim Bronze Award of $25,000 US was given to the Living with Lakes Centre for Freshwater Restoration and Research in Sudbury, Ontario, submitted by scientist John Gunn of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

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Three Holcim Acknowledgement Prizes of $20,000 US each were awarded to: the Evergreen Brick Works Heritage Site Revitalization in Toronto, Ontario (submitted by urban planner David Stonehouse of Evergreen in Toronto); Minimal-Impact North Vancouver Outdoor School in North Vancouver, BC (submitted by architects Ron Kato, Larry McFar­­­land and Craig Duffield of Larry McFarland Architects in Vancouver); and the Strategy for Environmentally Friendly Integration of Beehives in Detroit, Michi­­­­g­an (submitted by architect Stéphane Orsolini and engineer Erika Mayr of Berlin, Germany). The Holcim “Next Generation” 1st Prize of $20,000 US was given to Microstructure Re­­search for Building Skins in Cambridge, Massachusetts, submitted by architect Neri Oxman of MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and engineer John Hart of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Holcim “Next Generation” 2nd Prize of $10,000 US was scooped by Residential Density for Urban Spaces in Toronto, Ontario, submitted by architects Chenlong Wang and Lingchen Liu of Beijing, China. And finally, the Holcim “Next Generation” 3rd Prize of $5,000 US was awarded to the Responsive Urban Downtown Activity Center in Boston, Massachusetts, submitted by student Andrew Lantz of the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Competition submissions for projects in region North America were evaluated by an independent jury hosted by

MIT: Adèle Naudé Santos (Head of Jury, USA), Philippe Arto (Canada), Ray Cole (Canada), Sarah Graham (USA), Reed Kroloff (USA), Mohsen Mostafavi (USA), Hans-Rudolf Schalcher (Switzerland), Marion Weiss (USA) and Mark West (Canada). Gold, silver and bronze prize winners from each region automatically qualify for the global Holcim Awards competition. The projects will be further evaluated by a global jury and the winners announced in Switzerland in May 2009. The Holcim Awards is an international competition of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. www.holcimawards.org 2008 ARIDO Awards of Excellence announced.

The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) has announced the winners of its 24th annual ARIDO Awards of Excellence. Judges of this year’s entries recognized 23 designs from 11 separate categories. Among the winning entries were six Awards of Excellence and 17 Awards of Merit. The projects of this year’s recipients speak to every space imaginable, demonstrating that good design can be employed wherever we live, work and play. From hospitality to health care, corporate to residential, this is demonstrated by each of the six Awards of Excellence. Three of these projects highlighted the outstanding work in the corporate sector, with two awards given to Dean Matsumoto of Kasian

Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd. for his work on their Toronto office and within it, a special collaborative work and social gathering space—anchored by a stainless steel light table— known as the Touchdown area. Also representing excellence in corporate interior design is Sharon Martens of Martens Group Licensed Interior Design Studio, whose work for the Pengrowth Corporation illustrates an un­­expected contemporary approach to embracing traditionalism in the workplace. Martens also received an Award of Merit for custom lighting design that was created for the space. Re­­mark­­able work also emerged from the residential sector, with two projects looking to en­­hance the way we live. An Award of Excellence went to Connie Braemar’s (of Connie Braemar Design) spectacularly executed Osler Chalet, which married and trans­ported two log cabins. Another Award of Excellence went to Elaine Cecconi for her own private residence that is indicative of her talents and those of her firm Cecconi Simone. Her business partner Anna Simone also took home an Award of Merit in the residential category, for her Carport and Green Roof project. The sixth Award of Excellence was handed out to Fang-Pin Lee of Reich + Petch Design International, for Butterflies and Plants, Partners in Evolution. This educational institution playfully tackles the biology of butterflies and through its design, engages adults and children alike. www.arido.ca

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Recipients of 2008 Heritage Toronto Awards announced.

Heritage Toronto announced the recipients for the 34th Annual Heritage Toronto Awards, which celebrate outstanding contributions by individuals and community organizations, as well as industry professionals and associations, in promoting and conserving Toronto’s history and heritage landmarks. The William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship Awards honour projects that include restoration or the preservation and reuse of buildings or structures, showing the application of sound conservation principles, displaying skilled craftsmanship and an appropriate use of materials. In this category, the Award of Excellence went to King Parliament Square by PDA Architects and to the Wesley Building at 299 Queen Street West by E.R.A. Architects Inc. The Canadian Volunteers Memorial on Queen’s Park Crescent West by Spencer R. Higgins Architect Inc. captured the Award of Merit, while an Honourable Mention went to the Regal Road Public School Portico by E.R.A. Archi­ tects Inc. The Book category recognizes wellwritten non-fiction books published in 2007 that explore Toronto’s archaeological, built, cultural and/or natural heritage and history. The Award of Excellence went to Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies, edited by Michael McClelland and Graeme Stewart. Two Awards of Merit went to The Great Adventure: 100 Years at the Arts & Letters Club by

Margaret McBurney and to I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad by Karolyn Smardz Frost. In the Media category, the Distillery District Heritage website (www. distilleryheritage.com) by Sally Gibson/Thane Lucas Digital Art captured the Award of Excellence, followed by “What Lies Beneath” in The National Post by Scott Weir (editor Shari Kulha), who won the Award of Merit. The Community Heritage Award recipients were the Cabbagetown/Regent Park Community Museum, the O’Connor Irish Heritage House, and the Scarborough Historical Society. And lastly, the 2008 Members’ Choice Award was presented to the Cabbagetown/Regent Park Community Museum. www.heritagetoronto.org

Properties, the contractor, Kajima (UK), the local planning office and all three architects had high ambitions for an exemplary urban community. It acknowledges that adults and children have different needs: there is flexibility for spaces to be adapted as studios, offices, granny annexes and playrooms. The award was sponsored by the Architects’ Journal and the judges included: architect Eva Jiricna of Eva Jiricna Architects; architect Gordon Murray of Murray Dunlop Architects; architect Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects; Kieran Long, editor of The Architects’ Journal; and garden de­­signer Diarmuid Gavin of Diarmuid Gavin Designs.

Winner of 2008 Stirling Prize announced.

CS&P Architects selected as winner of the Huron-Willcocks Pedestrianization Design Competition.

The UK’s most prestigious architectural award for the Best Building in the UK went to Accordia in Cambridge designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects. The project is a strategically important new residential quarter, sited on Cambridge’s last major undeveloped brownfield site in a key position between the city and open fields. The scheme successfully demonstrates that it is possible for a volume house-builder to support high-quality architecture and is regarded as setting new standards for large-scale housing design in the UK. The scheme includes 35% affordable housing. The client, Countryside

Competitions

CS&P Architects Inc.’s submission for the University of Toronto’s Huron-Willcocks Pedestrianization Charrette has been chosen as the winning entrant for the revisioning of this important precinct on the St. George Campus. The intersection is extended through design and material changes to St. George Street and the surrounding buildings. Bringing together key academic, domestic, and social facilities will create a Student Commons—a dynamic space of convergence where distinct landscape and pedestrian routes are reconnected. A number of design

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measures and new activities have been introduced such as: the greening of both streets with LED lighting; wider sidewalks and more tree planting; replacing car parking on both streets with bicycle lanes and more bike racks; converting the Lash Miller lawn into an attractive stormwater pond that can be used as a winter skating rink; enlarging and integrating the café patio level with the street level; sloping the Sidney Smith lawn to connect with a new greened roof terrace and pergola; improving pedestrian accessibility with new ramps and bench seating; and providing seating opportunities for everyday use or special events with amphitheatre steps that connect to the terrace.

What’s New [bracket] launches and issues a call for entries.

[bracket] is an annual publication documenting issues overlooked yet central to our cultural milieu that have evolved out of the new disci­plin­ ary terri­tory at the intersection of architecture, landscape, urbanism, and now, the Internet. It is no co­­inci­dence that the professional term “archi­ tect” can also now refer to information archi­tects, and that the word “community” can also now refer to an online community. [bracket] is a publishing plat­form for ideas charting the com­plex overlap of the sphere of architecture and online social spheres. Seeking new voices and talent, [bracket]

is struc­tured around an open call for entries. The series will look at thematics in our age of global­ ization that are shaping the built environment in radically significant and yet unexpected ways. The first issue, entitled On Farming, has just opened its call for entries from which select projects and texts will be published in Fall 2009. Please visit the website for a des­crip­tion of the theme, jurors, submission details, schedule, and how to join the [bracket] news­letter. www.brkt.org

Montréal will present exclusive tours and exhibitions of their private Art Deco collections. The Congress will close with a spectacular event at the Lion d'Or, a true relic from Montreal's illustrious Jazz era. There will be day tours to Ottawa and the Eastern Townships, and pre- and post-congresses in Toronto and Quebec City respectively. http://artdecomontreal.com/congress/en/

Call for papers for the 10th World Congress on Art Deco.

Using high-powered theatrical lighting, British Columbian multi-media artist Marianne Nicol­ son has transformed the Gallery's Georgia Street architecture into a spectacular reimagining of a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw ceremonial house. Glowing with increased intensity as day gives way to night, the more than 30-foot-wide sitespecific projection titled The House of the Ghosts runs until January 11, 2009. By imposing the imagery of the traditional Kwakwaka'wakw big­ house on the pillars and lintel of the building, Nicolson symbolizes the survival of Pacific North­ west Coast First Nations cultures and com­mu­ni­ ties, despite active efforts to suppress and eradi­ cate them. The House of the Ghosts is the eighth work presented as a part of NEXT, a series of artist projects from the Pacific Rim. The series high­lights work pre­viously unseen in Van­couver and seeks to engage the diverse prac­tices of Pacific Rim artists.

Art Déco Montréal is pleased to announce that the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies (ICADS) has awarded Art Déco Montréal the honour of hosting the 10th World Congress on Art Deco which will take place in Montreal from May 24-30, 2009. The Committee of Art Déco Montréal is presently welcoming papers on any aspect of Art Deco; emphasis throughout the Congress will be on Montreal and Canadian Art Deco. Throughout the Congress, guided tours will acquaint dele­gates with Montreal's Art Deco landmarks, in­­clud­ing the Montreal Botanical Gardens, Université de Montréal, Saint Joseph's Oratory, Aldred Building, Atwater Market and Eaton's 9th Floor Restaurant and Lounge. Also, curators at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the McGill University Library and the Université de

Vancouver Art Gallery transformed into Northwest Coast ceremonial house.

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review

camera photo arte/la biennale dI venezia

HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

Despite glimmers of hope emerging from the 11th Venice Biennale in Architecture, iT’s clear that a new rethink is required to return this auspicious global architecture exhibition to its former glory.

text

ABOVE Toronto-based An Te Liu submitted Cloud to this year’s Biennale, which is comprised of air purifiers, ionizers, sterilizers, washers, humidifiers and ozone air cleaners that run continuously.

Rodney Latourelle

In contrast to the previous edition, the 11th Venice Biennale in Architecture is marked by an incredibly diverse and yet inherently contradictory collection of architectural display. In 2006, curator Richard Burdett’s theme of Cities, Architecture and Society became a productive locus around which to evolve a discussion that went beyond the object to include a range of social dynamics. This year, Aaron Betsky’s Out There: Architecture Beyond Building concentrates an experimental agenda, presenting many of the most excep-

tional practitioners of today. Its lack of focus and predictable inclusion of overscaled celebrity-architect installations ultimately makes its “visionary” proposition difficult to maintain. That said, this year’s exhibition certainly provides a lively framework for current architectural debates. Produced by a range of offices from Asymptote to Zaha Hadid, many of the installations at the main venue, the Arsenale, not only seem dated from the ’90s , but contribute little more than an inconsequential prowess. To 11/08­ canadian architect

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diller scofidio + renfrO giorgio zucchiati

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Chain City attempts to describe the desire to reproduce the photogenic nature of Venice around the world; Hotel Polonia, or The Afterlife of Buildings won a Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale for its whimsical, yet intelligent approach to viewing architecture in the context of what was—until recently—a global surge in economic activity and real-estate speculation. opposite Visitors TAKE delight in the cross-country checkup of Canada’s sustainable architecture in 41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada­—-Region, Culture, Tectonics, curated by Marco Polo and John McMinn. above, TOP TO BOTTOM

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mike curran

Betsky’s credit however, there are thankfully a few exceptions in this extensive exhibition, such as Philippe Rahm, An Te Liu, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, all of whose works are not only formally sophisticated but conceptually resonant. Using Venice as a case study in cultural tourism and to investigate questions of spatial representation, Diller Scofidio + Renfro present two large-screen videos depicting tours through Venice simulations built in Las Vegas and Macau. Filmed from the perspective of a quintessential gondola ride, the naturally illusory quality of the city lends itself readily to the strange feeling of displacement engendered by these double fantasies. Philippe Rahm’s preoccupation with the relation between climate, atmosphere and architecture is continued in the form of two minimal platforms offset from one another, the upper one heated to 12 degrees, the lower one to 28 degrees, which creates a continuous air flow using convection currents. With a neo-hippie sensibility, various clothed and unclothed actors articulated this architecture without walls at the exhibition opening, concentrating the ambiguous environmental metaphor and phenomenal conditions. While immersive installations like the above truly do provide alternative constructions “beyond building,” many of the works fail to formulate critical questions. Hani Rashid and Lise-Anne Couture, the Canadian-born duo that head Asymptote, exhibit a version of their retro-futuristic, modular blob furniture that is in fact much more luxury fetish than innovative spatial probe. However, fellow Canadian—An Te Liu—with whom they share one of the very first rooms in the Arsenale exhibition, succeeds in combining formal ingenuity with conceptual clarity. His installation, Cloud, is made up of over 100 domestic air purification appliances hung in elegant cluster formations. Appearing as part Metabolist megastructure, part Battlestar Gallactica spacecraft, Cloud’s humming topography of domestic devices might be seen as a simultaneous parody and homage to the hygienic aspirations of early Modernism. Liu locates these altruistic ambitions not at an architectural scale but in the range of contemporary household devices that reveal a

particular psychological dimension to the call for light, space, and air. The installation is not only tightly composed and formally pleasing, but provokes a range of associations and responses, able to suggest the hope and fear inherent in Modernism’s continuing legacy. In fact, Liu began working with air-conditioning units around 1995, just after Todd Hayne’s film Safe was released, which depicted the psychological consequences of environmental illness. I am also reminded of David Cronenberg’s first feature film, They Came From Within, set in a sterile and isolated modern apartment complex, where parasites travel through the modern conveniences of plumbing, garbage disposal, and air-conditioning ducts to infect tenants with a zombie-like lust for sex. The floating air cleaners connect notions of cleanliness to the characteristic purity of form initiated by modern architecture and urbanism, and while Cloud’s sci-fi superstructure articulates a gravity-defying optimism, it also embodies a darker, contemporary consumerist obsession, fuelled by corporeal paranoia. This duality of formal ingenuity and a response to social concerns is analogous to the Biennale’s thematic exhibition, which takes place at two main sites. In collaboration with Emiliano Gandolfi, Betsky’s curation at the Italian pavilion is a well-chosen relief to the overscaled ambitions that are typical of the Arsenale. While a bit exhausting to take in on one visit, this tightly woven series of predominantly smaller-scale installations, videos, and exhibits from a variety of practitioners, presents a wide range of compelling experiences that concern a plethora of experimental yet germane discourses, from raw formal studies, to social and media relationships, and an almost utopian environmentalism. Beside a recent video interview with Archigram’s Dennis Crompton, Raumlabor presents Stick On City, a large drawing of iconic projects and existing visionary proposals composed among an imaginary landscape. The visitor is encouraged to sketch his or her own utopian contribution, and stick it right on the drawing, thus creating a participatory yet informal discussion about architecture’s communal dreams. While many of the installations at the Arsenale seem to interpret 11/08­ canadian architect

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mike curran mike curran

mike curran

the theme of “experimental” in largely formal terms, numerous works at the Italian pavilion possess a critical edge, revealing that “business as usual” is no longer the case, while attempting to critique existing professional forms or constructing new relationships to environmental, economic, or social issues. Considering the fragility of the global state of affairs today, and the fact that the number one cause of climate change is architecture, it is not surprising that this concern for current crises is also essential to many of the national pavilions located nearby in the Giardini. The pavilions are curated separately from the main thematic, and they range from representational collections to a variety of poetic and political statements. At the Japanese pavilion, architect Junya Ishigami elegantly engages landscape and architecture using rectangular glass pavilions where plants and structural elements intertwine. Hundreds of elaborate botanical drawings are softly sketched directly on the walls inside the permanent pavilion. Nearby, a bright yellow, full-scale representation of a gas pipeline connects the Russian and German pavilions. Lacking a permanent pavilion, Estonians Maarja Kask, Neeme Kulm and Ralf Looke directly confront the prime issues of energy and economy in relation to building with this installation that refers to a proposed Gazprom initiative that is ecologically and politically controversial. Titled 1907...After the Party, the Belgian pavilion is the most radical proposition, provocatively constructing a post-euphoric sentiment that could be interpreted in many ways, including a tribute to the historical pavilion which was built in 1907. The pavilion is hidden from view by a seven-metre-high scaffold-like structure faced in galvanized steel that is simultaneously a circuitous entrance ramp. At the time I visited, it was pretty much empty inside the well-designed original structure, save for thick drifts of confetti on the floor, a single similarly themed Thomas Demand photograph, and a small collection of the competition entries for the original building. Phenomenologically rich and conceptually taut, this is probably the most memorable experience Various installation photographs of 41° to 66° indicate the difficulties of mounting an impactful exhibition at the Canadian pavilion. Designed and built between 1956-1957 by BBPR, the Canadian Pavilion was inaugurated in 1958. constructed on the little hill of San Antonio and located between the British and German Pavilions, the Canadian structure had to respect the surrounding NATURAL PLANTINGS TO THE EXTENT OF ENCAPSULATING ONE OF THE TREES in the middle of the pavilion. Designed to disappear into the landscape, the pavilion has an octagonal shape, brick walls and metallic roof beams, supported by a central concrete column. LEFT, TOP TO BOTTOM

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mike curran

A visitor experiences the interactive video component of 41° to 66° at the Canadian pavilion; the poster for the 11th Venice Biennale; Philippe Rahm’s Installation Syd Matters involved a performance component during the opening of the exhibition WHICH LASTED from September 10 to 12.

ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT

at the Biennale. It is enjoyable, fresh, and thought-provoking. The nearby Dutch pavilion challenges the concept of representational display by hosting a week-long series of lectures, workshops and meetings in preparation for a magazine designed on site. The Americans focus on socially responsible, participatory design, featuring buildings by activist-architects such as Alabama’s Rural Studio. The Polish pavilion presents The Afterlife of Buildings by Nicolas Grospierre and Kobas Laksa, a series of images of new structures in Warsaw along with Photoshopped projections of what they will look like in 2050. Included is a Norman Foster steel-andglass block portrayed as an overrun prison, and an SOM office tower as a worn factory beneath a massive highway overpass. Winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best National Participation, the exhibition’s straightforward apocalyptic tone achieves an ironic yet melancholy sociopolitical critique. While this dystopian sentiment turns out to be one of the underlying impressions at the Biennale, Canada’s contribution, 41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada—Region, Culture, Tectonics, curated by Marco Polo and John McMinn, relates to the numerous approaches searching for alternative cultural models and construction methods. Initially created for Cambridge Galleries in 2005, 41° to 66° is a survey exhibition presenting regional examples of sustainable architecture in the context of vernacular and indigenous traditions, and in relation to local culture and geography (see CA, January 2006). Employing a variety of media including interactive video, graphic panels that also incorporate models, a landscape diorama, and other projections, the curators also reconfigure the existing exhibition by including four new projects. Yet in the Biennale context,

41° to 66° does not stand out as innovative, and its mandate to portray the links between sustainable technology and references to local culture and building tradition is not facilitated by its crowded and confusing installation. Although the issue of sustainability is undeniably important and timely—especially considering Canada’s extremely poor environmental record—a number of excellent examples are presented, although there are too many projects here to get a sense of the uniqueness of these buildings. While it is certainly debatable whether or not 41° to 66° was the best choice for the Canadian pavilion, it was selected by the Canada Council only after the two initial proposals formally submitted to the jury were passed over, and it is rather unique with respect to the contemporary Canadian architectural scene. Exploring the breadth and diversity of the country, the curatorial approach also reinforces the connection between regional strategies and sustainability. This regional approach points out the characteristic multiplicity in Canada necessitated by the vast geography, but in terms of Canadian culture, the fact that there are so few exhibitions such as this one reveals our characteristic lack of communication between regions and an ongoing provincialism. Moreover, the surprising dearth of entries to represent Canada in Venice may indicate the underfunding provided to this initiative, but also seems to point out a seriously deficient vitality at this level. At the building level however, there are some interesting things going on. From Koba­yashi + Zedda in Whitehorse to Atelier Big City in Montreal, the question of reconciling sustainable design with aesthetics is well represented. In Winnipeg, the Manitoba Hydro Head Office—designed by a team led by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects—is a large-

scale application of an innovative double-glass curtain wall, a solar chimney design, and a geothermal heat pump system, all combined with an iconic form that will be very interesting to see when completed. Another new addition for the Venice exhibition, the Pictou Landing Health Centre for a Mi’kmaq First Nations Reserve in Nova Scotia by Piskwepaq Design Inc. (designed by Richard Kroeker and Brian Lilley in collaboration with Peter Henry Architects) also employs a geothermal heat pump system for heating and cooling, while engaging another important principle in terms of sustainability: using local solutions to local problems. The Health Centre’s structural system uses a traditional aboriginal technique of bending and tying wood to create a unique bowed truss arrangement. Constructed in cooperation with Mi’kmaq builders, Kroeker and Lilley’s community-oriented design process produced a much-needed building that benefits from a characteristic form both aesthetically pleasing and socially engaged. CA Rodney LaTourelle is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin and Winnipeg.

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report

Don’t Fence Me In

Lawrence Heights, A 41-hectare puBlic housing project in Toronto, is poised for a complete overhaul to upgrade its housing stock and improve access to services.

TEXT

The Allen Expressway cuts right through Toronto’s Lawrence Heights community, creating a significant design obstacle for the community to implement new planning strategies. ABOVE

John Lorinc toronto community housing

photos

On a sultry June day, Lorne Cappe and Mark Sterling are wandering among the cul-de-sacs and neglected parks of Lawrence Heights, an unexpectedly tranquil public housing complex distributed over a 41-hectare oval near the intersection of Toronto’s Highway 401 and the Allen Expressway. Sterling, a partner with Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects, points out apartments without vents, the proliferation of chain-link fence and mysterious mounds of fill at the edges of playgrounds. “It’s a late application of the Garden City idea with somewhat unfortunate results,” muses Sterling. Cappe, an architect and planner with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), pauses in front of a townhouse whose front stoop is a muddy pit—evidence, he says, of the chronic plumbing and drainage problems that afflict the 1,200-unit complex. An older man, heading home with a grocery bag in hand, calls out a greeting to Cappe and Sterling, who heads a TCHC consulting team. “You know how long that’s been there?” he asks, pointing at the hole. “All winter!” Merv Bowles tells them he’s lived in Lawrence Heights since the late 1970s. A retired truck driver, he’d raised five children, avoided trouble and was grateful to the public housing agency for helping him out in

tough times. He’s seen many changes in 31 years here. When he and his wife arrived, there were two black families. “As the white families moved out, the Jamaicans moved in,” he says. “Now the Jamaicans are moving out and the Somalis are moving in.” Soon, Bowles will join the exodus, relocating to Pickering, east of Toronto. Bowles, however, will likely miss the most profound change to sweep over Lawrence Heights since it was built on farmland in the 1950s. Over the next decade or so, the TCHC plans to dramatically redevelop the area, as is now happening with Regent Park, another troubled public housing complex in downtown Toronto. The project’s planning stage, which formally began this spring, will see existing walk-up apartments and townhouses razed to make way for a denser concentration of subsidized and market housing, as well as new schools, parks, streets, community agencies and commercial spaces. Tenants are terrified that everything will be razed immediately, yet they will be secure in their homes until new buildings are constructed in 2011. At present, the TCHC hasn’t disclosed the projected number of new units or the estimated value of the redevelopment, but the figure will almost certainly be in the hundreds of mil-

lions of dollars. TCHC officials say several architectural firms will be awarded the commissions in an effort to create visual diversity, although there will be a strong emphasis on energy-efficient, sustainable design. At the same time, the City of Toronto will be looking to link Lawrence Heights to abutting residential and commercial areas as part of a new secondary plan, which was also initiated this spring. For decades, in fact, the residents of Lawrence Heights have been literally fenced in— “purposeful isolation,” as Cappe puts it. The goal of this massive undertaking is all about erasing corrosive urban borders and re-establishing Lawrence Heights as a “mixed-income, mixedtenure, mixed-use community,” says Mark Guslits, the TCHC head of development. In other words, “a fairly typical Toronto neighbourhood.” By the latest count, Lawrence Heights is home to about 3,000 people, almost half of whom are under 16. Most families are very poor, with average incomes hovering in the $15,000 range. The area is comprised of neglected walk-ups and townhouse complexes connected by a warren of dead-ends and a ring road that is not linked to any of the neighbouring residential streets. There are five schools, most of them drastically underutilized, as well as a community centre and a clinic. There is not one shop in the entire complex and pedestrian connections to nearby retail outlets are dicey, which means the residents depend heavily on their vehicles. For many years, Lawrence Heights, designated as one of Toronto’s “priority” neighbourhoods, has had more than its fair share of violent crime, the latest case being the horrific execution-style shooting of six Somali-Canadian teens last March. The stigma of the address is such that young people who live in Lawrence Heights are often excluded from part-time jobs at Yorkdale Mall. The existing housing stock, though not outwardly crumbling, has not aged well and would be difficult to renovate. In fact, some 1950s- and 1960s-vintage public housing projects were deliberately built with substandard construction techniques to make them “less socially desirable” as a matter of policy, according to archival documents from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Sterling says most buildings have leaking roofs, mold, and rickety boilers. In the walk-ups, the hallways tend to be narrow and the units lack balconies, even though residents like the layouts. “And,” as Sterling notes, “there’s not one elevator in the entire community.” While Lawrence Heights is situated between two subway stops (Lawrence West and Yorkdale, both on the Spadina line), access to either is difficult due to the divisive presence of the Allen Expressway, which slices through the middle of the area, dividing it into two halves known locally as Canada and America. According to urban legend, the Canadian side has all the social servi11/08­ canadian architect

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This 1964 map illustrates the beginning of Lawrence Heights, cleaved by the Allen Expressway and surrounded by mostly single-family private dwellings. MIDDLE and ABOVE Lawrence Heights is plagued by inadequate access to shops and services, confined space for public schools, fenced-in areas and outmoded planning ideas regarding the separation of pedestrian and vehicular activities.

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ces, while the American side is close to a nearby mall, RioCan’s Lawrence Square. For all the problems, the area is intensely green and residents have made it known to the TCHC that any redevelopment plan should seek to protect as many trees as possible. Indeed, visitors are invariably struck by the leafy, spacious ambiance. “It is weirdly pleasant,” observes Sterling, whose firm has done planning and imple-

mentation studies for Waterfront Toronto. But all the trees and open spaces come with a cost, he adds. “This is one of the least dense neighbourhoods you’ll find within a mile or two of a subway station anywhere in Toronto.” The economics of revitalizing well-located public housing complexes has been thoroughly tested in many North American cities, such as Chicago. The housing agencies allow private

developers to build on parts of their land, and the proceeds are used to underwrite the cost of demolishing and then rebuilding subsidized apartments. After several false starts, the TCHC embarked on such a campaign in Regent Park in 2004. Besides the new housing, the agency and the city used the opportunity to restore the down­ town street grid through Regent Park, to create a central public space and to encourage the devel­ opment of sustainable buildings. The entire redevelopment—which will double the density of the area—is expected to take about a dozen years to complete. Lawrence Heights, by contrast, presents a host of built form and urban planning dilemmas that didn’t exist in Regent Park. “As an architect, you have to look at it with somewhat different eyes,” says Guslits, who has spent much of his career developing affordable housing. Because the area sits in the flight path of the Downsview Airport located about a kilometre north, new apartments can’t be more than about 10 to 12 storeys high, thus precluding the point towers that will be a feature of the new Regent Park (the first, a 22-storey apartment for seniors on top of an eight-storey podium with familysized units, is being designed by architects­ Alliance). As a result, Guslits predicts the Lawrence Heights redevelopment plan will likely resemble that of St. Lawrence (a.k.a. Crombie Park), the highly successful mixed-income/midrise neigh­bour­hood developed east of St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in the 1970s. Land ownership is another complicating factor. Unlike Regent Park, the property within the Lawrence Heights precinct is a patchwork of overlapping jurisdictions, with parcels owned by the TCHC, the City of Toronto, the province and the two public school boards. “We’re all joining forces to do this,” says Cappe. But much turns on the willingness of the school boards to allow some of their valuable land holdings—playing fields and parking lots—to be used for staging the development of transitional housing for resi­ dents whose apartments are being demolished, as well as the creation of a central “campus” of schools and community agencies. Without question, the most tenacious planning issue facing the TCHC has to do with unravelling the area’s gnarled transportation network, which serves to isolate the residents from local services. One day last summer, two City of Toronto plan­ ners took me on a tour and we began by running the gauntlet of traffic along an unsignalled highway on-ramp that segregates the east side of Lawrence Heights from a nearby transit stop. “This is the full experience of trying to get to the subway,” said senior planner Kyle Knoeck as he dashed across towards a forlorn traffic island known as “the porkchop.” “In the winter,” added Lawrence-Allen revitalization project manager Anne-Marie Nasr, “this is not easy. Everybody recognizes that the transit connections in the area obviously need to be improved.”

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There’s a laundry list of failings associated with the road system: the Allen and the way it bisects Lawrence Heights; the proliferation of cul-de-sacs; the lack of commercial activity on the area’s one major internal road; and the ab­­ sence of street access between Lawrence Heights and surrounding neighbourhoods. As Cappe puts it, “There need to be connections back to the city.” In Regent Park, the City chose to re-establish the traditional grid network as a means of re­­ integrating the area with its surroundings­—a “no brainer,” says Guslits. But both City and TCHC planners say that the redevelopment may not involve reintroducing a grid street pattern. “It’s not obvious how to do it,” he notes. One alternative in consideration is intensify­ ing land use along the two major roads inside Lawrence Heights­—Flemingdon Drive and Varna Avenue—with an eye to developing mixed-used apartment buildings with retail at grade. Cur­ rently, Varna is dominated by single-family rental houses owned by the TCHC; many of the inhabitants have told the TCHC they’d like to purchase their homes but, as Cappe says, “We need to consider all the homes and land in Lawrence Heights for revitalization in order to benefit everyone. Leaving some homes and property out of the plan reduces our ability to build a better neighbourhood.” Yet much more drastic ideas are in play. Local councillor Howard Moscoe has said he wants to

build a deck over the Allen along a 200- to 300metre stretch that runs through Lawrence Heights, using the new space for schools, shops or public parks. Mainly though, that kind of land bridge would make it easier for residents to move across the Allen and access services ranging from schools to shops and transit. No decisions have been made, but the City is already beginning to study decking and variations on the theme, such as substantially widening existing bridges over the Allen to create space above the highway that could accommodate small retail outlets. As Nasr says, “We’re looking at both small and big moves.” Over the past year, TCHC officials have been meeting with groups of Lawrence Heights resi­ dents to begin the consultation process, with an eye to releasing a development proposal in the fall of 2009. Cappe shows the result of one session, during which participants were asked to affix red and yellow dots to a large map of the area, denoting troubled and valued areas res­pec­ tively. The take-away lesson, he says, is that there’s no shortage of yellow dots. Meanwhile, there have been meetings with school board officials, who control large tracts of strategically important land. And the City of Toronto planning team—led by Nasr and Knoek, along with consultant John van Nostrand of planningAlliance—have begun hosting a series of community open houses to introduce residents from the neighbourhoods astride Lawrence Heights to the parameters of a secondary plan

that will encompass a far broader area. Along the way, TCHC officials and Sterling’s team have come to know a growing number of residents, and they’ve been impressed by the pride that many take in their community, warts and all. One is a tenant representative named Welles­ ley Thompson, who has run a thriving community plot garden on the east side of Lawrence Heights for the past five years. On the day we strolled around the area, Cappe and Sterling came to the garden and paused. Cappe predicted that Thompson would emerge from his apartment to give an impromptu tour of the latest crops. As if on cue, he popped out of his townhouse a few moments later. “Do you want to see what I’ve got growing here?” he asks. As the TCHC embarks on this vast endeavour, Sterling says he’s acutely aware of the “echo” of the utopian, well-meaning plans of a previous era. How should they avoid creating a plan that will be dated and troubled half a century hence? “The answer,” he says, “is to beware of design ideologies. We have to learn from what’s good here, because there’s a lot that’s good here. If we can’t come up with a plan with a sense of green­ ery and connection to open space, we’ll have failed.” CA John Lorinc is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail and is the author of The New City, published by Penguin Canada.

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Political vision

In a Montreal suburb, a new housing complex enlivenS the neighbourhood through an effective design strategy that is both architecturally enlightening and affordable. HABITATIONS LOGGIA_PRÉFONTAINE ET RACHEL, BOROUGH OF ROSEMONT—LA PETITE-PATRIE, MONTREAL, QUEBEC ARCHITECT ARCHICONCEPT + NOMADE TEXT David Theodore PHOTOS STÉPHANE BRUGGER PROJECT

Les Habitations Préfontaine is one of those agile social housing projects that manages to both stick out and fit in. The tetris-like eight-storey tower sports an orange snout that looms like a grain elevator in a prairie town. At the same time, the ensemble also includes four-storey row houses, red brick cladding, external metal staircases, and well-demarcated street alignments that carefully knit the project back into the existing housing fabric. 40 canadian canadian architect architect 11/08 11/08

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The project surrounds the Centre RaymondPréfontaine, a now-empty civic hospital first built in 1886 which was later transformed into a youth rehabilitation centre. Its neighbourhood—a mishmash of car washes, imported suburban townhouses, industrial park, 1930s hospital, and small-scale row housing that has grown up around the former Angus railway yards in east Montreal—is in transition. Ironically, the site made national headlines in 2001 when it was squatted by activists protesting the lack of social housing in Montreal. The young but growing Montreal-based firm NOMADE designed the project in conjunction with architect Pierre Richard. In fact, according to principal Jean Pelland, both the site layout and unit programming were well established when NOMADE entered the picture. Richard had made an earlier proposal, based on a close engagement with the community housing group les Habitations communautaires LOGGIA. In Montreal,

The housing complex seen from rue Rachel in the suburban Montreal context of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. CLOCK­ WISE FROM ABOVE RIGHT Brightly painted steel staircases signal entry into the Phase One row houses; the faÇade of the tower block fronting rue Rachel sports a simple orthogonal graphic composition; the top corner of a relatively sober eight-storey tower is embellished by a projecting orange “snout.”

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non-profit groups like LOGGIA work as intermediaries between the citizens and community groups who need low-income affordable housing, and the government agencies who pay for the projects. The group also manages ongoing building operations. Pelland adds that Richard promoted and established accessibility guidelines, so that some 83 of the 122 units are completely accessible. If this all sounds more political than architectural, that’s because it is. The great success of the project is the coordinated communication between residents, municipal authorities, a non-profit housing organization, and architects—a coordination already in place when NOMADE joined the project, and from which they learned and profited. Pelland singles out the support of the borough, and especially the work of former Prix de Rome winner Sophie Charlebois, who represented the collaborative efforts of the borough of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie’s urban services. She created a genuine exchange: she helped NOMADE understand municipal concerns, and

defended and explained their suggestions to the city and the clients. The identification and propagation of such (political) expertise will play a crucial role in guaranteeing the architectural viability of future social housing projects. There were many opportunities to develop architectural ideas; some features, such as the composition of the exterior finishes, were generated by budget constraints (the final cost per square foot was an astonishing $94) during the pricing process. Others developed over the course of construction. Phase One involved row housing built with wood balloon framing covered by red bricks and grey-painted concrete panels hung with galvanized nails. However, Phase Two, the tower, was made of concrete. Pelland says that on subsequent housing design projects, NOMADE has opted to build even the row housing out of concrete. As he explains, design-wise, social housing is an exercise in minimalism, so judiciously detailed exposed concrete can create attractive interior surfaces, such as simple ceiling finishes

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP A view of the second-phase tower block looking west along rue Rachel towards downtown Montreal; resembling gigantic Tonka Toy components, iconic Montreal fire exits are exaggerated by canary yellow paint; a brightly lit eroded corner on the ground floor demarcates an unambiguous entry into the building. BELOW The first-phase four-storey row housing along rue PrÉfontaine is handsomely clad in red brick and concrete panel.

CLIENT LES HABITATIONS COMMUNAUTAIRES LOGGIA ARCHITECT TEAM JEAN PELLAND, PIERRE RICHARD, MICHEL LAUZON, MARTIN LEBLANC, YVON LACHANCE, CHARLES THÉRIAULT, LUC DURIVAGE, NATACHA MERCIER, CHI LONG VAN, PIERRE-ALEXANDRE RÉHAUME, ÉRIC PROVOST, MARTIN ROBILLARD, LUC GAUVIN STRUCTURAL SYLVAIN PARR ET ASSOCIÉS MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL DUPRAS LEDOUX LANDSCAPE/INTERIORS ARCHICONCEPT + NOMADE CONTRACTOR CONSORTIUM MR Area 13,000 M2 BUDGET $13 M (FOR THE 2 PHASES) Completion JULY 2007

that don’t interfere with bulkheads. Other formal, tectonic, and planning ideas spring more clearly from NOMADE’s ambition to design a project with visual élan—“a fun eventful thing,” as Pelland calls it. For instance, in NOMADE’s hands, the iconic Montreal exterior metal fire exits are turned into giant Tonka Toylike play structures and terraces at the back of the project. The row housing offers a mixture of public and private entrances. The first floor has fully accessible units. Bright yellow staircases punctuate the entrances to the upper levels, a reminder of traditional Montreal housing plans. The apartments on floors 3 and 4 are also double-height, which affords some terraces, and some simple compositional effects. “We used the balconies to break up the volumes,” says Pelland. And, of course, the unimpeded views from the upper floors of the tower block are spectacular. The Centre Raymond-Préfontaine forms the centrepiece of the proposed next phases of the project, which will add about 150 affordable market condominiums aimed at first-time buyers. This third phase will include the remediation of land originally slated for housing that proved too contaminated for inhabitation. And encouragingly, all these future plans are part of a large, community-based effort to redeem the “second ring” around Montreal’s business core—the zone of now underused lands holding transport and light manufacturing—into affordable, low-cost social housing. “Our previous experience was with private promoters,” says Pelland. “We were influenced by the look of European housing design, but there’s a greater purpose to this. We quickly learned that we had to make a place for a community that’s truly part of the city.” CA David Theodore is a Regional Correspondent for Cana­ dian Architect.

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RINGLEADERS The latest addition to Cirque du Soleil’s Montreal campus serves as a beacon to passing motorists while consolidating the circus empire’s administrative functions. CIRQUE DU SOLEIL OFFICES, MONTREAL, QUEBEC ARCHITECT FAUCHER AUBERTIN BRODEUR GAUTHIER ARCHITECTES TEXT RHYS PHILLIPS PHOTOS STEVE MONTPETIT

When the Conference Board of Canada published its latest report titled How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada, it was quickly redubbed “the report on mediocrity.” In a scathing section called Innovation, the country received a failing grade of “D.” To some, this may seem a harsh assessment for a country that boasts Bombardier, a highly efficient (if aesthetically challenged) housing industry, several global architecture firms, and at least one city that consistently ranks at or near the top of the best cities in the world. The Board, it seems, has an overwhelming bias to technology. Still, it seems almost shocking that the report could not find space to celebrate the innovative achievement of Quebec’s Cirque du Soleil. Cirque, as most Canadians know, is Mon­treal’s entertainment juggernaut that started in 1984 as a single show with 73 employees in Quebec City, but which has now reached 4,000 performers, artists and administrators in 40 countries. This figure includes 1,800 in its north-end Montreal world headquarters alone. Annual output is pressing towards one billion dollars and, according to Brian Scott on the web magazine Theatremania, “it seems that no matter where you are in the world, one of Cirque du Soleil’s spectacular extravaganzas is playing right now,” including Tokyo, Dubai, Macau and Las Vegas. The dazzling creative and financial success of Cirque resulted in founder Guy Laliberté—who started as a firebreathing busker—being selected as Ernst & Young’s “World Entrepreneur” in 2007. When Dubai investors Istithmar World and Nakheel PJSC—both units of government-owned Dubai World—acquired 20 percent of Cirque du Soleil in early August, there was considerable unease. Not only might Canada lose an important TOP RIGHT The double-height events space offers a three-sided panoramic view of the city. The conical void helps collect rain water, while serving as an illuminated beacon to motorists at night.

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the double-height events space caps off Cirque du soleil’s new office tower. TOP Éric Gauthier’s design for the new atrium space includes an interior village street that is intent on providing nearly seamless connections between the various new additions to the site. ABOVE Clear and bright yellow glass cheerfully ACCENTS the bistro area. OPPOSITE

cultural asset, what would be the fate of the remarkable cultural, architectural and urban design project called La Tohu, the City of Circus Arts (see CA, January 2006) which Cirque has nurtured since its inception? However, as I was assured during a recent tour of its Montreal facilities, this iconic institution was going nowhere as long as Laliberté was around. La Tohu, which roughly translates as “pandemonium,” is a steadily growing circus arts complex run by a non-profit organization created in November 1999 by En Piste, the umbrella organization for Quebec’s circus arts professionals, organizations and institutions. In addition to Cirque, a key

member includes the National Circus School whose own 11-storey headquarters (Lapointe, Magne et Associés) opened in 2003. On the southwest corner of the site, this was followed by Tohu, the drum-shaped circus performance facility coupled with supporting exhibition and workshop spaces, which was designed by Schème Consultants, L’architecte Jacques Plante, Jodoin Lamarre Pratte et Associés Architectes—Consortium. Three ambitious goals drive La Tohu. The first is to make Montreal an international circus arts capital; the second is to participate with the city in the regeneration of the Miron Quarry/waste disposal site in the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex, Montreal’s second-largest park after Mont Royal; and the last is to contribute to the revitalization of the surrounding neighbourhood of Saint-Michel. Significant mainstream and architectural media coverage has been given to the impressive designs of the Circus School and the Tohu Pavilion as well as to Éric Gauthier’s Governor General’s Award-winning 115 Studio (Les Architectes FABG), Cirque’s residential complex for performers training for upcoming shows. But since the completion of Dan Hanganu’s original building in 1997, Cirque’s headquarters has also been steadily expanding. The completion of Le Mât (the mast) in 2008, an eight-storey administration and event space tower on the site’s south central area, marks Gauthier’s third significant addition and brings Cirque’s working space to 400,000 square feet, overcoming a variety of challenges associated with widely dispersed workspaces. Gauthier’s first contribution to the site was in 2001 when he designed a substantial workshop space, Les Ateliers, to the south of the original Le Studio. This was followed in 2006 by a two-level cafeteria and music studios that wrap around Hanganu’s opaque studio cube at the north end, and most recently by Le Mât. Gauthier’s approach to the site is to develop the complex as “old city organic,” ensuring an almost seamlessness to the connections between the various new additions to the site. From time to time it has been suggested that a master plan be developed for Cirque’s campus but this has always been rejected. Therefore, the original interior village idea—that Laliberté believes eschews a closed-off bureaucratic environment which is counterintuitive to the openness and interaction that helps creativity to flourish—is sustained throughout. For Gauthier’s Atelier, workshops and offices are divided by a full-height interior street spanned by bridges.The workshops are abundantly filled with southeast light while large light boxes on the roof allow light to penetrate. A two-storey bistro with a mezzanine wrapped in alternating horizontal panels of clear and bright yellow glass is incorporated into the Atelier. On the 2006 cafeteria wing, a finer-textured aluminum grating was substituted for the complex’s ubiquitous corrugated metal cladding (although it returns to dress three of four sides of the newest tower addition). The change in scale introduced by the grating neatly plays off the large checkerboard pattern on the Studio volume looming above that Hanganu achieved by alternating the direction of the corrugated panels. Filled with light, the cafeteria is enclosed with alternating vertical panels of transparent glass and the opaque aluminum panels. The latter appear as if they might slide back and forth across the glass, thus providing a sense of dynamic motion along the north façade. Between Hanganu’s original blue metal-clad building and the new cafeteria/studio wing, panels of fritted glass embellished with a pattern of circles and parallel lines contribute to a sense of casual openness. After all, “circus” derives from the Latin word for ring and the Roman circus was marked by a rounded end with parallel sides. Inside, a bold white-painted steel spiral staircase winds up to the cafeteria’s second level. With his latest addition, however, Gauthier has added the closest thing to a visual landmark for the sprawling complex. Le Mât’s eight storeys, tucked just west of the Atelier wing, veers from Cirque’s horizontal orientation. A spacious two-storey glazed lobby, filled with abundant southern light, connects this tower with the Atelier while providing an employee entrance near the parking area. It shares the first level with an equally light-filled lounge for eating, relaxation, and inspiration. In plan and articulation, the tower appears relatively simple with its 11/08­ canadian architect

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of the north half of the tower. On its east side, the slab is partially supported by the expressed-inmetal elevator shaft. According to Gauthier, the tower is a clear urban gesture to provide distinctly articulated vertical elements visible from the raised Metropolitan Expressway (Highway 40) nearby. Its top is a double-height minimalist events space with a three-sided panoramic view of the city and which is penetrated by a large double-curved glass funnel that captures rain water. “Water and fire,” states Gauthier, “are totemic elements for Cirque and Laliberté wanted both present; so in addition to the funnel, we also installed a smokeless fire pit.” Visible from rue Jarry and from Highway 40, the events space and its funnel combine to be­­ come a signature beacon, particularly at night when lit from within. Along its south internal side, the mezzanine is enclosed by floor-toceiling glass which, when subject to an electric current, realigns its crystals to become a hightech projection screen. When used with ceiling projectors, potentially dazzling shows of light and images are presented to motorists and passersby below. Although Gauthier’s project incorporates various green building innovations, including soybased “asphalt” for the parking lot and triple glazing with two low-E layers on the tower, the building is not LEED-certified. “Frankly,” he states, “the green-level elements we commonly use in our projects ought simply to be considered as the basic standards for all projects.” Cirque du Soleil’s Montreal world head­ quarters must operate, perhaps paradoxically, as both a well-oiled production machine and a centre of chaotic creativity. Gauthier has successfully continued to expand, with thoughtful variations, an environment that handles both exacting requirements extremely well. CA Rhys Phillips lives in Ottawa and has been writing on architecture and urban design for over two decades.

Oblique and elevational views of the new office complex illustrate the studious mixing of volumetric scale and definition.

TOP and ABOVE

materials remaining largely faithful to earlier components. A shift of emphasis, however, takes place on the south elevation to provide the final contribution to creating greater public prominence for Cirque’s face towards the city. This process had started with the earlier Atelier façade, which continued the use of ribbon windows between corrugated metal panels, but which was animated by a freestanding galvanized steel-

frame shading system of brise-soleils utilizing round HSS tubes. Against this intricate play of filial detail, the tower’s south elevation is considerably slicker, presenting a high-transparency glass plane. When viewed from far away, however, the tower appropriately displays—given Cirque’s performances—a decidedly precarious balancing act. A single-storey glazed slab, its ends cantilevered, stretches across the top level

CLIENT CIRQUE DU SOLEIL ARCHITECT TEAM ÉRIC GAUTHIER, MARC PARADIS, DOMINIK POTVIN, FRANÇOIS VERVILLE STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL LES CONSULTANTS GEMEC INTERIORS EXA DESIGN CONTRACTOR J.E. VERREAULT CO. AREA 5,575 M2 BUDGET $10 M COMPLETION 2007

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A Shore Thing

Along the St. Lawrence River, a new vision for a historic city has been created through an exceptional example of contemporary landscape architecture. PROJECT Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec URBAN DESIGN Daoust Lestage Inc., WILLIAMS ASSELIN ACKAOUI AND OPTION AMÉNAGEMENT, in consortium TEXT Odile Hénault PHOTOS Marc Cramer

It is hard to imagine what this stunning site was like just a few years ago! Quebec City, like many other North American and European cities, turned its back on its waterfront during the better part of the 19th and 20th century while the lumber trade, followed by the petroleum industry, gradually took over the shores of the St. Lawrence River. By the turn of the century, the 12kilometre shoreline that extended westward from Old Quebec to the landmark bridges of Pont de Québec and Pont Pierre-Laporte was being used in ways that were totally incompatible with a leisurely bike ride or the simple appreciation of this important landscape. In planning the 2008 celebrations for Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, steps were taken to rehabilitate the shoreline. The newly christened

and internationally recognized Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain was inaugurated in the summer of 2008 after an amazingly smooth two-year construction period. It constitutes the first phase of a major linear park project that will eventually extend eastward from Quebec City’s two bridges to the already restored area in the Old City, just beneath the Chateau Frontenac. Before the project could be implemented, major physical and institutional obstacles had to be overcome. When the idea to restore this landscape first emerged in 1999, the decision-making process involved, amongst other stakeholders, 13 municipalities, Quebec’s Department of Transport as well as the federal government’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Like many waterfront landscapes, the site conditions were com-

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plicated. Much of the soil was contaminated and some of the land was privately owned. Public access to the water was next to nil. According to urban planner Serge Filion, who then led the project while at the Commission de la Capitale nationale du Québec (CCNQ)—one of the city’s major planning authorities—priority was given to acquiring the land, convincing the various politicians and departments involved, listening to the public, and, most importantly, encouraging people to dream about a new landscape. The first studies to evaluate the site’s potential were established early on in the process with a series of visual concepts that were quickly set aside. In an unusual move, the University of Montreal professors associated with the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design

were called in and asked to provide their own sketches and ideas as to what a linear park along the shores of the St. Lawrence River should look like. Eventually, the consortium—comprised of Daoust Lestage Inc., Williams Asselin Ackaoui and Option Aménagement, with Genivar/SNCLavalin as the engineers—were given the mandate to develop an overall concept, which was eventually submitted in 2002. By 2005, as the project was beginning to take shape (on paper at least), costs had been initially estimated at $200 million. Quebec’s newly elected government announced that no more than $70 million would be allocated to the project. Poli­ti­ cians expected this budget to be spread evenly over the 12-kilometre park. CCNQ’s Serge Filion flatly refused and proposed phasing out the pro-

Sited adjacent to a newly designed rippling landscape, Quai des Hommes is terminated by a meditative vertical element offering an intimately framed view out toward the St. Lawrence River. ABOVE The ambitious new Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain terminates here, at the poetic and celebratory Quai des Cageux. OPPOSITE TOP

ject altogether. A 2.5-kilometre-long site was eventually selected for the first phase, nearest to the bridges on the outskirts of the city. With precious little time left during which public consultations had to be held, several modifications were made so that the project could be ready for Quebec’s 400th anniversary. The site was broken down into three distinct 11/08­ canadian architect

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zones. From west to east, the Station des Cageux is sited closest to the bridges, followed by the Station des Sports and finally, the Station des Quais. The existing highway was redirected away from the shore and redesigned in the spirit of American parkways. Lanes were narrowed and long curves were introduced which freed up land for recreational purposes—nearly 40,000 square metres of usable space to the west and 25,000 square metres to the east. Parking lanes, an essential part of the project, had to accommodate close to 300 spots, and were subtly integrated

into the boulevard’s design. A pedestrian pathway and a parallel bike lane further strengthened the project’s connecting spine. Located in Station des Cageux is one of the project’s signature interventions, Quai des Cageux, whose name recalls the intrepid men— Jos Montferrand being the most famous among them—who in the 19th century would assemble the lumber logged along the Ottawa River in large rafts and float them down river. Logs would then be piled up on the shores near Sillery (now part of Quebec City) where they would be left to dry,

waiting to be loaded on English ships. The 20metre-high observation tower on the Quai des Cageux recalls these carefully assembled wood piles, and the tower’s roof is a metaphor for the sails used by the Cageux to move their huge lumber rafts downstream. Quai des Cageux, the gateway segment of the Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain, is the only portion of the riverfront to have a substantial archi­ tectural component. The rest of the Promenade is mostly treated as a landscape and urban design project. The Station des Quais, which lies to the

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east of the project, is an 80,000-square-metre grassy area dotted with contemporary art pieces produced by some of Quebec’s most re­­mark­able sculptors. The Quais concept encompasses four gardens that lay perpendicular to the St. Lawrence and constitute another major focal point on the Promenade. Quai des Brumes (named after the eponymous Marcel Carné movie), Quai des Flots, Quai des Hommes and Quai des Vents are each inspired by the river’s moods and history. Each quay has its own special character. Quai des Brumes evokes the intimate atmosphere of

New landscape furniture, lighting and paths help redefine this history-laden section of the St. Lawrence; a beautifully undulating landscape echoes the waves of the adjacent river; at Quai des Vents, the landscape pays homage to the region’s prevailing winds—the design for the new light standards are influenced by wind turbines. OPPOSITE BOTTOM One of the four shelters in the Station des Sports that sympathetically relates to the overall material palette of the landscape interventions. below The long sculptural bench provides relief for weary rollerbladers and cyclists, AND the reconfigured vehicular parkway can be seen in the distance. opposite top, LEFT TO RIGHT

the river’s shoreline when veiled in mist. Blocks of granite break out of the pebbly ground like moraines from the glacial era and the ambiance— particularly evocative at night when the lights are

turned on—is reminiscent of Montreal’s Place Jean-Paul Riopelle, also designed by Daoust Lestage. Quai des Flots is organized around a long jagged element of white concrete—alternatively

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national archives of canada

used as a stair or seating area—which simulates the river’s ice formations during springtime. Five alignments of water jets emerge from the ground, reminiscent of waves lapping the shores of the St. Lawrence. Quai des Hommes features a long narrow wood boardwalk that bends upwards, allowing a framed view of the landscape. Thin stylized metallic structures refer to the fascines still in use today for catching eels in the St. Lawrence. Finally, the last garden, Quai des Vents, closest to Quebec City, pays tribute to the ever-present prevailing winds along the St. Lawrence. Articulated aluminum structures, designed by Réal Lestage, allude to the large migratory movements of the geese that fly overhead. A small sandy area along the shore recalls a time when swimming was a popular activity in the area. Incorporating more community-oriented programmatic requirements, the Station des Sports, situated in the middle of the project on the northern side of the boulevard, was designed to accommodate two soccer fields and a more utilitarian sports area. A small service building, as well as four rest shelters strategically sited throughout the Promenade, were also designed in the same architectural vocabulary as Quai des Cageux’s entrance pavilion and observation tower. Also treated in a similar fashion is a long wood staircase used to bring people up to Boisé Tequenonday, a nearby rocky cliff where rich archaeological discoveries have been made, attesting to the presence of First Nations people dating back several thousand years. Apart from a few seating elements with outstandingly elegant lines, the attitude towards the urban furniture was to integrate maritimeinspired objects—wooden rafts, for example, or the stone and concrete elements used to define individual areas which encourage the public to sit, lie or play on them. This gives rise to delightful moments when people recline on rafts which appear to be floating on water, especially when the water jets are turned on. As it now stands, the Promenade Samuel-deChamplain constitutes an important statement in terms of contemporary landscape architecture. quai des cageux

quai des flots—pavement detail

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Commemorating THE Quebec City forestry industry FROM another era, this historic photograph was taken at Sharples and Dobell’s Coves in 1891. The image illustrates how rafts of pine timber were once stacked and loaded onto ships for export. ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT Taken at roughly the same location as the historic photo, this image illustrates the shift from industrial to recreational activities; the illuminated fountains at Quai des Flots. OPPOSITE TOP

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The project truly shows what can be accomplished when enlightened professionals manage to convince politicians to move towards the completion of a visionary concept. There was little public controversy around this project and the level of acceptance among citizens who are not normally accustomed to contemporary design exceeded the CCNQ’s expectations. One can only hope this project will be a source of inspiration for professionals and politicians around the country as waterfronts and former industrial areas are being adapted to the 21st century’s new realities. CA

TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT Station des Cageux’s famous tower provides infinite delight and PANO­ RAMIC views to visitors; a walkway along the promenade; the SKILLFUL integration of stone, concrete and wood as hardscape materials enlivens the more prosaic asphalt cycling trail. ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT The Quai des Brumes at dusk; quai des flots—the wooden rafts and ice flow-inspired paving pattern bring an informed and WHIMSICAL narrative to this landscape.

Odile Hénault is an architectural critic, writer, professional advisor and occasionally teaches at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

CLIENT Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec (SERGE FILION, DIANE SIMARD) DESIGN TEAM Réal Lestage, Renée Daoust, Caroline Beaulieu, Lucie Bibeau, Martin Adam, Maria Benech, André Nadeau, Simon Magnan, Rachel Philippe-Auguste, Catherine St-Marseille, Hubert Pelletier, Nelson Couture, Jacques Michaud ENGINEERING GENIVAR and SNC-LAVALIN CONTRACTOR POMERLEAU Lighting ÉCLAIRAGE PUBLIC AREA 2.5 km in length BUDGET $50 M COMPLETION June 2008

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TOWN OF BEDROCK

The harsh bedrock landscape of the Northwest Territories is incorporated to great effect in an eightunit condominium complex in Yellowknife. PROJECT McDONALD DRIVE CONDOMINIUMS, YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories ARCHITECT Pin/Taylor ARCHITECTS TEXT Elsa Lam PHOTOS Ihor Pona

Four years after moving to Yellowknife in 1971, architect Gino Pin decided to make his home on a cliffside on Latham Island, adjacent to the historic Old Town. City officials said they’d be happy to sell the lot, though they doubted one could build on the steep grade. “Sure you can,” replied Pin, and proceeded to construct a staircase-like house ascending the slope, with one room on each level. Across a narrow causeway from this first residence, Pin’s newest project testifies to the maturation of the architect’s work over the decades. Like its counterpart, the eight-unit McDonald Drive condominium complex is driven by a close engagement with its site. This sensibility occurs

on multiple scales, from broad strategic moves to finely tuned details, developed through years of architectural experience in the North. The building’s curved, stacked form and perching foundations align directly with its site, a massive outcrop of bedrock, jutting towards the water at the edge of town. The project’s inception was in part an effort to preserve the integrity of this formidable geology. “In recent years, planning in Yellowknife hasn’t related to the natural terrain,” Pin says, explaining how his collaboration with four Yellowknife residents began. “We were concerned that someone else might build there and blast the rock away.” A fundamental respect for the rock literally

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pervades the project. In several of the units, exposed bedrock enters as a surreal presence on the ground floor, while acting as a heat sink that moderates seasonal temperature extremes. Individual floor plans are adapted to the shape of the terrain: in one unit, a bedroom steps up to a sleeping platform and work area, following the rock profile. Level shifts on the ground floor reverberate above, where living and dining spaces are designated by a grade change. An open staircase leads to the uppermost level housing a tiny study and open balcony, with a panoramic view to the rock top and Yellowknife Bay. The climactic extremities of Yellowknife are

equally important, if less obvious influences on the building’s form. Prevailing winds from the north are deflected by the curved layout of the complex, whose crescent shape creates a sheltered microclimate for the terraces and community space to the south. The roof also slopes north, further protecting against harsh weather patterns while diverting rain and snowmelt to the street. A perennial challenge in the subarctic is coaxing light to enter during the brief winter daylight hours, while sheltering from excessive heat gain under the relentless summer sun. An instinct to hunker down in the cold season and seek relief from summer rays is one reason for placing bed-

Clearly expressed tectonic details are apparent in the rhythmic wood columns supporting the structure. ABOVE The appealing modules of the eight linked units are characterized by topfloor studies and balconies that offer panoramic views of Yellowknife Bay. OPPOSITE

rooms on the sheltered ground floor. On the main level, generous south-facing windows permit low-angled winter light to enter while shading against steep midsummer sun angles. While the layout shies away from a full open plan—perhaps acknowledging its logistical and acoustical impracticalities—sliding glass doors and partially glazed partitions create pathways for natural light 11/08­ canadian architect

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ABOVE Straightforward materials combine harmoniously to articulate the building’s exterior. TOP RIGHT stainless steel washers and screws fasten the zincsheet cladding loosely in place to allow for expansion and contraction. OPPOSITE A distant view from Yellowknife Bay illustrates how the integrity of the site’s formidable geography is preserved, as the building follows the organic curves of the massive outcrop of bedrock.

CLIENT MAFIC CONDOMINIUMS ARCHITECT TEAM GINO PIN, SIMON TAYLOR, DOUG TOWNSON, BECCA KROEGER, SVETLANA KAZNACHEEVA, VANCE FOK, JENNIFER ESPOSITO, SETH LIPPERT, JACOB SHANK, VINCE BARTER, CLARK WEBB STRUCTURAL NELSON ENGINEERING MECHANICAL JSL MECHANICAL INSTALLATIONS LTD ELECTRICAL RYFAN ELECTRIC LTD LANDSCAPe PIN/TAYLOR ARCHITECTS INTERIORS PIN/TAYLOR ARCHITECTS CONTRACTOR tundra CONSTRUCTION AREA 16,000 FT2 BUDGET $6 M COMPLETION JUNE 2008

site plan

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A SECTIONAL STUDY DIAGRAM OF SEASONAL SOLAR STRATEGIES. At times, the building appears to perch on its rocky site, an effect achieved through clearly expressed wood columns. ABOVE Exposed bedrock enters as a surreal presence on the ground floor, while acting as a heat sink that moderates seasonal temperature extremes. OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT In contrast to the cold hard bedrock of the site, a warm, rich interior is achieved through the liberal use of wood in flooring, stairs and cabinetry; as a material native to the Northwest Territories, weather-resistant zinc suitably clads the building; the eight condominium units are linked in a gentle crescentshaped curve, creating a sheltered microclimate for the southfacing terraces and community space. LEFT

TOP LEFT

in the winter and shoulder seasons. In one unit, a below-grade sauna is endowed with polycarbonate glazing at ceiling height and a glass door allows daylight to continue through to the bathroom. In the living areas, northfacing clerestories are angled so that ambient light reflects off snow and bounces inside, towards a built-in window seat. If the bowed-out, wood-and-metal waterfront construction tempts nautical metaphors, Pin is adamant that any such links are unintentional. Even the porthole-like screened openings punctuating the façade are practical: they’re devices for providing natural cross-ventilation, refined by trial and error over the course of many projects. The depth of the openings prevents wind-driven ice and snow buildup, and gives room for circulating air to pick up warmth in winter. The exterior finish strategy reflects another challenge in Yellowknife—the shortage and expense of materials and skilled labour, currently at a premium because of the booming economy in neighbouring Alberta. The cladding is made of zinc, a weather-resistant metal and one of the few materials native to the Northwest Territories. To economize on labour costs, onemetre-wide rolls straight from the factory were top-hung from the structure

with minimal cutting or crimping. Stainless steel washers and screws fasten the material loosely in place, allowing for expansion and contraction. As a result, the façade has an oil-canned warp that appears somewhat incongruous against the otherwise sturdy-looking construction. But that very roughness reflects the spirit of a project that doesn’t aim to be slick, or to conform to current stylistic trends. Instead, a combination of practicality and improvisation drives the design, both inside and out. The outcome is a far cry from the sterile trailer-home suburbs that have come to dominate Yellowknife development. It recalls, rather, the improvised housing of the houseboat community, the neo-hippie shacks of a district affectionately known as the Woodpile, or Pin’s own quirky first residence: housing highly flexible in adapting to its environmental surroundings, and which makes the most of the resources at hand. CA Elsa Lam is a freelance journalist and PhD candidate in architectural history at Columbia University in New York.

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technical

Concrete Dreams Using concrete experimentation as a foundation, there are always oppor­ tunities to link material research with academia, industry and design.

TEXT

Anne Miller

mark west/cast

The pursuit of architecture is a schizophrenic endeavour in which we are forced to craft a synthetic union between technical requirements and creative desires. While it is easy to adopt an approach where creative form-making is punctuated by the occasional scientific reality check, this diminishes the true and potential nature of the discipline. It is the interaction of research and practice, and the exchange and synthesis of ideas from various perspectives, that make architecture. Too often, however, the various facets of architecture work independently from one another; a symbiotic process or relationship that links creative research and inspiration to practical realization allowing each to influence the other is virtually nonexistent. Bringing the numerous dimensions of our personality together is a lifelong pursuit: from academia to practice to industry we must strive to develop networks of communication and feedback to benefit us as practitioners and the profession as a whole. The integrative nature of architecture—science and art, form and function, theory and practice—is embodied in the materials that bring architecture to life. Concrete is exemplary in this respect; its physical and formal manifestation is a direct reflection of the science of its making. From the rough power of le béton brut to the sensual smoothness of fabric-formed concrete, the physical character of the artifact is a product of science and art; formal desires, technically exact moistures, the human touch of the craftsperson, all combine to affect the final form. More than a century ago, Thomas Edison was intensely aware of the importance of innovation and the architectural potential offered by concrete construction. In 1906, Edison gave a speech

anne miller

TOP RIGHT The overlap between research, technology and practice can never bE overestimated. The diagram is intended to visualize the overlap of Thomas Edi­ son’s experiments with concrete hous­ ing in the early 20th century. MIDDLE right A photomontage taken inside CAST, an on-campus research incubator led by University of Manitoba architecture pro­ fessor Mark West. RIGHT Anne Miller’s graduation thesis explored new ways of reconceptualizing the mass produc­ tion of concrete construction using fabric formwork.

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claiming that one day, all buildings­—even houses—would be constructed of concrete. He spoke of this vision particularly in terms of concrete’s potential to provide affordable and safe housing to the world’s poor. This idea garnered so much attention from around the globe—dozens of articles were written and Edison received hundreds of letters of interest—that he embarked on a philanthropic research project, eventually developing materials, methods and techniques which could be used to construct concrete homes. Using a series of cast-iron molds that were robust and reusable, this system allowed a builder—in one day with a continuous six-hour pour—to cast a concrete house, complete with walls, floors, stairs, sinks, bathtubs and more. For Edison, the true merit of the system was the economic opportunity it presented: the initial cost to purchase the cast-iron forming system— an expense borne by the builder—would be earned back quickly due to the speed with which the houses could be constructed. In turn, the builder would sell these houses for a modest amount of money. Edison’s research was successfully demonstrated under his supervision, but was not wholeheartedly adopted by the construction industry. By 1920, Edison had entirely moved on to other interests, and his grand aspirations were limited by the practicalities of transportation economics and technology transfer. The cast-iron forms were extremely expensive to transport, and Edison had finely tuned the materials, methods and techniques such that purchasers of the patents would find it difficult to reproduce his results, and may be tempted to cut corners. More recently, the world of fabric formwork presents examples of the role of innovation and research in academia, practice and industry, though the paradigms are not without limitation. This innovative research may suffer the same fate as Edison’s unless the value of fabric formwork is

demonstrated on a widespread basis to practitioners and industry. Fabric formwork boasts many practical advantages over traditional forming. The quality of the resulting concrete surface alone makes it a patently marketable idea: the porosity of the fabric used allows air bubbles and excess water to bleed out, while retaining the precious cementitious materials at the concrete’s surface, masking the brute stone mixture that lies stalwartly be­­ neath. This is concrete’s dream. Mark West, Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, has long extolled the virtues of fabric formwork even outside of the boundless formal possibilities that it presents. West has shown, through his collaborative work with his students at CAST (Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology) at the University of Manitoba, that the fabric produces softer, smoother, stronger concrete. CAST is currently involved in four construction projects ranging from an in-house collaboration between architects, academics and engineers to design and construct an addition to the CAST building, to a consultancy project, where fabric-formed panels designed by CAST may be used as exterior cladding. This type of project-driven academic research, though innovative, collaborative and cross-functional, may not push fabric formwork into mainstream industry and practice. The visionary work of Japanese architect Kenzo Unno with fabric-formed cast-in-place concrete takes the poetic utility of fabric formwork to another level: he demonstrates that the formwork can be hung directly from an erected rebar—the skin suspended from the endoskeleton. One can immediately imagine the opportunities this presents—reduced requirement for skilled labour, significant reduction in forming material requirements, and the vibration necessary to consolidate the concrete in all concrete construc-

edison national historic site/us national park service

anne miller

tion is accomplished by simply tapping on the outside of the formwork. Armed with didacts Edison, West and Unno, my personal research has taken the form of a design investigation into the possibilities of fabric formwork through a critical reinterpretation of Edison’s work, as part of a larger exploration of the contemporary tectonic and economic promise of concrete construction. A series of experiments were conducted in order to explore the nature of concrete, its interaction with forming media, solid/void relationships, and the possibilities of design and construction using these methods. Analysis of the individual investigations and the resulting artifacts speak to the tectonic and spatial possibilities of fabric-formed concrete. We can begin to understand the implications for low-cost rapid-construction housing, from inherently urban projects to remote post-disaster housing, particularly if we imagine a kit of parts and the infinite possibilities presented by DIY concrete forming. In the same way that Edison erected a double-walled house of cast iron in order to cast a concrete house inside of it, one can imagine the double layers of erected fabric formwork acting as temporary or emergency shelter, until the permanent concrete structure Thomas Edison poses in front of A model of a concrete house built from his system of reusable castiron formwork; TEN concrete houses designed with Edison’s visionary but impractical formwork system remain standing on Ingersoll Terrace in Union, New Jersey; STUDENTS DEVISE NEW USES FOR CONCRETE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA’S CAST BUILDING; the installa­ tion of a fabric-formed concrete wall that uses Kenzo Unno’s patented tech­ nology—Workers need only tap the exterior face of the wall to reduce any air bubbles in the concrete mix. BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT

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anne miller

can be built. Fabric formwork research has the opportunity to challenge the status quo of concrete architecture and construction. How, then, can academic research-based inquiry converge with practice and industry to allow these ideas and techniques to be effectively absorbed by the norms of the mainstream? How can our profession foster stronger linkages between this research, practice and industry? Do we need to follow the engineering school model and have student research work be borne out of industry interests and funding? West and CAST have avoided the pitfalls of being beholden to industry sponsors, opting instead to operate in a gift economy, where CAST projects receive no direct funding or direct compensation for CAST’s contribution. The example of CAST and its research and working methods can be useful in terms of how academic institutions might approach the integration of research, industry and practice; but to take these partnerships beyond academia and firmly into the realm of practice is a goal worth pursuing. Unno’s work establishes that there can be a dynamic research component to practice; however, the insular quality of this type of innovation remains. The recent First International Conference on Fabric Formwork, hosted by Mark West and CAST, was an important first step in the development of these partnerships and feedback loops, though only for this specific technology. The backgrounds and interests, research and built work of the speakers was diverse in content, but the confluence of sentiment was clear: there is something very special about this work and we are all very excited by it. Attended by over 100 academic researchers, students, architects, engineers and constructors from across the globe, this conference saw the genesis of the International Society of Fabric Forming (ISOFF), which will serve to—in broad terms—advance this

it is unfortunate that the building industry has not been proactive in adopting innovative and sustainable construction techniques. This diagram illustrates the sim­ ple potential of combining new technologies that are cost-effective and easy to build.

ABOVE

particular field. As the fledgling ISOFF grows and strengthens, it will un­­ques­tion­ably be a useful forum to promote the specific cause of fabricformed concrete, and will allow for valuable cross-functional collaboration, particularly if more industry representatives are enticed into involvement. Beyond academia, specific interest groups and the world of fabric formwork, there is a need for an overarching model to foster innovation and to positively influence the profession and asso­ci­ ated industry. Encouraging research and colla­bo­ ration with our particular “sister industry”—the behemoth that is construction—will certainly necessitate the active pursuit of architects and potentially government support. Perhaps a publicly or privately funded “incubator” might play a role in fostering innovation in architecture and construction—its materials, methods and techniques—and help bring these ideas to the marketplace. An example of this type of system can be found in Toronto’s MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences) project, which defines itself as

a “non-profit innovation centre connecting science, technology and social entrepreneurs with business skills, networks and capital to stimulate innovation and accelerate the creation and growth of successful Canadian enterprises.” If such a body existed for architecture, exploratory collaborative research would become more prevalent in practice, potentially gaining traction with industrial partners. Not only would this allow practitioners to contribute to the profession in meaningful ways but it may also inspire greater collaborative research-based work in graduate schools. From academia to practice to industry, work­ ing to synthesize ideology and theory, science and creativity, research and technics, is critical to the advancement of the profession. Edison had an innovative proposal to mitigate a societal problem. He designed, prototyped and developed materials, methods and techniques to implement this idea, tested it against industry norms, but did not carry it through into the realm of adaptable technology to the marketplace, as he had successfully done with his other inventions. When the champion disengages, how does the world carry on the dream? Lamentably, few of us have Edison’s talents or his resources, but as emerging architects, we certainly have his enthusiasm, and occasionally, his determination. From inspiration to realization, with some thoughtful planning we can develop a model that allows this to happen. CA Anne Miller loves concrete, collaborative research and innovation. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Architecture program at the University of Toronto. She is also a professional engineer with an MBA who worked for ten years in the environmental field, six of them in the cement and concrete industries.

mark west/cast

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calendar Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago

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Architectures of Confession

Architectural Acoustics

November 18, 2008 Evonne Levy of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Archi­ tecture, Landscape and Design, Uni­ versity of Toronto presents this lecture at 6:30 pm in Room 103 of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto.

Building Noise and Vibration Control

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Marco Petreschi lecture Toplight: Roof Transparencies from 1760 to 1960

October 23, 2008-February 15, 2009 The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) presents this exhibition consisting of over 60 rare photographs, drawings, prints, and books that trace the origins of skylights and the aesthetic, technical, and socioeconomic factors that drove the 200-year design development in a range of building types. The design and application of skylights are traced over a long period and in a wide range of buildings including railway stations, factories, world’s fairs, museums, department stores, private homes and tenements. www.cca.qc.ca Livewire at SCI-Arc Gallery

October 24-December 14, 2008 This site-specific installation in the SCIArc Gallery features Los Angelesbased architects and SCI-Arc studio design faculty members, Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu, in collaboration with the engineering firm Buro Happold. Livewire exploits the spatial potential of the existing venue and strives to define an expanded relationship between tectonic ex­­pres­­ sion and functional performance. www.oylerwu.com Unbuilt Toronto: The City That Could Have Been

November 5, 2008-January 11, 2009 This exhibition at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum includes juried images of unbuilt projects from practicing architects and designers that are juxtaposed against historical images of unrealized building

November 19, 2008 As part of Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism’s Forum lecture series, this lecture at Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada is delivered by Marco Petreschi, a “Roman architect”—in other words, a designer of buildings who, de­­ tached from the stylistic fashions that have held sway in Italy in the last few decades, has tenaciously followed an independent course. www.arch.carleton.ca Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

November 19-21, 2008 Taking place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Massachusetts, Green­­build is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. This year, attendees will learn more about LEED for Homes, a green home certification system for en­­sur­ing that homes are designed and built to be energyand resource-efficient and healthy for occupants. www.greenbuildexpo.org

from Rice University presents this lecture at 6:30 pm in Room 103 of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Archi­ tecture, Landscape and Design, Uni­ ver­sity of Toronto.

Cléophée Eaton Theatre, and ad­­mis­ sion is free. www.rom.on.ca

2008 Construct Canada

January 19, 2009 Jody Beck of the University of Pennsylvania and Gerald Sheff Visiting Professor in Archi­tecture presents this lecture at 6:00 pm in Room G10 of McGill University’s Macdonald-Harrington Building in Montreal. www.mcgill.ca/architecture/lectures/

December 3-5, 2008 The 20th edition of Canada’s largest annual trade show on building design, interior design, construction, housing, renovation and property management takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. www.constructcanada.com

The Kind of Problem a Landscape Is

Dan Hanganu lecture Boom Town

November 20-December 30, 2008 This exhibition at the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary features emerging artist Colin Lyons, who examines the transformative process of abandonment and the unpredictable manifestations of re­naissance inherent to a former boom town. Oscar Niemeyer 100: Architecture and its Meanders

November 25, 2008 Fares el-Dahdah

Illustrated Lecture: Unbuilt Toronto: The City That Might Have Been

December 4, 2008 To complement the exhibition at Toronto’s Royal Onta­ rio Museum, Mark Osbaldeston will deliver a companion lecture to his newly released book of the same name, exploring never-realized planning, transit and architectural schemes in and around Toronto, from the city’s founding to the 21st century. The lecture begins at 7:00 pm in the ROM’s Signy and

January 19, 2009 As part of Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism’s Forum lecture series, this lecture at Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada is delivered by Romanian-born and Montreal-based architect Dan Hanganu. www.arch.carleton.ca For more information about these, and additional listings of Canadian and international events, please visit www.canadianarchitect.com

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Wake-up Call

the senseless killing of a Montreal teenager last summer sparked anger in the community, and gives reason for designers to realize that social problems are often linked to design problems.

TEXT + PHOTOS

Photos taken of the memorial for Fredy Villanueva, the Montreal teenager shot by police last August.

ABOVE

Odile Hénault

Saturday, August 9, 2008: An 18-year-old student, Fredy Villanueva, was shot by the police in a park located in the Montreal North neighbourhood. The act was immediately denounced as excessive. Sunday, August 10, 2008: Violence erupts in the community, cars are set on fire, some businesses are ransacked and a number of arrests are made. Stunned by the riot, Montrealers are given a taste of what some European and American cities already know too well. Saturday, September 6, 2008: In a gesture of goodwill, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra performs its first outdoor concert ever in Montreal North. It was a meaningful moment though it did not attract the audience that it hoped to. Wednesday, September 17, 2008: At the borough council meeting, a group of concerned citizens ask for Mayor Marcel Parent’s resignation. The Mayor is stunned, but denies any responsibility. Police presence can be felt around City Hall, while the provincial police investigate the case. Around the world, there are cities where this series of events would have triggered an immediate interest on the part of schools of architecture eager to engage in such pertinent issues as low-income neighbourhoods, social exclusion and public space. Not so in Montreal. The killing of Fredy Villa­ nueva happened in the borough’s northeast end, an enclave along the north shore of Montreal Island with densities twice that of Montreal North’s average—where few amenities cater to young people and where public transportation falls well short of the optimal number of routes and frequency. When combined with large numbers of recent immigrants, single-parent families

and high rates of unemployment, the stage is set. Meanwhile, at McGill University, students come from all over the world to spend three or four years in Montreal, rarely extending themselves beyond the boundaries of a very limited downtown core. A few might venture as far as the fashionable Plateau area but none will hop on the subway and exit at Sauvé or Angrignon to just look around. Taking a bus into unknown territory and going as far as the park where Fredy was killed is nearly unimaginable. McGill is not alone in this. Students at the Université de Montréal might begin their course of study with wider horizons, but they seldom choose projects in areas such as Montreal North, Pierrefonds or Laval, neighbourhoods where some of them actually live. I suggest that our schools of architecture remind themselves that they are being subsidized by public funds and as such should start opening their eyes to the realities that surround them. I believe that our schools might benefit from a moratorium on downtown projects, with an obligation to find sites that are accessible only by bus and not just by subway. Perhaps then, teachers and students alike will start to understand the meaning of the word “responsibility” so that we all might benefit from the vast urban realities examined by our schools of architecture. CA Odile Hénault is an architectural critic, writer, professional advisor and occasionally teaches at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

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