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CANADIAN ARCHITECT RAIC GOLD MEDAL 2018

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Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte

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canadian architect

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04 Artificial terrains TEXT Mirko Zardini

07 Electric Black: The Works TEXT Graham Livesey

14 A Passion for Architecture TEXT

Olivier Vallerand

22 Absence TEXT Brian Carter

26 Words of appreciation TEXT

Larry Richards, David Theodore, Michael Cox and Essy Baniassad

29 an ineffable presence TEXT

Ricardo Castro

All drawings and models courtesy of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

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The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo. Photo by Marc Cramer; “ghost” added by Guillaume Sasseville.

COVER

The National Review of Design and Practice / The Official Magazine of the RAIC

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@Canadian centre for architecture

RAIC gold medal 2018

Foreword

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­­Editor (2017-2018) adele Weder, hon. mRAIC Editor (on leave) elsa lam, fRAIC Art Director Roy Gaiot assistant Editor Stefan novakovic Editorial Advisor Ian Chodikoff, OAA, FRAIC Contributing Editors Annmarie Adams, FRAIC Odile Hénault Douglas MacLeod, ncarb, MRAIC

Installation of the 2007 exhibition 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas, design by Saucier + Perrotte Architects, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. ABOVE

Artificial Terrains TEXT

Vice president & Senior Publisher Steve Wilson 416-441-2085 x105 sales MANAGER Faria Ahmed 416-441-2085 x106

Mirko Zardini

It was on a grey spring day in 2003 that I visited, for the first time, the grounds of the Collège Gérald-Godin with Gilles Saucier. It does not take long to drive from downtown Montréal to Saint-Geneviève, situated along the Prairies River on the north shore of the island. This project, completed in 1999, was an extension of the old 1932 Monastère des Pères de SainteCroix and already presented many themes that can be found in the work of Saucier + Perrotte to date—a capacity to integrate an existing context with a contemporary building in projects like the McGill School of Music; and an interest in the potential of landscape to mediate between very different edge conditions like in the artificial terrains surrounding the Perimeter Institute. In the Montréal Soccer Stadium, the idea of artificial terrain has extended to become the architecture itself. This treatment of landscape through the manipulation of surface and tectonic has become representative of a Canadian interpretation of a kind of landform building. Even in more urban projects, where the needs and ambitions of individuals, groups, government, and businesses meet and conflict, the work of Saucier + Perrotte has been able to conceptualize a complex landscape—or better, a kind of geological configuration—as a starting point for their work and investigations, as in their proposal for the Pavilion 5 of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This is an approach that has been appropriated inside the context of the campus as well, in the ground floor of the UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences building, for example. The River City project now under construction in Toronto, has also introduced new interpretations of a large-scale urban landscape, where their architecture has

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Regional Correspondents Halifax Christine Macy, OAA Regina Bernard Flaman, SAA Montreal David Theodore Calgary Graham Livesey, MRAIC Winnipeg Lisa Landrum, MAA, AIA, MRAIC

Customer Service / production laura moffatt 416-441-2085 x104

become a series of often black obstructions experienced in diverse ways along the highway, from the tighter urban grid below, and from the viewpoint of surrounding buildings. If one starts to think of a manifesto, or declaration, of intent behind the work of Saucier + Perrotte, they must also look at their exhibition for the 2004 Venice Biennale—one of the most meaningful contributions on behalf of Canada—that presented four of their projects as decontextualized models, and as objects recontextualized inside photographs of Canadian landscape; or, the 2007 exhibition design for 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas, in which the galleries at the Canadian Centre for Architecture were transformed into an entirely new terrain. Even when a project has no connection to an exterior environment, Saucier + Perrotte has been able to skillfully combine explorations in formal experimentation and a critical interpretation of new and pre-existing landscapes. Therefore, it is no surprise that Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte have been awarded the prestige of the 2018 RAIC Gold Medal. Their work represents a novel position inside an international dialogue for architecture today. I suppose it was this same appreciation that in 2003, led the Canadian Centre for Architecture to collect work by Saucier + Perrotte—projects and ideas that are now kept as a site for research, alongside the many significant archives of architects who have contributed to meaningful discourse and transformative shifts in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design.

Circulation circulation@canadianarchitect.com President of iq business media inc. Alex Papanou Head Office 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3 Telephone 416-441-2085 E-mail info@canadianarchitect.com Website www.canadianarchitect.com Canadian Architect is published monthly by iQ Business Media Inc.. The editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose. Subscription Rates Canada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (HST – #80456 2965 RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (prepaid with student ID, includes taxes): $27.00 for one year. USA: $105.95 US for one year. All other foreign: $125.95 US per year. Single copy US and foreign: $10.00 US. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3. 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 416-441-2085 x104 E-mail circulation@canadianarchitect.com Mail Circulation, 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302, Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3 Member of the Canadian Business Press Member of the ALLIANCE FOR AuditED MEDIA Publications Mail Agreement #43096012 ISSN 1923-3353 (Online) ISSN 0008-2872 (Print)

Mirko Zardini is the Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

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Electric Black: The Works of Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte

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Graham Livesey

In 1988, Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte, both graduates of the architecture program at the Université Laval in Quebec City, established their firm. Since then, the work of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes has figured among the most important produced in Canada. They emerged from the dynamic architectural scene that developed in Montreal during that period, and have become the most recognized Quebec firm of their generation. They have undertaken projects across the country, and have developed a strong international reputation, something historically difficult for Canadian practices to achieve. Saucier and Perrotte have always precisely understood and exploited the processes of designing and constructing exceptional buildings, very effectively using all the tools available to an architect.

The Silos No. 5 competition drawing from 2006 perfectly describes the essence of Saucier + Perrotte’s architecture: sleek forms and materials, a provocative engagement with landscape/context, expressive vertical circulation, a distinctive use of materials, spatial sophistication, a distinctive palette of colours which typically features black (and shades of grey) offset by electric colours and/or natural materials. The various objets trouvés from their 2004 Venice Biennale project, which interpret the designs of four of the firm’s schemes, also capture the fundamental qualities of the firm’s architecture. Saucier + Perrotte’s signature fondness for the colour black means that the clean surfaces of their buildings can appear as works of sophisticated design but also hint at darker, more ominous qualities. Offsetting this with scintillating

1 The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo. 2 Axonometric component drawing for Silos no. 5, Montreal Old Port proposal. 3 Conceptual model for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights competition, as shown in the exhibition “Found Objects” at the 2004 Venice Biennale of Architecture.

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Foyer of the Cinéma québécoise, Montreal. Auditorium of the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, Montreal. 3 Faculté de l’aménagement de l’Université de Montreal. 4 Collège Gérald-Godin. 1

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tones of yellow, orange, or green only enhances the affect, creating a contemporary sublime. This essay will briefly document their career to date through a series of key projects. Cinémathèque québécoise, Montreal, 1997 Much has been written about the young practices that came to the fore in Quebec in the 1980s and 1990s, a diverse and talented group that have won many awards in Quebec and Canada. Saucier + Perrotte initially established themselves with two Montreal theatre projects: the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, both completed in 1991. Even at this early stage the key elements of their approach were defined, as demonstrated in a very astute review of the two the-

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atres in Canadian Architect (September 1992) by Bruce Anderson. Writing about their material, colour and spatial accomplishments in the two projects, Anderson states that walls “are treated as separate receding plans and achieve rich planar and spatial interpenetrations...Several of the walls are canted, drawing the eye or body along or upwards to create a cavernous effect.” The most vital, and accomplished project of this formative period is their Cinémathèque québécoise, completed in 1997. Integrating two existing buildings, the design is cinematic—creating a remarkable setting for viewing, researching, discussing, and celebrating the artform; the café and courtyard created in the interstices of the scheme are vital gathering spaces. Surprisingly the firm has had difficulty

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in translating this early success in cultural projects for commissions to design museums, libraries, and galleries—their portfolio is littered with unsuccessful competition entries for these typologies. Collège Gérald-Godin, 1999 However, Saucier and Perrotte have had tremendous success in designing institutional projects primarily for colleges and universities. Their relatively early project for the 1997 Faculté d’Aménagement de l’Université de Montréal (with Menkès Shooner Dagenais) shows them intelligently transforming and extending a former convent building into a design school. A more daring addition to a former Jesuit monastery is found in their slightly later Collège Gérald-Godin (1999, with Des-

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noyers Mercure). As Kurt W. Forster noted, in his August 2000 Canadian Architect magazine review of the Collège Gérald-Godin, Saucier and Perrotte are interested in creating environments that evoke “ceaselessly shifting perceptions.” This is captured in the organization of the program and the complex surfaces of the addition. These two early works, which involved transforming existing buildings, ultimately led to a series of institutional projects across the country, including the Communication, Culture & Information Technology Building at the University of Toronto at Mississauga (2004), the Schulich School of Music at McGill University (2005), and the more recent Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia with HCMA Architecture + Design (2012).

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UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vancouver. Jardin des premières nations, Montreal. 3 Perimeter Insitute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo. 4S  chulich School of Music interior, McGill University, Montreal. 5 Scandinave les bains, Montreal. 6 Stade de soccer, Montreal. 1

Jardin des premières nations, Montreal, 2001 In 2001 the firm completed a pavilion in Montréal’s Botanical Garden, an ode to the First Nations communities of the region and a commemoration of the Great Peace of Montreal—the peace treaty between New France and 39 First Nations of North America, signed in 1701. The project showcases the lyrical aspects of the architecture of Saucier and Perrotte, and their willingness to engage site, history, and artifacts. Situated between forests and creating a path, the pavilion features the outdoor exhibit of First Nations artifacts in vitrines; the f loating and complex concrete roof provides a metaphorical landmark feature in the landscape. The notion of designing for exhibitions was followed up with designs for the 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas show at the

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CCA in 2007 and the Denis Gagnon Shows All exhibition at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in 2010. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, 2004 In my view, the most significant project to date in their impressive portfolio is the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo from 2004. The firm was selected to design the international research centre, which was initially funded by Blackberry founder Mike Lazaridis. Located on a nebulous site on the edge of Silver Lake close to two other important public institutions, the project creates an artificial landscape atop which sits the building organized in three primary east-west bands. The southern zone, with its remarkable science-inspired façade, houses

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administration; the northern band presents a staggered array of cubic offices (a device used in many subsequent projects) and the middle creates a public atrium zone. The design brings all of the devices Saucier + Perrotte has so carefully cultivated into a unified whole, an environment intended to inspire scientific collaboration and breakthrough; an addition to the Perimeter Institute was completed by Teeple Architects in 2011. Scandinave les bains, Montreal, 2009 Saucier and Perrotte have also established a reputation for the design of interiors, including the Michel Brisson and Philippe Dubuc clothing boutiques, the recent Stikeman Elliot law offices, and their own offices in 2007. The interiors tend to involve working in existing spaces that are

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carefully stripped out, and re-envisioned through the insertion of specific materials, colours, and lighting. The results are dark and luminous, precise and minimal. Their most significant interior is the Scandinave les Bains in Old Montreal from 2009. Devoted to restoring the body, the spa plays off hot and cold, through the subtle manipulation of spaces, materials, and surfaces. Housed in a former warehouse, the project brings a sensual experience to an urban context. Stade de soccer de MontrĂŠal, 2015 Saucier and Perrotte have formed a very productive partnership with Vancouver-based HCMA Architecture + Design, which has resulted in several provocative projects. It is rare that two well-recognized design firms can

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Saint-Laurent sports complex, Montreal. Rendering of River City Phase 3 condo and townhouse development, Toronto. 3 New College Student Residence, Toronto. 4 UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences foyer. 1

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unite in such a productive manner. The 2015 Stade de soccer in Montreal captures this collaboration, reflecting Saucier + Perrotte’s long-held interest in engaging both natural and artificial topographies. Sandwiched between the former Miron quarry and a major street, the scheme features a complex continuous roof supported by a glulam structure, that shelters an indoor soccer pitch while also embracing an outdoor field. This partnership has resulted in Saucier + Perrotte entering the realm of sports architecture, and has been followed up by the 2017 Saint-Laurent sports complex. River City, Toronto, 2015-present Although Saucier + Perrotte has designed a number of noteworthy houses, their more substantial foray into housing began in 2003, with the

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New College Student housing complex at the University of Toronto. From there, they produced schemes such as the 2010 Thompson Residences in Toronto and 439 McGill in Montreal, in 2014. While not a large component of their portfolio, it has resulted in the massive, multi-phase River City project in Toronto (with ZAS Architects). Located in the West Dons area of Toronto, the project involves 1,000 units developed in four phases. Phase 1 was completed in 2013; Phase 2 in 2015; and Phases 3 and 4 are currently under construction The 28-storey tower for Phase 3 creates a sig­ nature element, with white and black expressed units uniquely pushing and pulling against each other. Clearly, in the case of a commercial venture such as River City, Saucier and Perrotte were hired to bring their distinctive design approach to the project, a testimony to their reputation.

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Conclusion Recipients of numerous awards for their work, and widely published, Saucier + Perrotte’s architecture has been impressive since the beginning for its clarity and consistency. It is unusal that a firm establishes such a distinctive approach early on, and is able to steadily evolve that approach with continued success. Beyond the elemental sophistication of their architecture, it should be emphasized that they are always able to find bold solutions to program and site; solutions that result in electrifying a context. This is no doubt because of their being embedded in the cultural and architectural fabric of Montreal. By extension Saucier + Perrotte will continue to occupy a vital position in contemporary Canadian culture.

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Jacques Rousseau wrote in June 2000 that Saucier + Perrotte “do not convey depth by means of the mass of things, but through the filters that separate them.” One of these filters that contributes to the depth in Saucier and Perrotte’s architecture is their signature use of colour, particularly black. Black can be difficult to use, as it represents the absence of colour. Black suggests many qualities including power, ambiguity, formality, death, and even rebellion. In the architecture of Saucier + Perrotte, it creates mystery, intimacy, and timelessness. Graham Livesey, MRAIC is a Professor in the Master of Architecture Program at the Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.

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A Passion for

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The professional journey of Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte

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Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte have built an impressive legacy based on close relationships: with clients, with partners, and—most of all—between themselves. The two met during their studies at Université Laval’s architecture school in the early 1980s. In 1988, while working for Cayouette Saia in Montréal, they realized a goal they had since their university days and started their practice. This desire to achieve what they see as important for them and their clients, combined with their shared appreciation of drawing and making, characterizes their career and practice. While their partnership is often characterized by Saucier’s role as design partner and Perrotte’s expertise in coordinating and managing design and construction development, they truly work in symbiosis around a shared sensibility and passion for architecture. The pleasure they have of working together is palpable, in the way Saucier effusively approves and completes Perrotte’s precise comments. Saucier and Perrotte kickstarted their career with a film production facility in an existing building in Montréal’s Plateau district. The rec-

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ognition won by this project combined with a boom in theatre production in Montreal led to Saucier + Perrotte being commissioned to design extensive transformations for the Théâtre du Rideau Vert and the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (both 1991) that attracted more visibility for the young firm. These projects also established the firm’s restrained language from the beginning, in reaction to the post-modernism that was visible in much of Montreal’s design at the time. This commitment to a contemporary reading of modernism first appeared while they were in university, challenging the post-modern tenets that were still inf luencing studio education. “We studied during a time when we were rejecting some things,” says Saucier. “We wanted to return to something closer to the great modernists, which had an impact on our approach. At the beginning, we surprised people because we were working with a sort of synthesis of these references.” Perrotte adds: “We have been extraordinarily lucky to have started during this period where there was a moment

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1 The studio office of Saucier + Perrotte Architectes in Montreal’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Owned by the firm, the 70-year-old industrial building is equipped with a model-making workshop and other amenities conducive to research and creative thought. 2 Gilles Saucier and AndrÊ Perrotte at work.

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Usine C, designed as a home base of the Montreal-based dance troupe Carbone 14. 2 Sketch for Collège Gerald-Godin. 3M  odel for Orford Arts Centre. 1

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of both rejection and renewal. This fed us. The desire to change things motivated us a lot.” These early projects have shaped their practice by giving them the opportunity to work with creative clients that left space for them to experiment and take their time going through the design process, while dealing with small but complex programs. They also consider themselves lucky to have worked on public buildings early on. “You give them to people,” notes Perrotte. “They are not private residences with a hidden bedroom, they are public immediately. From opening day, people will go inside, form an opinion, like it or be shocked, it depends, but they will have an opinion on these buildings designed for the community, for a collectivity.” Saucier further argues that “it allowed us to express a personality in the public sphere, which means more press, more media presence and our work better known to a broader audience.” Two decades later, they are still very proud of the quality of these early projects, even if some of them have already been transformed

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since then—sometimes in ways that Saucier has been vocally decrying, such as the lighting added to the façade of the Cinémathèque Québécoise (1997). In other cases, such as the celebrated Usine C completed in 1995 for experimental performance company Carbone 14, the relation with the client has been sustained over their whole career, with ongoing discussions around any modifications needed for the building. For them, this project exemplifies the kind of collaboration that they hope for in every project, where clients and architects find each other and create a sense of belonging. Saucier + Perrotte quickly moved to education and research buildings. They won in the 1994 competition to expand the Université de Montréal’s Faculté de l’aménagement building, with Menkès Shooner Dagenais, beating well-known local architects, including their former employer, Mario Saia. These early projects continued to show how Saucier and Perrotte were interested in integrating a contemporary modern language while keeping traces of the existing building. Accord-

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ing to Saucier, they first mastered this with Usine C, where they kept elements that could trigger feelings and memories associated with the disaffected jam factory in a working-class area of Montreal. Furthermore, Saucier and Perrotte have not feared the kind of gesture that is needed to build a new heritage, something that was celebrated in their design for the Collège Gérald-Godin (1999, with Desnoyers Mercure). Gérald-Godin and other larger-scale projects were also an opportunity to develop a language that reinterpret and synthesize Canadian modernism and its relation to landscape, taking inspiration for example from Arthur Erickson’s mastery of a brutalist architecture that responds to its environment. For them, envisioning architecture as an act of reading the landscape and creating buildings that emerge from the landscape is an integral way in which architecture can become contextual. Looking at the first decade of their practice, they explored the question of what was preserved from childhood in one’s adult practice in the exhibition Childhood Landscape, Topographical Unfolding (2001), which linked the firm’s design process to Saucier’s memories of the Kamouraska landscape where he grew up. The large photographic panoramas created for the exhibition are now placed in the firm’s office, highlighting their importance to their approach. This exhibition was also an opportunity to reflect on their working process that combines Sauci-

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er’s use of photography as inspiration—using geologic and biologic elements as sources—with Perrotte’s interest in drawing and representation. Despite the introduction of digital tools, analog models are still today at the heart of Saucier + Perrotte’s practice. The models are hand-made, often by Saucier himself, in a large workshop that takes up much of their office’s first f loor. Used at every stage of a project’s development, they see models as the fastest way to crystalize an idea, but also as a useful tool to keep a complete look at the project throughout its design—to suggest materiality and to represent in depth the ideas behind it. This was highlighted in their exhibition Found Objects at the 2004 Venice Biennale, in which they presented a selection of them as artifacts of their process. Models are also used in discussions with clients, as an easier tool to understand than drawings. For them, it presents the process rather than a final product, in line with the importance they place on creating a dialogue with the clients. The sophisticated interpretation of landscape developed over the first half of their practice brought Saucier and Perrotte growing recognition, leading to their first building outside of Québec, the 2004 Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, which won the Chicago Athenaeum’s 2008 International Architecture Award. Saucier + Perrotte is one of the rare Quebec practices to have ventured outside of the province. For them, it seemed an obvious move, even though it was—in Saucier’s word—“perilous”. But if clients were interested in their work and they could find a common interest with them, they deemed it worth the risk. This expanded recognition—and particularly the opportunity to work on research and academic buildings—led them to explore new contexts, to interpret new landscapes. The Perimeter Institute, like Gérald-Godin before, exemplifies how, even when moving away from cultural projects, Saucier and Perrotte

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 onceptual model of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, C as exhibited at the 2004 Venice Biennale for Architecture. 2 Sketch for Jardins des premières nations. 3 Rendering for the McGill University Arts Building. 4 Shelves holding models at the Montreal office of Saucier + Perrotte. 1

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have sought to retain a constant desire to innovate. They thus talk of how their belief in architecture as an act of creation, as a process that reveals something, differentiates them from a stream of “decorative corporate” architecture. As Québec architects, Saucier notes, they could “offer this difference, not necessarily stylistically, but methodologically.” “I would even say that this is maybe our only ‘corporate’ moment,” adds Perrotte. “Universities look for architects as orchestras look for a conductor. They seek something that will make a difference. Their investment must pay. I respect and understand this: a university building must attract excellence.” Being considered “signature architects” whose names and buildings can be used by institutions for fundraising and talent recruitment is not a contradiction for them, as these projects allow them to express their process of creativity and also to promote the values of knowledge and

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collaboration that they share with these clients. “Universities are the embodiment of what we hoped for in school and from the beginning of our practice: knowledge, and how it can be used by modern companies where collaboration is essential,” as Perrotte says. “How people work today in collegiality, we have always worked like that,” says Saucier. “We have never wanted to organize the firm in a hierarchical way. If a ‘corporate’ firm is a large pyramid, we are a group of small pyramids.” Perrotte proclaims simultaneously with Saucier that “each project becomes a small cell,” before Saucier concludes that they “are both involved in each of these smaller offices within the broader office.” In my discussion with them, I repeatedly hear this idea of a collaborative practice, where everyone is invited to express themselves and to contribute to projects in which they are not officially directly involved. For the two architects, these opportunities to take time to discuss and

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think together is a major legacy of their time at architecture school. This opportunity for convening is at the core of the design for their own office, which they purchased and moved to in 2007 to allow the firm to “breathe,” in Saucier’s words, and to be free from real estate pressure. The open plan and large blackboards of their office’s second floor allow everyone to participate and comment on other teams’ projects. Similar to early projects like Usine C, their office’s location in a transformed mid-twentieth-century clothing manufacturer—where Saucier also lives—in the Mile Ex area of Montreal contributes to the renewal of the neighbourhood and integrates their contemporary language within the existing building. They see their size, which peaked around the time of the Perimeter Institute’s design and has since stabilized around 20 people, as perfect for keeping their practice flexible, allowing them to produce intensely during certain periods before taking some down time to recharge. It also allows everyone in the office to work on everything, with new employees cutting their teeth on smaller projects while they learn to understand the firm’s process. Past employees remember the hard work, but also the talent of the people assembled by Saucier and Perrotte and the sense of belonging.

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Thomas Balaban, who worked for them in the early 2000s before starting his own practice, mentions that they “managed to maintain a very intimate working environment even as the scale of staff and the scale of the projects got bigger.” Unlike other innovative practitioners, Saucier and Perrotte have not built their practice mostly through competitions. While they have won a few, their favorite and most important buildings are those where they have had a very close working relationship with their clients, something that a competition can’t bring. “Gilles is good at listening and observing and then retreating to do the synthesis on this,” says Gerry McGeough, who represented UBC during the design of their 2012 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, designed in joint venture with HCMA . However, Saucier notes that in Quebec, “what is left today is a field that has divided in two, between ‘corporate generalists’ and ‘competition architects.’ In this context, we can’t argue against competitions as we are not ‘corporate generalists’ and we thus absolutely need to do competitions if we cannot get projects through direct commissions.” Perrotte adds a caveat: “There are so many competitions in Québec, because we have had a cultural policy where every cultural project was required to be a competition. But these projects were already good to begin with. Architects and clients were already collaborating well on them. So we architects were questioning why all the other projects

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were not done as competitions, since they were often the less interesting buildings.” As the range of competitions broadens, they have thus seen them as opportunities to work on typologies that they had not had access to, such as the sports centres of recent years, but they believe that they should be extended to even more building types. The fact that ultimately few of Saucier + Perrotte’s built projects have emerged from competitions is not only linked to their mixed feelings towards a typical competition process that keeps them away from the client during the design stage, but also from their bad luck with the competitions they have won. All architects must deal with losing, but

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Saucier and Perrotte have also had to say goodbye to competition projects for which they had actually won, either because the project was cancelled (in the case of Ottawa’s Bank Street building, in joint venture with Cohos-Evamy and Dunlop), because the jury’s decision was disregarded by the federal government (for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, with Dunlop Farrow), or because of a major donor’s preference for another architect (for the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art in Calgary, designed with Marc Boutin, a project later cancelled when the donor died). They have, however, always resolved to move on quickly and positively channel that energy into other projects.

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Model for the Bank Street Building, Ottawa Parliament Hill. Sketch for the UBC Pharmaceuticals Building. 3 Rendering of Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal proposal, slated for completion in 2021. 1

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Surprisingly for such a high-profile firm, they had yet to design a museum, something that had long been on their wish list. That their recent win of the competition for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal expansion comes at the same time as the RAIC Gold Medal thus makes them very optimistic. They feel it is a reassuring sign that they are recognized while they are still a very active firm, highlighted by the recent appointment of two long-term team members, Trevor Davies and Dominique Dumais, as associates. Saucier and Perrotte still have much to explore. They emphasize that the Gold Medal was given to their team as a whole, recognizing the teamwork symbolized by the “plus” sign in the firm’s name. Their studio has proven to be a space where new talents can develop: the number of architects that have launched award-winning

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firms after working with them, such as Maxime Frappier, Sergio Morales, Thomas Balaban and Yves de Fontenay, is proof. “They open­ ed the door by pushing the limits, by creating projects that interested people and introduced them to contemporary architecture—projects designed here, with our budgets, but with an international visibility,” notes Frappier, who worked in their office in the early 2000s before founding acdf *. “For many architects, it gave us a reason to believe that it was possible.” Saucier is thus proud to say that “we think we’ve become a model, in a certain way, for later generations in showing that it is possible to create a recognized entity from the ground up, building only on our friendship and passion for architecture.” Olivier Vallerand is an architect with 1x1x1 Creative Lab in Montreal and Quebec City, and a visiting post-doctoral scholar at University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design.

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Brian Carter

“The interesting thing about modern architecture in French Canada is its apparent absence.”

The award of the 2018 RAIC Gold Medal to Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte emphatically dispels any suggestion of an apparent absence of modern architecture in French Canada. This national recognition and the view of contemporary Canadian architecture identifies two notable architects and an inspiring portfolio of work. Charney’s assertion of “apparent absence” may arguably have been prompted by remote territory, extreme weather, socio-economic struggles, cultural identity and particularities of language. An examination of current architecture in Quebec reveals a thriving culture of design, enlightened clients and impressive educational initiatives with notable professional offices and emerging practices that together comprise the largest and most diverse community of registered architects in Canada. That particular context is fundamental to the work of Saucier and Perrotte. When they established their practice in 1988 they had, like many young architects, a handful of commissions to design modest projects. However, proposals for the interiors of restaurants, shops and apartments were quickly followed by other strikingly different commissions. Invitations from Montreal’s thriving arts communities reflected efforts to define cultural identity in Quebec. Those commissions, though modest, were also complex. Not only did they demand the re-use of existing buildings to accommodate radically different activities but also posed questions of acoustics, environmental systems, performance and access to be solved in the context of stringent budgets. It was work that demanded radical invention. Saucier and Perrotte received their first commission to design spaces for public performance in 1990. The Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui—an experimental company committed to the production of Quebecoise drama— needed new space to accommodate actors, performance and audiences of 300 people. The architects ingeniously adapted a former residential building in Montreal and the project opened a year later. This prompted a request to design facilities for Théâtre Rideau Vert—Quebec’s oldest theatre company—and the creation of a new auditorium for 426 people with improved front of house facilities and an entrance with a distinct presence on Montreal’s Rue St. Denis. Subsequently the Montreal-based troupe Carbone 14 invited Saucier and Perrotte to develop plans for the reuse of a redundant factory in Montreal’s east end to house studios and a 450-seat theatre—a project where the new was contrasted starkly with former industrial spaces that were, in turn, reshaped by “invented archeology.” These commissions demanded ingenious responses from the architects to address complex technical requirements. Saucier and Perrotte were

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éric piché

—Melvin Charney, “Modern Movements in French-Canadian Architecture,” Process Architecture No.5 (Tokyo, 1978)

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John Abbott College, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec. 4 Cinématèque québécoise, street façade.

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Stade de soccer, Montreal. Stade de soccer interior. 3 John Abbott College, Anne-Marie Edward Science Building. 4 John Abbott College interior. 5 House in the Laurentians . 6 Jardin des premières nations. 1

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Marc Cramer

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Brian Carter, FRAIC (Hon) is a graduate of the University of Toronto and registered architect in the United Kingdom, and a Professor of Architecture at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

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also able to create impressive civic spaces that celebrated movement, performance and the inherent spectacle of theatre. New auditoria were expressed as emphatic containers and the movement of people made possible by generous entrances and processional routes celebrated actors and audience alike. This distinctive body of work, completed in the first five years of their practice, created a portfolio of public architecture deeply rooted in French Canada. Simultaneously it asserted a distinctive presence of modern Canadian architecture. In 1998 a commission to design a new Cinemathèque Québécoise required the architects to consider the moving image. With a focus on film, their design created new glassy boxes wedged between existing masonry buildings. The design of these interlocked spaces in the heart of the city, at the junction of Boulevard de Maisonneuve and Rue Sanguinet, was inspired by light and developed to project moving images and blur distinctions. Within the building, viewer and viewed became ambiguous, film was brought out of the dark and luminous screens projected moving images throughout the building and into the city. An invitation to participate in a limited competition to design a new Canadian Embassy in Germany a year later further projected awareness of Saucier and Perrotte’s work. Sought out by other clients, the architects subsequently saw the completion of a range of significant projects. The new Gerald Godin College at Sainte-Geneviève was a commission that presented the architects with a complex program of activities together with the renovation, re-use and extension of a large historic building and consideration of a site beyond the city and set in nature. The architects reconstructed historic structures, designed assertive new buildings and actively engaged landscape in compelling ways. At about the same time a request to design a First Nations Garden Pavilion in Montreal presented challenges to considerations of building type, culture, materiality and landscape. The development of a strand of space that provided protected settings for significant artifacts, yet at the same time located them within the natural landscape alongside a lake framed by deciduous and evergreen forests, to present a fundamental reconsideration of the pavilion in the context of indigenous cultural references. Commissions to design a new college building for the University of Toronto and the Perimeter Institute in Ontario directed the work of Saucier and Perrotte beyond Quebec while demanding the invention of a contemporary architecture that defined unique institutions. The architects’ formulation of a long, spectacular wall of glazed workspaces in Waterloo hinted at the scale of the initiative and a conspicuous openness. Through this work, Gilles Saucier and Andre Perrotte have significantly advanced concepts and considerations of contemporary civic architecture. Their early explorations of performance, spectacle and the moving image in the context of modest interventions and economy has created impressive spaces where people could meet, play and work. Subsequent projects—large, new buildings located across Canada and beyond—have established new institutions while thoughtfully considering cultures, identities and typologies. In their search to build institutions and create cities, the work of Saucier and Perrotte is particularly inspiring when viewed against the assertive objects and anonymous skylines created by global capitalism.

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Second, the firm produces good architects. In the lore of Montreal architecture, the role as the go-to office for young ambitious talented designers to learn the ropes has passed from ARCOP to Peter Rose to Saia Barbarèse to S+P. A stint with André and Gilles has marked the trajectories of Quebec’s best new practices, including Chevalier Morales, acdf*, TBA and Pelletier de Fontenay. Producing good architecture means producing good architects. olivier blouin

David Theodore is Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Health, and Computation, Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University.

Essy Baniassad, FRAIC

TRIBUTES Larry Wayne Richards, FRAIC Throughout the world, our epoch is characterized architecturally by utter confusion. Collectively, the vast range of ideologies represented, technologies engaged, volumes sculpted, surfaces tortured, and zooty affectations employed in new buildings can be seen as either fascinating or revolting. I suppose it depends on whether one thrives on or loathes chaos. I’m not a fan of chaos, in architecture or elsewhere. So it pleases me when moments of architectural and urban harmony—places of beauty— appear within the global landscape of constructed confusion. Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte bravely resist the architectural status quo, creating magnificent islands of clarity and inspiration. For nearly three decades, I have watched their projects unfold, such as the spare yet elegant Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) Building (2004) at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and their distinctive, black and white River City project (2013-2017) in Toronto’s West Don Lands. These are sophisticated, calming places. Indeed, the work of Saucier + Perrotte represents to me the kind of high point that architecture in Canada can achieve, and it makes me happy to add my congratulations on the occasion of their receiving the RAIC’s 2018 Gold Medal. Larry Wayne Richards is Professor and Dean Emeritus, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto

David Theodore, MRAIC Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte have made two contributions to architecture in Canada that merit special recognition. First, they promote good architecture. In my experience as a critic, Gilles is as persuasive as famous proselytizers such as Jacques Herzog and Bruce Mau. He is prepared, speaks honestly, and gives good quotes. Saucier and Perrotte know that if Montreal, Quebec, and Canada become known for good architecture, their reputation will also rise, and they aspire to be the best among the best.

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Gilles and André have explored a consistent and clear technical and aesthetic approach to architecture as a medium of civic function and public art. In its bold ideas yet subtle and understated expression, it is an outstanding Canadian contribution to architecture—in sharp contrast to a trend of boisterous forms in the fashion of architecture as consumer product. I first became aware of this as a defining quality of Gilles’ architecture in 1988 Canadian Berlin Embassy design competition. Though their jury-selected scheme would remain unbuilt, its restless and research-intensive design concept embodied the bold reaches and explorations that would unfold in their subsequent work. It projected the compositional qualities that capture the subtle yet real aspects that distinguish the French-Canadian culture as reflected in architecture as art.   Any work in architecture or indeed any field at its highest level rises above its immediate medium and reaches the level of a work of art.  In Canadian architecture few works lead to this realization as much as their First Nations Pavilion at the Montreal Botanical Garden, or the Saint-Laurent Sports Complex. I congratulate Gilles and Andre on this well-merited recognition.  Essy Baniassad is currently Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University.

Michael Cox, FRAIC The work of Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte demonstrates that, in addition to meeting functional requirements, architecture can make an essential contribution to public life. The fact that they have won, among many other awards, ten Governor General’s Medals in Architecture over a 30-year career is evidence of the quality of design they bring to each project, whether an academic building, a research facility or a private house. Through their presence in the culture of architecture in Canada, as manifested by their built work, their assistance in organizing exhibitions, and their thought-provoking competition entries, Saucier and Perrotte have contributed much to the public recognition of architecture’s value to society—why architecture matters! We are proud to recognize their many achievements with the 2018 RAIC Gold Medal. Michael Cox is Principal of Michael J. Cox Architect and the President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

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Endnote

An Ineffable and Immediate Presence Ricardo L. Castro

ABOVE Jardin de Montréal à Shanghai. below/next page Marc Cramer’s Kamouraska photomural, now installed in the firm’s office , previously exhibited in Childhood Landscape/Topographical in Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa and Buffalo from 2002-2004.

Marc Cramer

Gilles Saucier and I coincidentally arrived in Montreal in 1982. We had both been living in Quebec City, where he had just graduated from Laval University’s School of Architecture and where I myself had just finished a six-year stint as a professor, before moving to Montreal to continue my teaching career at McGill University. While at Laval, I had the pleasure of teaching Gilles in his first year design studio and later, during his final year, of becoming his thesis supervisor. I still remember well his final project: a library in the town of La Pocatière, in the beautiful region of Kamouraska on the South shore of the lower St. Lawrence River. In the few occasions I have had the opportunity of passing by that city, Gilles’s thesis library resonates in my memories. An emphasis on topography was quite present in Gilles’s student project. I recall his mention of the mountain in the middle of the La Pocatiére, which created a unique site condition. So later, as I’ve followed the career of Gilles and André, it has not surprised me that topography and geology have been critical design parameters in Saucier + Perrotte’s architectural realizations. The theoretical library, as it often happens in this type of final project, exhibited the characteristics of built projects to come. But unlike most of final academic projects, Gilles’ thesis library breathed that sense of ineffable and immediate presence, which has lived in my memory all these years. I believe it has subsequently characterized the professional works realized under Saucier + Perrotte architectes. Gilles and I would only reestablish our contact when he and André Perrotte, also one of my former students at Laval, established their firm

claude cormier + Associés

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endnote

André Perrotte and Gilles Saucier in 1988 at their first office in the Plateau Mont-Royal area, shortly after launching their eponymous firm.

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in 1988. And then I watched as Gilles, André and their team rigorously developed an architectural practice that has become internationally renowned and respected. Their built works are a rigorous and precise demonstration of the wish to explore new materials and techniques and to relate to the topography in order to create new architectural entities. Their work is an extraordinary melding of surroundings with the new building, while allowing both the surroundings and the architecture to show their character and presence. In 2003, I wrote a short review in Canadian Architect of two of their projects: the Shanghai Montreal Garden Multimedia Showcase Pavilion, completed in 2000 with landscape architects Claude Cormier + Associés, and the First Nations Pavilion in the Botanical Garden of Montreal, completed in 2001. I described them as “excellent representatives of a current preoccupation with buildings that allow the making of connections with personal narratives and with history, as these ultimately become inscribed in or elicited by the topography and the landscape. This practice might well be named syndesis (not to be con-

fused with synthesis) from the Greek, which is a process dictated by the urge to bind together.” To me, syndesis is clearly evident in their work. For 30 years, Saucier + Perrotte’s work has provided the architectural community worldwide with wonderful opportunities to elicit commentary and criticism and to be publicly discussed in newspapers, magazines and journals. The 100-plus awards and prizes and the hundreds of articles in leading architectural periodicals speak of the firm’s immediate and pervasive presence. I feel honoured to have the privilege of reflecting in Canadian Architect on Saucier + Perrotte’s latest achievement of the 2018 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Gold Medal—a different kind of triumph from their architectural realizations. It is an achievement that exemplifies the term ineffable, a quality that works of great significance have always shared. Ricardo L. Castro, RCA, FRAIC is an Associate Professor at the Peter Gua-Huo Fu School of Architecture, McGill University.

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Canadian Architect RAIC Gold Medal 2018  

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

Canadian Architect RAIC Gold Medal 2018  

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