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ph o t o cred it

Mich a el Gr imm

Urban Infrastructure

canadian architect

January 2019 03

6 Viewpoint

Sidewalk Labs rethinks the way neighbourhoods work, reports editor Elsa Lam.

7 News

Manon Asselin wins Prix Ernest-Cormier; Union Station Food Court opens in Toronto; RAIC releases Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium report.

10 long view

The interactive VR piece Biidaaban: First Light time-jumps into a radically different Toronto of the future.

26 review

Annmarie Adams reviews the current CCA exhibition Architecture Itself and Other Postmodern Myths.


12 New Central Library

 haped by the LRT line underneath it, a streamlined building by Snøhetta with S DIALOG is a new civic hub for downtown Calgary. TEXT Graham Livesey

18 Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension

Shai Gil

 ix new stations expand Toronto’s subway system into the outer suburbs, and offer S valuable case studies in transit design. TEXT Paul Kulig

Mich a el R ey n o l d s. Beer -c a n bu il d in g bl o ck s, Ea r t h sh ip Bio t ec t u r e, 1973. © Mic h a el R ey n o l d s. Ph o t o : El ise Win d so r © CCA

30 insites

Douglas MacLeod explores architecture’s pivotal role in the platformbased infrastructure of the future.

32 Calendar

Conferences, exhibitions and lectures across Canada and beyond.

34 backpage

Christian Kliegel visits the enigmatic artwork Three Points Where Two Lines Meet . New Central Library, Calgary, by Snøhetta with DIALOG. Photo by


Michael Grimm. v.64 n.01


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

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A rendering of Sidewalk Labs’ proposed tall timber district on the Toronto waterfront.


Sidewalk Toronto A significant experiment in smart city design is being proposed in Toronto. Sidewalk Labs— a Google affiliate—is partnering with Waterfront Toronto to create a mixed-use community on a 12-acre site east of downtown. There has been political turmoil over the project, amidst concerns about how the project was awarded, the ownership of the data collected by the district’s sensors, and who stands to profit from the intellectual property that the project generates. But in the meanwhile, it’s worth looking at the panoply of groundbreaking architectural innovations that Sidewalk has been developing. The initial site plan includes a dozen mass timber buildings, including two 30-storey structures. Sidewalk worked with architect Michael Green, engineers Equilibrium and Aspect, and manufacturers to develop a kit of parts for building with mass timber. They then sent that toolkit to two other architects—Snøhetta and Thomas Heatherwick— to test how it could be deployed. Gh3*, Teeple Architects, and Dubbledam Architecture have worked on concept designs for the residential units in the buildings, which would have exposed wood surfaces. “We really want to grow the local talent, so that this isn’t just a district, but expands as far as it can across the country,” says Karim Khalifa, Director of Buildings Innovation at Sidewalk Labs. On a larger scale, Sidewalk plans to develop a digital configurator that could work with the kit of parts to generate mass timber design options (along with cost and time estimates) for any given site. The BIM models could be refined by an architect, and eventually transmitted directly to a manufacturer for off-site production, speeding construction and reducing waste. “Every piece of the building basically has a serial number,” says Khalifa, “so if there’s a problem with some element, you would know where those trees came from and what production line they were in, and could look to see if that impact is on any other piece of the building.” The podium levels of Sidewalk’s building are envisaged to allow for flexible use by retail,

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Editor el sa la m, f RAIC Art Director R o y Gaio t associate Editor Stef an no v ak o vic

production, arts and community spaces. Apart from the de rigeur glass garage doors, they include six-metre-high ceilings that can allow for mezzanines, and a flexible wall system that Sidewalk is developing. Sidewalk pinpointed the installation of utilities as a barrier to entry for pop-up tenants. That led them to propose installing a digital power system—a new technology which runs on wires without conduit, and can deliver up to 2,000 watts. They’re also planning on a sprinkler system that uses flexible tubes rather than pipes for easy reconfiguration. The development aims for a 75-85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard developments. This is partly achieved through automated building energy management systems—digital systems that optimize the use of energy—as well as renewable sources including photovoltaic panels, geothermal wells, and sewer heat recovery. Some of Sidewalk’s most interesting proposals are underground. A district-wide vacuum system would collect waste. Recyclables and compostable material would be sorted partly by residents, and partly through an automated system that Sidewalk is developing, which will use machine-learning to increase its capabilities over time. To further reduce above-ground traffic, freight would be distributed through tunnels in the neighbourhood using a robotic system. Parcels would arrive at a single point, from which robots would sort and consolidate parcels, transport them to each building, and place them in a rack system in each building’s freight elevator. The items would be delivered to a designated room on each floor for residents to pick up. There are significant political, regulatory and practical issues to address before any of this becomes reality. But one can marvel at these ambitious proposals, which together take a wide scope in rethinking the way that neighbourhoods—and on a larger scale, cities—might function. Elsa Lam

Contributing Editors A nn marie A da ms, FRAIC O dile H éna ul t D ou gla s Mac L eod , nc ar b, MRAIC Regional Correspondents Montreal David T heodore Calgary Graha m L ive sey, MRAIC Winnipeg L isa L andru m, MAA , AIA , MRAIC vancouver adele weder, H on. MRAIC Vice president & Senior Publisher Steve Wil son 416-441-2085 x105 sales MANAGER F aria A h med 416-441-2085 x106 Customer Service / production la ura moff att 416-441-2085 x104 Circulation circula tion@c anadianarchitect

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President of iq business media inc. A lex Papanou Head Office 101 D unc an Mill R o ad , Suite 302 T oront o , ON M3B 1Z3 Telephone 416-441-2085 E-mail Website C anadian A rchitect is published monthly by iQ Business Media Inc.. T he 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 C anada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (H ST – #80456 2965 RT 0001). Price per single copy: $15.00. U SA : $135.95 U SD for one year. International: $205.95 U SD per year. Single copy for U SA : $20.00 U SD ; International: $30.00 U SD. 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 Mail C irculation, 101 Duncan Mill R oad, Suite 302, T oronto, 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)

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PROJECTS Ground broken for Provencher_Roy’s Symphonia POP on Nuns’ Island

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In December, Développements Symphonia held the official groundbreaking ceremony kicking off construction of Symphonia POP, a residential tower featuring modular dwelling units on the southern tip of Nuns’ Island in Montreal. Designed by Provencher_Roy, the tower’s modular suites are characterized by superimposed cubes, or “pops” along the exterior. “We’ve given the project an innovative, modern and bright character that stands out like a lighthouse in the middle of the neighbourhood,” said Roch Cayouette, architect and partner at Provencher_Roy.

Ice Breakers exhibition returning with five new installations

A collaboration between Winter Stations and the Waterfront Business Improvement Area, along with PortsToronto, the temporary Ice Breakers exhibit will feature five public art installations along Queens Quay West, drawing Torontonians down to the water’s edge during the winter months. On display from January 19 to February 24, this year’s installations are: Chroma Key Protest by Andrew Edmundson of Solve Architects, Toronto; Tweeta-Gate by Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras of Space Oddity Studios, Athens, Greece; Connector by Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, Hamburg, Germany; Stellar Spectra by Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, Toronto; and Tripix by Ryerson University.

Toronto’s new Union Station food court opens

The new Union Station Food Court, designed by Toronto-based architecture studio PARTISANS in collaboration with DIALOG and GH+A , opened in early December. A key feature of the project are the 210 cloud-like structures suspended above the seating area. These sculptural units were the response to a critical question: How does one open up and distinguish an otherwise compressed public space by turning infrastructure into art? The PODS (Pressurized Ocular Diffuser System) were conceived as an economical and artful means of integrating building systems—HVAC, lighting and sprinklers—to regain ceiling height, optimize maintenance, and create a memorable aesthetic experience

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Imago by KANVA has won the Experimental Future Project Award at the World Architecture Festival. The project comprises a series of inflatable structures to enliven Sainte-Catherine Street during its revitalization; the structures can later be redeployed elsewhere.


for the millions of patrons streaming through Union Station each year. Made from glass-fibre-reinforced gypsum, the PODS were successfully tested by building performance engineers RWDI, who verified their aerodynamic viability and pressurevessel design, and simulated their layout using computational fluid dynamic modelling. They were subsequently mass-manufactured and finished offsite in order to ensure efficient installation in the food court. Just as the biomorphic PODS turn the utilitarian into the sculptural, PARTISANS’ furniture design for the food court draws inspiration from the functional geometries and industrial materials used to build railroads. The choice of solid cast aluminum for the high tables and waste receptacles honours a tradition of robust industrial design, yet introduces an elegant twist. Inspired by movement, the furniture feature softer curves and fluid, ribbon-like shapes. Accessible through the GO York Concourse and the York West Teamway, the Union Station Food Court is the first area of the lower retail level to open as part of the Union Station Revitalization Project.

AWARDS & HONOURS Manon Asselin wins Prix Ernest-Cormier

Architect Manon Asselin, MRAIC, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Prix ErnestCormier for architecture and design, a major

Quebec award that forms part of the annual Prix du Québec program. Asselin is a cofounder and principal of the Montreal-based firm Atelier TAG and a professor at the University of Montreal School of Architecture. Founded in 1997, Atelier TAG seeks to create meaningful spaces by reinterpreting the civic function of architecture through the careful study of the sociocultural contexts within which a given program operates. The office’s design excellence has been recognized with four Governor General’s medals, the Canada Council Prix de Rome in architecture, and the Architectural League of New York’s 2012 Emerging Voices prize. /

KANVA’s Imago project lauded at World Architecture Festival

KANVA has won the Experimental Future Project Award at the World Architecture Festival for Imago. The project consists of a series of inflatable, mobile structures, intended to be installed along Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal. The judges commented that the biomorphic structures “offer the chance for behavioural change” and that the proposal “embodies innovation at its core.” Imago was the winning concept in a City of Montreal design competition to enliven the worksite of Sainte-Catherine Street during its revitalization. It received a 2016 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.

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08 NEWS RAIC releases Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium report

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has produced a highlights report for the first RAIC International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium, held in Ottawa last year. The illustrated 56-page report summarizes the presentations of more than 20 Indigenous architects, designers, and other professionals as well as students and interns from across Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. A full copy of the report is available via the RAIC website.

AGO announces Infinity Mirror Room will join permanent collection

The AGO has announced the successful completion of its crowdfunding campaign to acquire Canada’s first Infinity Mirror Room artwork by artist Yayoi Kusama. Thanks to over 4,700 donors and the David Yuile & Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room - Let’s Survive Forever will be acquired by the museum. The work, which is currently under construction, is set to arrive in Toronto in spring 2019.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR On “Design Like a Mother” from November 2018

I wanted to drop you a line about your piece in CA about being a parent with a baby, in utero and out and about. I found the article so compelling. It’s quite extraordinary how having a child introduces one to a panoply of new experiences and feelings about the world. I experienced a similar reset of values/ sensitivities. I’m always astonished how, despite the fact that we have been making babies for thousands of years, it always feels unique to the person experiencing it for the first time!  So... why don’t we have a deeper, more empathetic and beautiful design world?  I was also thrilled to learn that you gave birth at our Birth Centre. It’s one of those projects I’m especially proud of and am really pleased it made your birth experience more comfortable. I wish we had had another $500,000, three more months and a better furniture budget but... apart from that, I think it has given many women and families from diverse cultures a welcoming place to birth babies. Janna L evitt, Partner, L GA A rchitectural Partners

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I was so pleased to read your article! This perspective on design is not discussed nearly enough, and I really appreciated your connections with other accessibility issues. With a few friends here, I did a paper of sorts a few years ago that was a feminist/mothering critique of social organization and activist politics. We touched on issues of social isolation and the significant problem with designing institutions, social norms, and social spaces around presumptions of the unfettered, physically adept, adult individual—as opposed to designing social and physical space from a collective perspective that accommodates (imagine, even welcomes) people of all different accessibility levels and groups, and is attentive to the needs of families with young children. I’ve thought about furthering my interest in it all by conducting audits of various public spaces from the perspective of a mother-and-child dyad, but... haven’t had the time. I think it would make a great planning thesis. Honestly, it astounded me when I first had my daughter—suddenly I noticed public spaces and streets had no trees for shade (playgrounds—what are they thinking!), buses were almost impossible, and even the kid-friendly public library had no step-stools so toddlers could reach the sink or the water fountain. It does indeed take real life experience to notice these things, to see with the eye of someone who uses, and needs, that level of accessibility. Why do we presume the default human is 5’6” tall and design for that, when we all start out blundering around space at 2’6” tall? Susanne Marshall, Publications Manager, D alhousie A rchitectural Press

In 2011, I came to North America for my masters in landscape architecture (U Texas). Along with the culture shocks and everything, the education system and the course contents were so different than in the architecture schools of Nepal. There was not a single class without the mention of ADA accessibility for sidewalks, ramps, railings... everything we did in the class had to be ADA accessible. It was a totally new thing to me. The automatic doors, elevators, ramps, handrails, all made sense—they are there and designed that way for a reason. Universal accessibility again came to me as a nice surprise when I recently became a mother. I really appreciate how spaces in Canada are often designed to make it accessible to my little one, because we Nepalese never had (and still do not have) such “luxury.” I think my daughter is very fortunate that she is able to experience all these things: accessible parks, washrooms, clinics,

etc. As she grows, I want her to realize that not every kid in the world has this privilege. The editorial helped me to see things from a whole different perspective. There were times when I was concerned about the loud dryers in the washrooms, the rough surfaces in play areas, the push buttons at odd locations, the super-hot concrete surfaces in summer near the spray park. But, at the same time, I thought of walking/running on bark mulch instead of smooth rubber surfaces; getting some scratches taught my little one that she should be careful. Elsa Lam’s article was a great read for me! Good to learn a different perspective on the built environment from an architect-mom. And, I agree with her when she writes, ‘’Exper ­ience is the ultimate teacher.” I also agree that designers with diverse backgrounds and first-hand experiences will create thoughtful design solutions. A njana Pradhananga, intern landscape architect, C hilliwack, BC

MEMORANDA RAIC awards submissions due January 17 and 24, 2019

The deadline is January 17 for submissions for the RAIC’s Architectural Firm Award, Emerging Architectural Practice Award, Young Architect Award and Prix du XXe siècle. Architects are also invited to submit nominations for the RAIC’s Advocate for Architecture, Allied Arts, Green Building, Innovation in Architecture, and Media in Architecture awards by January 24.

March 1 submission deadline for Canada Council’s 2019 Architecture Prizes

Applications are open for the Canada Council for the Arts’s awards in architecture. The awards include the $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, as well as the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement and the J.B.C. Watkins Award.



E to

Entries open for Archishorts film competition

The Architecture and Design Film Festival (A+DFF) is seeking two-minute movies about architecture or the built environment. Winners will be featured in Canada’s only film festival dedicated to architecture and design. The registration deadline is April 2.

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Elsa Lam Mathew Borrett


Toronto lies in ruins, reclaimed by the inexorable forces of nature. Nathan Phillips Square is flooded, Viljo Revell’s curved concrete walls are crumbling. Shanties occupy the surrounding roofs, sheltered by circular tarps; rigging and pulleys cantilever off the sides of skyscrapers. To the south, where the Sheraton Centre’s courtyard atrium once stood, a young forest is taking root. It’s a scene from the dystopian virtual reality experience Biidaaban: First Light, which is travelling across the country and made its Canadian debut in Toronto last fall. In September, viewing stations for the short film were set up in Nathan Phillips Square. When I donned the Oculus Rift goggles

and turned towards the real-life City Hall, I saw Biidaaban’s futuristic version in its place: a nighttime scene, where a young First Nations girl tended a campfire, set on the decaying paving at the foot of the curved towers. It’s a strangely compelling vision: a city with few inhabitants and many trees, filled with the sound of crickets rather than sirens. At night, you see the stars rather than the city lights. There’s a feeling of stillness, of peacefulness. In a sense, it takes to a logical extreme the romantic notions of recent plant-centred architecture. Tree-covered skyscrapers are popping up in Sydney, Milan, and even Toronto. New York City’s Highline reimagines a disused railway as a garden. Urban

farms are being planted on vacant lots in Detroit’s distressed residential neighbourhoods. What if entire cities were given back to nature? Anishnaabe director Lisa Jackson teamed with 3D artist Mathew Borrett to create the piece, which was crafted using to-scale digital models of downtown Toronto. Indigenous languages are at the heart of much of Jackson’s recent work, and the audio score of Biidaaban is centred on First Nations voices speaking in their native tongues. Transcripts of their poems and prayers appear across the images, with words in Wendat, Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) and Kanyen’ keha (Mohawk), as well as in English translation.

“Indigenous North American languages are radically different from European languages and embody sets of relationships to the land, to each other, and to time itself,” Jackson told Filmmaker Magazine. “I understand why elders always say, ‘Our culture is in our language.’” Case in point: the title of the piece. Biidaaban is an Anishinaabe word that refers to the moment of first light before dawn—and the notion of the past and the future collapsing in on the present. Jackson resists her work being labelled “post-apocalyptic” in part because Indigenous concepts of time are circular, rather than linear. “If you take a different perspective,” says Jackson, “the apocalypse has already happened.”







The New Central Library in Calgary by Snøhetta, designed and managed in association with DIALOG, presents a captivating image with its bold form and its expressive cladding. The building shares some similarities with the transformative Grande Bibliothèque du Québec in Montreal designed by Patkau Architects (with Croft Pelletier and Menkès Schooner Dagenais architectes, 2005). Both occupy inauspicious sites not normally associated with major cultural institutions. And both rise to the challenge of their respective locations, to create urban buildings of crucial public worth. In many ways, the New Central Library is the product of a series of decisions made in the 1970s and 1980s. During that period, the new C-train light rail transit system opened (1981), the Calgary Municipal Building by WZMH Architects was completed (1985), and Olympic Plaza was inaugurated for the 1988 Winter Games. The plaza became modern Calgary’s major civic space, supporting the city’s important institutions, including the dreary former main library. However, the instigators of the Calgary Municipal Building— a large blue-glass modern building facing Olympic Plaza—made two major blunders. Firstly, a decision was made to build across 8th Avenue SE (also known as Stephen Avenue), blocking the continuity of one of downtown’s major streets. Secondly, the building turns its back on the adjacent East Village, a then-derelict area that has in recent years been rejuvenated with new condos and institutions. When the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, in charge of revitalizing the East Village, decided to embark on a New Central Library with an RFQ in 2013, the daring decision was made to locate the new institution due east of the Municipal Building. The site straddles the



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The eye-shaped form of Calgary’s new central library derives from the path of the LRT tracks passing under it. ABOVE A passageway lined with finger-jointed Western red cedar continues the alignment of 8th Avenue. opposite A dynamic play of wood-slat planes surrounds the central atrium and stair.

previous spread

Calgary Municipal Building 8th Ave



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3rd St

Site Plan site plan

East Village

8th Ave

interrupted 8th Avenue and incorporates a curving section of the southbound C-train lines. The architectural mandate was to create a building with an urban presence, despite the oddities of its site. The site constraints drove the development of the plan, as building over the light rail lines required significant encapsulation and structural ingenuity. The eastern perimeter of the library follows the arc of the C-train lines that pass under the building, and the mirroring of this arc creates the primary form of the design. A secondary form houses support services. The resulting building is like a vessel floating over infrastructure, which is clearly reflected in early concept models. To further address the ruptured urban fabric, the design carves a large exterior passageway through the building that continues the alignment of the avenue. Lined in beautifully detailed Western red cedar, the large archway has a memorable sweeping profile suggestive of a Chinook arch, Calgary’s dramatic winter cloud formation. Entering the library, one is immediately immersed in a spacious hemlock-lined atrium, with a play of wood-slat planes rising above towards an immense skylight. The atrium structures the primary vertical circulation, including a superb stair system. The integration of the stairs into the atrium affords changing views as one ascends; for example, a large window into the children’s library provides an animating moment. Within the overall circulation strategy, there is also a conscious decision by the design team not to extend Calgary’s controversial +15 system into the building or to use escalators. As a result, users are invited to fully explore both the urban and tactile dimensions of the scheme. The building is organized with a simple, intuitive logic within its envelope. The consistent use of wood and concrete throughout is essen-

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tial to the experiential aspects of the design. Bill Ptacek, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, notes that the library is organized from “fun to serious” as you ascend, with a series of strategically located experiences punctuating the more generic aspects of the program. These include an express area, where users can quickly pick up and drop off materials, and a performance hall near the entry. A café on the mezzanine is paired with attendant lookout and gathering spaces facing north. A large children’s library cascades down along a set of gently terraced levels, and features a series of house-like play structures. As one moves up through stacks, working areas, and a two-storey lounge on the third level, there is a constant sense of surprise, along with an overall feeling of calm. The vertical sequence culminates in the TD Great Reading Room on the top level. With its emphasis on fine woodwork and its oval form, it recalls historic reading rooms in grand institutions. It is easily the best space for reading and researching in Calgary. The Prow, at the north end of the building, affords users intriguing views of the surroundings, and is a prime place for watching C-trains pass under the structure. Both Ptacek and Rob Adamson, FRAIC, principal of DIALOG, speak highly of the collaboration between the architectural firms, the client, and Stuart Olson’s construction team in achieving the final results. Overall, the quality of materials, assemblies and details is excellent. Much of the building is clad in a thick wall system distinctively patterned in polygons reminiscent of beehives. Snøhetta partner Craig


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A grand reading room with fine wood detailing sits at the apex of the library. Opposite bottom A wood screen provides for the sharing of dayight and views between the atrium and a study area. ABOVE The children’s library cascades down several levels, creating a variety of areas for playtime and storytime with smaller groups.

Opposite top

Dykers notes that the geometric pattern also evokes the ice crystals that can form on winter days. The system was fabricated by Calgary-based Ferguson Corporation, and the openings are appropriately correlated with the overall volume and with the needs of the spaces within, opening up from solid towards more glazed areas at the northern tip. Dykers describes the careful arrangement of glazing to avoid creating a “glass ghetto,” and the effort by the team to rationalize the production of the patterning. Ultimately, the delightful geometries of the exterior give the library much of its character. Given the location, the design will challenge the vitality of Olympic Plaza, as the library shifts the civic balance in the downtown towards the east and the emerging East Village district. The library also plays off the mute east façade of the Municipal Building and will put increased pressure on the City of Calgary to reinstate the broken continuity of 8th Avenue SE by driving an opening through the building. The high-quality design work extends to the landscape elements surrounding the library, including ramps, stairs, plantings and a well-executed board-formed concrete wall on the east side of the building. All of this locks the whole arrangement onto the site. Dykers is excited that members of local Indigenous communities feel that the building has a “spirit.” No doubt the shape of the building and its design features use a range of metaphorical devices that both connect the building to its Calgary context, and create evocative moments for the library’s patrons.

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Today’s libraries are vital gathering places, occupied by a wide range of users seeking information, stimulation, socialization and entertainment. Libraries are much more diverse and active than they once were. Albertans love their libraries: Calgary’s library system boasts over 670,000 cardcarrying members, in a metro region with 1.37 million, and tens of thousands of people showed up to celebrate the opening of the new institution. The New Central Library will undoubtedly be heavily used by Calgarians, as it posits new urban and institutional experiences, and ultimately transforms patterns of behaviour in the city’s downtown core. Graham L ivesey, MRAIC is a professor in the Master of A rchitecture program at the U niversity of C algary.

CLIENT C al gar y Mun ic ipal L an d C o r po r at io n (C MLC ) | PROJECT MANAGEMENT C o lli er s Pro jec t L ea d er s | ARCHITECT TEAM Sn ø h et t a —Sa m Br isset t e, Jef f C h eu n g, Mich el l e D el k , C r a ig D y k er s, D o n esh F er d o wsi, A l a n Go r d o n , Ma r t in Gr a n , Ju n Hwa n g, Mia K an g, V an essa K a ssa bian , Mat h ieu L emieu x -Bl an c har d , Ben Mat t h ews, Mat t Mc Mah o n , F il ip Mil o v an o vi c , Mar io Mo han , K im A n d r e F o ssl ien O t t esen , So f ie Pl at o u , D en n is R ijk h o f f , A n n e-R a c h el Sc h if f man n , Mo n ic a San ga , Ju st in Sh ea , C ar r ie Tsan g. DIALO G— R o b A d a mso n , L o u ise A r o c h e, D o n Bu sc h er t , D o u g C a r l y l e, St eph a n ie F a r ga s, C h r is H einar an t a , Jan ic e L iebe, D a vid Mak sy mec , T a mar a Mar a jh , T im Mc Gin n , Mat t Par k es, Br en d a Sk ap pak , Jen n ek e V an Ga st el , Wayn e Yar ja u , Mar ia Zhan g. | STRUCTURAL En tu it iv e | MECHANICAL DIALO G | ELECTRICAL/LIGHTING SMP En gin eer in g | CIVIL Pa r so n s | IT/AV Mc Squ a red Sy st em D esign Gr o u p, In c . | LANDSCAPE Sn ø h et t a wit h DIALO G | INTERIORS Sn øh et t a | ACOUSTICS FF +A | SIGNAGE En t r o | BUILDING SCIENCE BEEI | FF&E/MILLWORK Sn øh et t a | CONTRACTOR St u a r t O l so n | AREA 22,300 m2 | BUDGET $245 M (t o t a l pr o jec t c o st ), $147 M (h a r d c o st ) | COMPLETION N o v ember 2018

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Shai Gil

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Shai Gil

canadian architect 01/19


The Pioneer Village station, designed by aLL and IBI Group, features a muscular canopy clad in Corten steel and bright red metal panels. The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station, designed by Grimshaw with Adamson Associates and Arup, includes a mirrored artwork by Paul Raff. ABOVE The station sports a skylight-pierced, turtle-shell-like roof and sits at the heart of an area that is undergoing rapid development.

previous spread Opposite

In a Walmart parking lot north of Toronto, a turtle shell-shaped canopy balances atop the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station. An artwork by Paul Raff, MRAIC made of mirror-polished steel panels covers the ceiling, ref lecting the warm glow of passengers below. Pierced by a series of blue skylights, the ceiling is like a 21st-century Ronchamp. The dramatic entrance shelters commuters and houses a pair of heroic staircases that provide access to the northern terminus of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway extension. The station is part of a $3.2-billion infrastructure project, including six new stations, that brings a subway connection to Toronto’s outer suburbs for the first time. Since the project launched in late 2017, critics have been quick to share their opinions. Some have questioned the political horse-trading involved in choosing station locations. Others have dismissed the stations as white elephants that serve too few people. Given the significant level of investment, it seems fair to ask: How is the line delivering on its promise of dignified mobility for all segments of our population? And how might the stations support this goal as the surrounding areas develop over time? The design of transit stations is a complex undertaking—one that aims to balance the functional needs of mobility with the desire to elevate the passenger experience, while also integrating with the surrounding context and supporting development. With their hefty budgets and long time-horizons, these projects also attract political attention, adding layers of complexity to the design process. Toronto has responded to this challenge variously. The original Yonge and Bloor subway lines prioritized function, and broadcast these values through a consistent, streamlined aesthetic. In contrast, the Spadina line, whose generous stations were designed by Arthur Erickson and others, reflected the exuberance and expressionism of Canada’s Centennial. The Sheppard line, in turn, registered the dour parsimoniousness of the 1990s recession in its concrete and steel stations.

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The Spadina Extension takes an approach that aims to split the difference. Platform elements, wayfinding and site furnishings have been standardized, while station designs have been assigned to individual architects and respond to their local context. This is the same approach employed by London’s Crossrail and Vancouver’s Millennium Line. In comparison, Toronto’s Crosstown LRT and Montreal’s REM LRT networks, both in progress, are aiming for a more consistent line-wide identity. Travelling the new subway extension in Toronto, one immediately notices the exposed concrete station box walls at the platform level. Common to all stations, the ad-free walls are home to station identification signage that employs the Toronto Subway font (designed for the original network and recently resurrected), providing a clear visual connection to the city’s early subways. Common elements employed across all stations also include robustly detailed terrazzo floors, platform-edge lighting, and granite stair treads that can be replaced after they inevitably disintegrate from winter salting. Red, pre-finished metal boxes and niches of various scales are another nod to Toronto Transit Commission’s legacy brand with its red logo and red streetcars. The enclosures house necessities such as fare collectors’ rooms, recycling bins, benches and pay phones. Together, these elements provide a coherent aesthetic to station amenities that acknowledges their antecedents. The approach to standardization of site furnishings is, unfortunately, less than the sum of its parts. Best practices in contemporary station design have been deployed throughout the line—covered bike parking, landscaped pedestrian allées, and high-quality paving. But in several sites, this is spread out across an expanse of surface parking that subverts good intentions. At the Highway 407 station, bike racks sit empty, seemingly placed there by a forlorn cargo cult hoping to attract urbanity to a hydro-electric corridor. Cheap green plastic salt storage bins have already attached themselves to station entrances.

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Shai Gil

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Shai Gil

Beyond the platforms, standardized elements give way to stations that are each unique expressions of civic infrastructure, bringing a level of dignity to the daily pilgrimage of their users. The York University and Finch West stations are the busiest along the extension, but they couldn’t be more different. Designed by Foster + Partners with Adamson Associates and Arup, York University is cool, sober, symmetrical, curving and sleek, while the Alsop (now aLL) and IBI-designed Finch West is a heavy, rectilinear, riotous explosion of rainbow colours. The York University station displaced over 1,400 daily bus trips that descended on the campus—a large number for the previous bus drop-off area, but a relatively small number for a subway. For much of the day, this results in an eerie quiet when you arrive. Sitting low to the ground, the boomerang-shaped station frames the eastern edge of the campus’s central quad without overpowering it, and introduces a moment of transparency along its main axis. A sunken amphitheatre sits in the elbow of the boomerang (sadly, it is closed to the public), while a vehicular layby is neatly tucked along the perimeter. Impeccable concrete work and refined detailing reflect an acute attention to detail. The rigid symmetry, central stair and consolidated fare gates make for a clear composition, although unfortunately, they result in a circuitous path for passengers requiring mobility devices.

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top Designed by Foster + Partners with Adamson Associates and Arup, the boomerang-shaped York University station bookends the campus’s main quad. left Grand staircases lead down to the concourse level on either side of the symmetrical station. opposite Curvilinear concrete supports contribute to an open, airy atmosphere.

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together will transform the area into a dense mixed-use neighbourhood. High-quality streetscaping and new bike lanes along Highway 7 and Millway Avenue presage a level of activity that is beginning to manifest. The subway station, bus rapid transit station, and bus terminal—which share a formal language while maintaining distinct identities—are located on adjacent plazas among the emerging urban grid of streets. Designed by Grimshaw Architects with Adamson Associates and Arup, the Vaughan subway station has a formal rigour with its grand spaces and soaring canopy. However, the resolution is problematic where the building meets the ground. The tall glass walls at the ends of the structure succeed in bringing natural light down to the concourse level, but in doing so, force the entrances to the quarter-points of the plan. As a result, the deepest canopies end up sheltering short-term bike parking, leaving the entrances exposed, and the entrances point away from the formal pick-up and drop-off areas on the north side of the station. Many drivers are ending up in the bike lanes to the east of the station. The remaining two stations have attracted the most criticism with regards to value. Overbuilt stations, far from major destinations and with no development potential have tested the public’s trust in officials’ ability to effectively deliver major infrastructure projects. Located between a hydroelectric corridor, expressway and the headwaters of Black Creek, Highway 407 station is not anticipated to attract any development. The at-grade bus terminal portion has been sized to serve the future 407 Transitway but is underutilized at present; it resembles a giant Polycom speaker phone, rendered in steel and glass. The three-sided canopy sits atop a massive earthworks that cleverly incorporates skylights which funnel natural light to the concourse below. At Downsview Park, a two-sided subway station was designed to straddle the GO commuter rail line that runs perpendicular to it.

Shai Gil

Relatively modest when compared to other stations along the line, the Finch West station delivers valuable moments of delight to passengers. Working with artist Bruce McLean, the designers developed expressive concrete canopies and columns that suggest contemporary caryatids. Black-and-white barcode-like patterning on the exterior gives way to tinted skylights, tiles and glass panels that dapple the interiors with colours. A large double-height space over the platform expands the interiors and signals connections to the future Finch West LRT, which will be accessible from the station. Property constraints forced the designers to integrate a traction power substation into the penthouse. They turned this into an advantage, with the extra volume ultimately contributing to the station’s unique urban presence. Pioneer Village station, also by a LL and IBI, is a singular, surrealist design vison that defies convention at many levels. A pair of kidneyshaped entrances straddles Steeles Avenue. Clad in an unlikely pairing of etched weathering steel and bright red metal panels, the battered walls project a robust-yet-joyful Flintstones aesthetic that somehow works. The main bus terminal features an irregular canopy, clad in more weathering steel and balanced atop slender steel columns on tinted concrete. One gets the impression that every bench, column base and vent shaft was uniquely drawn, never to be repeated again. Down below, the hard steel is replaced with an earthy warmth. Brass handrails, armrests and terrazzo inlays pair with polished concrete benches that are already smoothly patinated from human contact. Sadly, LightSpell, the interactive art installation by realities:united that stretches across the platform ceiling, remains inoperative due to fears the user-programmed letters may be used to spread hate speech. Next to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station, cranes work to complete a YMCA, library, office tower and 3,000 new high-rise units, that

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However, the second GO platform is not scheduled to open for several years, leaving half of the subway station redundant. Symptomatic of the design being out of touch with its surroundings, basic sidewalks to the popular Downsview Park Merchants Market next door have not been provided. Toronto’s transit network continues to grow. The city currently has three subway lines in the planning stages and a number of LRT projects in the works. These projects will shape the city for decades to come. As debates rage regarding which line to prioritize or what mode to employ, we run the risk of losing sight of what is important. In this context, the successes and shortfalls of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension offer many lessons for designers and politicians alike. Good transit design must start with an approach that puts the passenger first. Stations must connect major destinations and provide access to key interchanges. Standardized amenities offer equitable levels of comfort, while unique station designs respond to ridership levels and local context. When these elements align, stations can be safe, efficient and delightful. While low-ridership stations make for easy targets, residents of Toronto’s inner suburbs are equally deserving of high-quality transit that ennobles the daily commute. Paul Kulig is the U rban D esign and T ransit Principal at Perkins+Will’s T oronto office.

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Wa d e Zimmer ma n (t h is spre a d , ex cept wh ere n o t ed )

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opposite top A barcode-inspired pattern gives a distinct identity to Finch West Station, designed by aLL with IBI. opposite Middle Left The station gains extra height from a traction power substation housed in its penthouse. opposite Middle right Bright colours pop against the black-andwhite patterning. Opposite bottom Angular columns act as sculptural elements inside and outside the station. Left The Pioneer Village Station, by aLL with IBI Group, has an exuberant, primitive-art aesthetic. Below The interior includes a bespoke luminaire that resembles a boulder embedded with glowing gemstones. Bottom Highway 407 Station, by AECOM with Aedas, is a three-cornered structure sited to serve the future 407 Transitway.

V a u gh a n Met r o po l it a n C en t r e St at io n CLIENT T or on t o T r a n sit C o mmission

canadian architect 01/19



TECTS A r u p (pr ime c o n su l t a n t / en gin eer o f re c o rd ), Gr imsh a w A r ch it ec t s (d esign

Pion eer V il l a ge St at ion a n d F inc h West ST at ion CLIENT T or on t o T r a n sit C o mmission | ARCHITECTS a LL D esign wit h IBI Gr o u p (a r c h it ec t o f r ec o r d ) | ARCHITECT TEAM a LL —Will A l so p, A naï s Bl éha u t , Mel an ie C l ar k e, D iet er Jan ssen , So n il a K ad il l ar i, C h r ist ina K al t , V in c en t L in , D un c an Ma c a ul ay, St eve Ma so n , T ar ek Mer l in , Ed N o r man , Ma x in e Pr in gl e, Ph il ip R ic h a r d s, A r n o l d v o n St o r p, Geo r ge Wa d e, Gr eg Wo o d s, Bo n n y Y u . IBI—Br u c e H a n , R ich a rd St ev en s, C el ia Jo h n st o n e, C h a rl ie H o a n g, A n a -F r a n ci sc a d e l a Mo r a , Gu i C han , St u ar t H il l , Mic hae l N o r t o n , Wel l an d Sin , Mic hae l Mue l l er , Jen n if er Ujimo t o , C o l l een Go n o , Amer Obeid , A n d r ew C h iu , A d et o k u n bo Bo d u n r in , Ash l ey A d a ms, Bija n Gh a ziza d eh , Bil l Wh it el a w, C l a u d ia R o sa r io , D o men ic o Gr o ssi, Ga r y C h ien , Jo h n L enar t o wic z, T imo t hy Mit an id is, T r ev o r Mc H u gh , Man isha At ha v al e, K ir bi Ab uy an , N a sir Jaf f er , Jim Ba zio s, Shail za Bha v sar , Beh r an g Gha misi, Mar jan Zel ic , K eer t hana Bal ak unal an , Ga br iel C o l o mban i, Sye d N a v qi | STRUCTURAL LEA C o n su l t in g L t d . / WSP (H al sal l Asso c iat es) | CIVIL LEA C o n su l t in g L t d . | MEP HH A n gu s & Asso c iat es L t d . | LANDSCAPE Ja n et R o sen ber g & St u d io In c . | ARTIST (Pioneer Village) r eal it ies:un it ed (T im a n d Ja n Ed l er ) | AREA (Pioneer Village) 16,200 m2 | AREA (F in c h West ) 11,200 m2 | BUDGET (Pioneer Village) $165 M | BUDGET (Finch West) $130 M | COMPLETION D ece mber 2017

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Mich a el Mu r a z

a r c h it ec t ), A d a mso n Asso c iat es A r c h it ec t s (a r c h it ec t o f r ec o r d ) | ARCHITECT TEAM Gri msha w—Ju an Po r r al , R o sar io D ’U r so , C r o z C r o sl in g, R ic har d Y o o . A d a mso n — D a vid Jan sen (MRAIC ), Wil l ia m Br ad l ey (MRAIC ), A n n D an iel , D a vid El l is, Sa m N ic o l in i, C hu c k C o mar t in , D en is T esar , A l f r ed o F al c o n e | STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL A r up | LANDSCAPE T h e MBT W Gr o u p | CONTRACTOR C ar il l io n C anad a | CIVIL A r up | ELEVATOR A r up | GEOTECHNICAL A r up | TRAFFIC A r up | LIGHTING A r up | ACOUSTICS A r up | COST H a n sc o mb L t d . | ARTIST Pa u l R a f f St u d io | AREA 17,997 m2 | BUDGET $197 M | COMPLETION D ece mber 2017

Y o r k U n iv er sit y St at io n CLIENT T or on t o T r a n sit C o mmission | ARCHITECTS A r up (pr ime c o n su l t a n t / en gin eer o f re c o rd ), F o st er + Pa r t n er s (d esign a r ch it ec t ), A d a mso n Asso c ia t es A r c h it ec t s (a r c h it ec t o f r ec o r d ) | ARCHITECT TEAM F o st er —Spen cer d e Gr ey, St ef a n Beh l in g, Ja mes Mc Gr at h , Bel a K a sza , Pa r u l Sin gh , Pet r a L u i. A d a mso n — D a vid Jan sen (MRAIC ), Wil l ia m Br ad l ey (MRAIC ), A n n D an iel , D a vid El l is, C hu c k C o mar t in , D en is T esa r , Est el it o So . | STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL A r up | LANDSCAPE T h e MBT W Gr o u p | CONTRACTOR Elli sD o n | CIVIL A r up | ELEVATOR A r up | GEOTECHNICAL A r up | TRAFFIC A r up | LIGHTING A r up | ACOUSTICS A r up | COST H a n sc o mb L t d . | AREA 21,375 m2 | BUDGET $118 M | COMPLETION D ece mber 2017

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canadian architect 01/19



Debunking Postmodernism’s Myths TEXT

Annmarie Adams Sandra Larochelle, unless otherwise noted


The CCA’s current exhibition explores how postmodern architecture was deeply connected to social issues and the day-to-day concerns of its creators. A highlight of my student years was meeting American architect Michael Graves. Not just meeting him, but spending significant time with him. The date was September 1985 and a bunch of us were on a study trip to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), following the Alvar Aalto symposium in Jyväskylä, Finland. Considering his absolute superstar status at the time, Graves was pretty relaxed with us. He roamed the streets and sketched buildings like a regular guy; we all sat together on the bus, leaning over seat backs so we could talk as a group. Graves regaled us with stories of visiting the Reagan White House; he was particularly delighted when a Soviet architecture student had never heard of him, clearly loving the moment of anonymity. And at the USSR-Finland border, where we were detained for many hours, he did a sketch in that classic MG style in my sketchbook. To this day, it remains one of my most precious possessions. Personal memories like these from the 1980s make me feel right at home in the current exhibit at the CCA, Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths. Including 420 objects and images, there’s a memory trigger from 1965-1990 around every corner. Apart from sparking my own nostalgia, this show is big and it includes some big objects. For example, a Peter Eisenman stair (shockingly bright green) and his railing from House I are here. Next to the railing, in the

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middle of a gallery, is an oval window from the now-demolished Prentice Women’s Hospital by Bertrand Goldberg in Chicago. There’s also a reconstructed kiosk from the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. In a nearby corner are some colourful carpets that Graves designed for the Disney corporation. Images included in the show, if not large in size, had a big impact in their day. We know Madelon Vriesendorp’s illustrations from the cover of Delirious New York. A map from the Learning from Las Vegas studio reminds us that the book originated as a course. Frank Gehry’s own house in Santa Monica is represented in two models, illustrating how model-making is anything but an objective copying of a building. This cursory inventory of Architecture Itself may give the impression that the exhibit is a mere assemblage of random building fragments and famous images. Nothing could be further from the truth. Architectural educator and curator Sylvia Lavin has carefully arranged the exhibit into six galleries that together articulate a complex argument debunking fundamental myths of postmodernism. Each gallery has an innovative theme, illustrating that postmodernism is not what you thought. For example, the gallery dedicated to “Bodies Return”—with the railing and the Goldberg window—shows how postmodern buildings

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D r a win g Mat t er So mer set , 1979 © Er ed i A l d o R o ssi, c o u r t esy F o n d a zio n e A l d o R o ssi

Opposite Sussman/Prejza & Company’s wayfinding sonotubes for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics form the pillars of a reconstructed kiosk. Left Peter Eisenman’s House I included two stairs—one for actual use, and the other an inverted version suspended from the ceiling. In the CCA, the suspended version is a replica made from cardboard. Below While interning with Aldo Rossi, Jesse Reiser was asked to make this copy of Rossi’s iconic composition with the Modena Cemetery. It was hand-drawn and coloured, working from the film positive for the original blueprint. Bottom James Wines of SITE made lifecasts of Yokohoma residents’ legs for the Isuzu Space Station Children’s Plaza, completed in 1989.

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A r c h ive s o f Am er ic an A r t , Smit h so n ian . © 2018 Ja mes St ir l in g

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A selection of Michael Graves’ hand drawings is accompanied by an oversized signature on the wall. Graves often used tracing paper to expediently copy his own work, in order to satisy the enormous market demand for his personal drawings. ABOVE right The exhibition includes a range of ephemera, including this letter from James Stirling to gallery owner Leo Castelli detailing his concerns over how his materials would be presented in the 1977 Architecture I exhibition.

ABOVE left

contributed to progressive reforms such as abortion rights and women’s architectural education. In the superb audio accompaniment for this gallery, Lavin explains how clients and other stakeholders in this period saw themselves as part of the architectural production team. Over in “Signs and Signals,” Lavin shows how Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and others designed for technologies such as cable television and early computer systems. In the most academic gallery, “Little Things of Knowledge,” the exhibit highlights the considerable overlap of architectural practice with the rise of architectural history in professional schools. In this gallery, a room-length table shows off “postmodern instruments of knowledge production”—also known as books-in-box-sets, field notes, 35-mm slides, photographs, and university theses and dissertations. (My university office is full of stuff like this, although I don’t generally think of it as potential material for museum exhibitions.) All to say that Lavin’s themes contribute enormously to our understanding of postmodern architecture, which until now has been mostly known through a handful of books. Lavin takes a material history approach that juxtaposes the icons with behind-the-scenes, everyday items like typed letters, bills, patents and posters. The message is that postmodern architecture was not just about pretty pictures, but also about real-life concerns such as building codes, profits and getting tenure. Another gem from the brilliant audio guide, for example, is Lavin admitting that one of her favourite objects in the show is Charles Moore’s bill to a client for $23.11, as commission for furniture he bought from Knoll. Similarly, a letter from James Stirling to gallery-owner Leo Castelli reveals the architect’s worries about about how his work would be shown. These guys really sweated the small stuff. Who knew? Especially courageous is Lavin’s look at the contradictions in postmodern architecture. California’s Sea Ranch, for example, often pitched as an early foray into ecological design, is here shown as exclusive, gated, and car-dependent. In a gallery next door, Mike Reynold’s “earth ships” made from beer cans are the centrepiece for a complicated real-estate arrangement of time-sharing rather than

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house-buying—a culture we associate with fancy golf courses more than with off-the-grid hippy living. The exhibit is a powerful teaching tool. What a treat for students to learn from these provocative objects and to probe the meaning of architecture designed by their parents’ generation. Less effective parts of the show are the sections on postmodern exhibitions and the role of the art gallery, including the CCA itself. Lavin makes the point that the museum hosting the exhibit—the CCA—shaped postmodernism by its neo-neoclassical architecture, its early influential exhibits on figures like Eisenman, and its collecting of gems like a Piranesi drawing. So, the CCA is hosting an exhibit about how other CCA exhibits were important. It’s a bit too self-referential—but very postmodern! Another challenge for visitors is that sources for the myths debunked in the show are not identified. The presumption is that we all think about postmodernism as autonomous, and that the exhibit shows a different way to see it, as connected. Who or what made us think about postmodern architecture as autonomous? I asked Lavin, and she responded: “The framing of architecture as autonomous, and therefore as a thing in itself, took place through the way architecture was drawn (as contextless axonometric for example), when buildings were described as ‘immaterial,’ or as images.” The keenest of current architecture students will understand this. But ultimately, this show speaks most clearly to me and my generation—those of us who grew up on this stuff. We thought this way. These things make us remember. And in looking back, Architecture Itself convinces me that postmodern architecture was anything but just itself. A nnmarie A dams, FRAIC , jointly appointed in the Guo-hua F u School of A rchitecture and D epartment of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill U niversity, teaches the history of postmodernism to first-year architecture students.

A rchitecture Itself and O ther Postmodernist Myths is on display at the C anadian C entre for A rchitecture, Montreal until A pril 7, 2019.

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Canada’s Infrastructure of the Future TEXT

Douglas MacLeod

Tomorrow’s infrastructure may be smarter, cheaper, and more nimble than today’s—and buildings will be an integral part of it.

In 2013, McKinsey & Company declared that, “Simply to support projected economic growth between now and 2030, we estimate that global infrastructure investment would need to increase by nearly 60 percent from the $36 trillion spent on infrastructure over the past 18 years to $57 trillion over the next 18 years.” In 2016, Dominic Barton, Chair of the Finance Minister’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, suggested that Canada alone has a $500-billion infrastructure gap. There is no doubt that infrastructure plays an essential role in the Canadian and global economies. And because our infrastructure encompasses most of the built environment—from schools and parks to highways and bridges—its health is of critical interest to the profession of architecture. The trouble is that we may be designing infrastructure for the last century rather than the next. Last year, I was one of the co-authors of a shortlisted submission to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative organized by the federal government that allocated $950 million in targeted investments to industry-led consortia. Our application focused on creating smart, sustainable and resilient infrastructure. It included some of the largest AEC firms in the country, major research universities and a wide range of forward-thinking architects, engineers and entrepreneurs. While ultimately unsuccessful, our investigation suggested totally new ways of looking at infrastructure—and by extension, at architecture. Because we are one of the few truly multidisciplinary professions, we are well prepared to think about the built environment from different points of view and to find innovative solutions by integrating those perspectives. We can start by learning from what’s already happening across Canada. The town of Innisfil in Ontario, for example, has inked a deal with Uber to subsidize rides for its citizens within municipal boundaries. The town estimates it is saving $8 million per year in comparison to buying and maintaining buses and operating a similar degree of service. Similarly, large, centralized water treatment plants can cost millions of dollars—but smaller filtration units such as those developed by Zenon Environmental (originally a Canadian company) can provide clean water at a neighbourhood level for far less. The founder of Zenon, Andrew Benedek, who won Singapore’s inaugural Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize in 2008, has compared our infrastructure to the evolution of computers. He notes that all computing was centralized and expensive in the era of mainframes and batch processing, but today we have cheap but more powerful machines on our desks

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Opposite A building can be re-imagined as a platform that integrates cloud-based products and services, and connects to other buildings and infrastructure.

and in our pockets. Similarly, our infrastructure now has the potential to become smaller, less expensive and more decentralized. Water and public transportation aren’t the only areas where this could occur. Architects need to consider what will happen when our communities can generate more energy than they consume; purify more water than they pollute; recycle more waste than they produce; grow more food than they need; and sequester more carbon than they emit. It is possible we will be able to do all of these things by 2040. While none of this is written in stone, we do need to explore these possibilities, rather than fixate on massive megastructures that are based on outdated paradigms such as the fossil fuel economy. To create this new kind of infrastructure, architects need to think outside the building. Many have suggested that our power grid needs to become more like the Internet in terms of flexibility, ubiquity, openness and modularity. To do so, however, requires an easy way to move packets of energy around, just as the Internet moves packets of information. In an idea called Vehicle to Grid, or V2G, the batteries of electric cars are used to move energy from one building to another. As electric, autonomous vehicles mature, the energy needs for neighbourhoods may well be met by a fleet of mobile batteries that constantly moves energy around from where it is created (such as the solar panels on roofs) to where it is needed. On-site storage of energy using stationary batteries may also become a key part of V2G. According to McKinsey, the costs of such storage may drop towards $100 USD per kilowatt-hour by 2020, making it cost-effective for commercial and industrial buildings. These developments have led some to suggest that we need to re-imagine infrastructure as a “platform.” A platform is a fashionable term for a framework or a set of shared tools that allow different people to develop different applications with a reasonable assurance that they will be interoperable because they all share a common development environment. For example, a contemporary building needs applications for energy management, lighting control and performance benchmarking. If these are all developed on the same platform, then they can share information and work together. Moreover, if a new application is needed, such as security, then it can either be purchased from somewhere else or developed cheaply and easily by using the platform tools. A powerful advantage of the platform approach is that it can be used to efficiently develop applications that we don’t even know we need yet.

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D o u gl a s Ma c L eo d

Re-imagining buildings as a platform technology of integrated products and services would transform the idea of architecture. Houses could become their own nano-infrastructure providers, potentially generating energy, information, clean water and even food to share with the micro-infrastructure of their neighbourhood. This has implications right across the board. As Trevor Butler, principal of Archineers notes, “By designing buildings that are net positive or regenerative from a whole systems perspective, architects and engineers are redefining what it means to be a utility—because these kinds of buildings both give and receive energy, water and other resources. To do so effectively, we need to develop a new kind of infrastructure that can accommodate these bi-directional flows.” If our communities and buildings migrate to localized energy generation and storage, it raises the question: Do we still need elaborate, expensive grids, dams, and the large, corporate utilities that operate them? No matter how this transformation plays out, architecture has an important role to play. As Guy Newsham, a Principal Research Officer at the National Research Council’s Construction Research Centre ( NRC-CRC) in Ottawa notes, “The building is the natural building block in smart cities.” This is where new technologies collide head-on with the ancient art of placing stone on stone. Just as the Internet revolutionized communications, so may IP (or the Internet Protocol) redefine architecture. This is more than the Internet of Things—but rather, the Internet of Buildings. Trevor Nightingale, Leader, High Performance Buildings Program, also at the NRC, notes that, “It is now possible to converge all building systems onto a single IP network.” Far from being science fiction, such

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systems have already been implemented in buildings such as the WaterPark Place III building designed by WZMH in downtown Toronto. In this building, lighting, HVAC, fire and security systems are all integrated with PoE (or Power over Ethernet) which eliminates the need for electrical cables and produces significant cost savings. Moreover, these systems will also be able to share data in order to optimize their efficiency. There are, however, numerous challenges to this work. A year ago, I attended a workshop organized by the NRC on the Future of Cities. There was impressive work being done in major cities across Canada that used data to make their operations more efficient and more economical. And yet, all of these initiatives were being done in isolation from one another. In each case, the wheel was being reinvented at tremendous cost to the economy. In addition, some participants complained that only large cities could afford these innovations, while the rest of the country was falling behind. Having a multitude of incompatible systems—that only serve the few—defeats the entire idea of a platform. It is also not clear at this point who owns all of the data that buildings and infrastructure will generate, and who will protect it. Everyone needs to be aware that a smart city will be gathering information about individuals and their behaviour, and they may have no control over what is done with the data and who it might be sold to. The privacy concerns of social media and the abuses that have occurred recently are nothing compared to the problems that could result when the built environment can monitor one’s every move. Financing is another critical issue. The federal government has established the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) as an arm’s length Crown Corporation with an initial investment of $35 billion. According to the CIB’s website, “The Bank model builds on Canada’s mature public-private partnership market. The public-private partnership model is used to transfer certain construction and operating risks to the private sector. The Bank will foster partnerships between the public and private sectors where infrastructure projects are funded primarily by revenue from infrastructure usage.” While the public-private partnership (P3) model may be mature, it is not without its problems. In 2014, the OAA complained in a letter to Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure that under the Alternative Finance and Procurement (AFP) method being used, “Any innovation in design which is presented is not rewarded by offering advantage in the competition, nor is it monetarily compensated, and therefore innovation is not encouraged. The psychology is therefore to trim and not innovate. Once a design scheme has met the requirements of the base program, the low price becomes the focus.” But even low prices can be difficult to achieve in the P3 process, because of the enormous premiums included in the contracts to mitigate the transfer of risk to the private sector. Last June, the Columbia

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32 insites Institute released a report that states, “British Columbia will pay an additional $3.7 billion as a result of contracts signed between 2003 and 2016 to deliver 17 infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (P3s) rather than traditional procurement.” Alarmingly, the CIB is planning more than just a traditional P3 approach. According to Pierre Lavallée, the President of the CIB, “P3 arrangements typically include payments from the government when an asset becomes available—this model transfers construction and operating risk to private parties. The bank will use a co-investment model that takes the involvement of the private sector a step further to assume risks relating to usage or revenue. The bank’s co-investment can mitigate some of the usage and revenue risks for private-sector and institutional investors, or ‘inject’ capital at key points, making projects more attractive.” The history of P3s in Canada is mixed, but the fact of the matter is that if the private sector invests in our infrastructure, then they will reasonably expect to make a profit. If the model is extended to usage and revenue, then they will continue to expect to generate revenue from that infrastructure long after construction is complete. It is unclear what this means. Beyond road tolls, will it entail additional fees or taxes to send children to schools, or user fees every time someone visits a hospital? As Vivian Manasc, FRAIC, principal of Manasc Isaac Architects, has noted, “A systematic evaluation of all P3 projects in the world, completed in the past 25 years, has yet to be published. Before further large-scale P3 procurement experiments are undertaken, a rigorous analysis would seem to be in order. It would be helpful to identify the costs and benefits, and to whom each accrues.” As architects, we need to understand these procurement issues and prepare intelligent positions regarding them. In other words, the idea of infrastructure as a platform isn’t just about a technical framework—

calendar ACROSS CANADA Vancouver 05/07

AIBC Confab 2019 This new one-day event offers interactive workshops, panel discussions, and intimate seminars, all with the goal of promoting conversation and a shared learning experience.

Calgary 03/12—03/14

EVDS Design Matters Block Week The University of Calgary’s Design Matters lecture series ramps up with three speakers: Dora Epstein-Jones of UC Berkeley, Julie Larsen of APTUM A rchitecture, and Florian Idenburg of So-IL.

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Introduction to Passive House This full-day course provides an overview of the core principles of Passive House design and building energy efficiency regulations.

Winnipeg 01/31

The Price of Everything Presented in the Architecture+ Film series, The Price of Everything dives into the contemporary art world, holding a mirror up to our values and our times.


Terra Cotta Architecture Join the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation at the Millenium Library for a lecture by historian Gail Perry to learn about the city’s rich history of terra cotta architecture.

it has financial implications as well. Again, this emphasizes the need to think in a holistic manner about the built environment. When we do, it’s easy to see that we haven’t even begun to plumb the depths of these new opportunities in design and infrastructure. For instance, how can our buildings go beyond being “smart” to actively being able to learn? What could a skyscraper in Montreal learn from one in Toronto about how to withstand a wind storm? With the sensors of the Internet of Things, this becomes a real possibility. Similarly, our infrastructure needn’t just be sustainable; why can’t it be regenerative as well? And finally, our infrastructure needs to be more than resilient—it needs to be adaptive, because we cannot predict what new challenges we will face in the future. To this end, some are proposing radically new perspectives on the built environment. Philip Beesley, of the University of Waterloo, is leading a visionary interdisciplinary team of researchers in the Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG). As he explains it, “Integral to the LASG is the idea that we can create empathic environments in order to establish mutual relationships between individuals and their environments. These environments interact and react to their inhabitants in ways that suggest emotional intelligence and empathy, and that invite emotional responses from those inhabitants.” All of these ideas, from financing to empathic environments, have the potential to revolutionize the built environment—for better or worse. If we are not to be left behind, the profession of architecture needs to play a leadership role in exploiting the opportunities and addressing the challenges of our future infrastructure. D r. D ouglas MacL eod, FRAIC , is a registered architect and the C hair of the RAIC C entre for A rchitecture at A thabasca U niversity.

Toronto 01/17—01/20

IDS Toronto IDS Toronto celebrates and promotes design in Canada and across the world, with a hypercurated trade show and two-day symposium that focuses on future cities, experience, technology, and diversity and talent.


DesignTO Programming this year in what was formerly the Toronto Design Offsite Festival includes over 100 free events, exhibitions, and window installations across the city.


Architect@Work Canada 2019 Architect@Work is an exclusive event for architects, interior designers and specifiers with hundreds of innovative products and services.


RAIC Festival of Architecture This year’s Festival of Architec­ ture takes place in Toronto, with the theme, “The Future of Architecture.”

Ottawa 01/21

Material Operations Vancouver architect John Patkau presents a talk on the firm’s recent research as part of the Azreili School of Architecture and Urbanism’s Forum Lecture Series.


Anthropocene The National Gallery of Canada’s Anthropocene exhibition features new photographic and virtual reality works from the collective of Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

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New York

Coping with Complex Digital Objects This one-day conference shares the CCA’s experience on developing procedures and tools for its digital presesrvation program.

SSAC Conference The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC) hosts its 45th annual conference.

McGill Lecture Series – Shirley Blumberg KPMB A rchitects founding partner Shirley Blumberg delivers this year’s Canadian Institute of Steel Construction Lecture.


Architecture Itself and Other Postmodern Myths This exhibition brings together building fragments, drawings, models, and documents that present canonic projects from unexpected points of view.

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Paul Rudolph: The Hong Kong Journey On the occasion of Paul Rudolph’s centennial, this exhibition presents previously unseen drawings and sketches.


The Value of Good Design Through a broad selection of iconic objects, this exhibition explores the democratizing potential of design.





By the People: Designing a Better America The exhibition focuses on humanitarian design solutions in the modern world, examining how designers are addressing social, health, economic and environmental challenges faced by communities throughout the United States.

Home Futures In partnership with IKEA, this Design Museum exhibition explores whether we are living in the way that pioneering 20thcentury architects and designers envisioned, or holding fast to an idea of home that has proved resistant to real change. Items on display include new commissions.

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D an iel Y o un g & C h r ist ian Gir o u x

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The Possibility of an Absolute Urban Artifact TEXT

Christian Kliegel The scaffold-like Three Points Where Two Lines Meet incorporates a hydro mast that powers its LED lights. ABOVE

A traffic island in Toronto hosts an installation that is partartwork, part-infrastructure. As a newcomer to the city, one of my first encounters with Toronto’s many idiosyncrasies involved navigating a series of awkward intersections northwest of downtown. Just south of St. Clair Avenue, Vaughan Street cuts the city’s grid at a diagonal and veers to the west. This results in an uninhabitable traffic island that lay forlorn for decades, standing amidst the regular tangle of commuters in all directions. Artists Dan Young and Christian Giroux were recently commissioned to create a project on this site. Their response is Three Points Where Two Lines Meet, a new public artwork for the City of Toronto’s collection that includes a sculpture, the landscaping under it, and the sidewalk around it. At night, the site hosts a programmed ambient light show. Young and Giroux also created an accompanying Spotify playlist for viewers of the piece. (Search the public artwork title; it’s a trip.) The site-specific sculpture approximates a colourful scaffold, sitting at a level height of 3.2 metres. A highly engineered series

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of intersecting box trusses floats over the sidewalk. Slender diagonal columns touch the ground at three points, offset from the curb’s edge around the triangular island. The title of the sculpture comes from pop culture—specifically, British band Alt-J’s song Tessellate: “Triangles are my favourite shape / Three points where two lines meet…” The project can be read as a deformation of Superstudio’s Continuous Monument, which imagined a grid laid over every possible preexisting urban or rural artifact and landscape. Or perhaps it functions like a surreal study model of Yona Friedman’s Mobile Town Planning proposal, with new construction overhead and the surface of the ground below left free for plants and human activity. When making public art, artists are challenged to tap into a given site and draw out its specific urban qualities. They must strive to position a piece of work that makes the ground newly visible, transporting the viewer into a space where they cannot imagine the

site ever having existed without the work. This is no small feat. When I spoke with Dan Young, he acknowledged the inherent difficulties with creating work on this scale in the public sphere. The bold colours chosen for Three Points are one strategy for making Young and Giroux’s highly conceptual ideas permissible in the public sphere. As with many successful public art projects, the reaction to Three Points has been loud and mixed. Some locals detest this insertion into their lives, while others welcome the way it changes one’s perception of the neighbourhood. Akin to the monumental scope of Yona Friedman and Italian Utopians like Superstudio, Young and Giroux envision Three Points as a single experience that is part of a larger project. These architects and artists share a vision of the city as an infrastructural patchwork of connecting nodes, each characterized by activity and life. C hristian K liegel lives in T oronto and works at C arter AI.

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Canadian Architect January 2019  

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

Canadian Architect January 2019  

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