Canadian Architect October 2020

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OCTOBER 2020 03

Black architects speak out on systemic racism in the profession.


OAA award winners announced; designs unveiled for five LabÉcole schools.


Architect Sean McEwen and anthropologist Dan Small’s decades-long work to address social inequities on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.



12 UPPER SKEENA RECREATION CENTRE emsworth Architecture crafts a Central BC hub that’s a prototype for timber-built H ice rinks in other communities. TEXT Sean Ruthen


Coarchitecture, In Situ, and Jacques Plante architectes reimagine a heritage site in Old Quebec City as a new home for Robert Lepage’s Ex Machina theatre company. TEXT Olivier Vallerand


Architects Eladia Smoke and Craig Applegath discuss how the Mi’kmaq concept of Two-Eyed Seeing can inform architecture.


A historical study of modern architecture and climate, two manuals on designing with mass timber, and a monograph on architect Omar Gandhi.


A research trio at the Canadian Centre for Architecture examines the settler colonial legacy of Nunavut’s swimming pools.


A track-side building for Montreal’s F1 race, designed by FABG, brings together prefabricated systems with speed, precision and elegance. TEXT Marc Blouin

Le Diamant Theatre in Quebec City, Quebec, by Coarchitecture | In Situ | Jacques Plante architectes. Photo by Stéphane Groleau.


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LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE Architects of African, Caribbean and Black descent represent less than two percent of licensed practitioners in North America. Black women architects represent less than 0.3 percent of the industry. “It’s no wonder why many of them feel there isn’t a spot for them at the table,” says Nigerian-Canadian architect Sam Oboh, a past president of the RAIC, who recently moderated an online discussion on anti-Black racism hosted by Quadrangle’s Emerging Leaders Network. What does this bias look like? It can range from overtly aggressive threats—such as the nooses that appeared on several Toronto construction sites in June—to more subtle personal experiences. British architect Ossie Airewele, who recently moved to Toronto, says that there is often a moment of “shock” when collaborators first meet him in person, and realize that the person they’ve been corresponding with is Black. “What’s important to me is how they evaluate and react to that situation. Do they recognise that there is an unconscious bias at play; and can they move past this in order to collaborate as effectively with me—as a Black designer and architect—as they would with anyone else?” Other forms of racism are embedded in the built environment. “Toronto itself is a highly segregated city,” says urban planner Cheryll Case, who was raised in the city’s largely Black northwest sector. “In every public school I went to, I could count on one hand the number of White kids.” “Zoning bylaws and land lease values restrict spaces for the Black community to remote areas or limited transportation options,” adds architect Camille Mitchell. “Additionally, and unfortunately, we continue to live in a ‘police state’ where large gatherings of Black people are heavily scrutinized and deliberately dismantled.” How can some of these systemic barriers be dismantled? Allies have a role to play for all emerging practitioners—and particularly Black, Indigenous and people of colour. “I’m from a generation where you are prepared for the world by being told you have to work twice as hard to move half as far,” says Airewele. Allyship entails people with power seeing the potential beyond someone’s skin colour and sharing their power. The industry also needs organizations that support Black designers. “We need to build safe spaces where change can be made,” says Case. “Beyond our nine-to-five jobs, a lot of Black people have a second job fighting racism, building up institutional support to get things done. We need allies in those movements.”

In Canada, one such group is the recently formed Black Architects + Interior Designers Association (BAIDA). “BAIDA is currently preparing a portfolio review and a mentorship program with local design firms,” comments Mitchell, who was one of the group’s founders. “We are also looking to start a camp for Black youth to build the pipeline. Community support can simply include working within your realm of responsibility. You can offer space, suggest programs and promote the work of Black designers.” Within planning and real estate development, the Black Planners and Urbanists Association is advancing various strategies, including supporting the Ontario Provincial Planning Institute in improving professional capacities. Another group, the Black-led Toronto Community Benefits Network, focuses on ensuring that the construction of major government-funded infrastructure provides construction training and jobs to Black residents and other members of racialized groups or marginalized gender identities. “Firms may not be in a position to hire [Black designers], but can consult with these groups,” says Mitchell. Case adds that design firms should also consider seeking out Blackled teams among sub-consultants. Within firms, the panellists say that it’s important to cultivate forums for people to identify and address race-related microaggressions, both within offices and on jobsites. “Everyone should pursue unconscious bias training,” says Mitchell. “It’s not the responsibility of the Black employee to raise these conversations. I would hope that open-minded firms would take it upon themselves to have the difficult conversations.” Airewele says that larger organizations, such as the RAIC and provincial and territorial licensing authorities, ultimately have the most important role to play in addressing systemic racism and increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour within the profession. “Institutions need to think more broadly about how they can contribute and support people of all ethnicities, particularly on these really sensitive issues,” he says. “They need to be funding and committing to studies, then monitoring and assessing against the methods they are putting in place to help change things.” The panellists were clear that it is time for these discussions to happen more openly—and also for concrete action. “Just because you have a planning group that meets twice a month to discuss race issues, it doesn’t mean that the issues will be solved,” says Case. Elsa Lam

EDITOR ELSA LAM, FRAIC ART DIRECTOR ROY GAIOT CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ANNMARIE ADAMS, FRAIC ODILE HÉNAULT DOUGLAS MACLEOD, NCARB, MRAIC ONLINE EDITOR CHRISTIANE BEYA REGIONAL CORRESPONDENTS MONTREAL DAVID THEODORE CALGARY GRAHAM LIVESEY, MRAIC WINNIPEG LISA LANDRUM, MAA, AIA, MRAIC VANCOUVER ADELE WEDER, HON. MRAIC SUSTAINABILITY ADVISOR ANNE LISSETT, ARCHITECT AIBC, LEED BD+C VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR PUBLISHER STEVE WILSON 416-441-2085 x105 ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER FARIA AHMED 416-441-2085 x106 CUSTOMER SERVICE / PRODUCTION LAURA MOFFATT 416-441-2085 x104 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 WEBSITE Canadian Architect is published 9 times per year 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: $15.00. USA: $135.95 USD for one year. International: $205.95 USD per year. Single copy for USA: $20.00 USD; International: $30.00 USD. 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 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)


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Lab-École has unveiled the architectural designs for elementary schools in Gatineau, Maskinongé, Quebec City, Saguenay, Shefford, and Rimouski. With the exception of the concept for the Quebec City school, which was produced by the Lab-École team, all of the winning designs stem from the “Imagining the Schools of Tomorrow, Together” architectural design competition. This was the first school design competition in Quebec in nearly 50 years. The five winners include: Étienne Bernier architecture (EBA) + APPAREIL architecture + BGLA (Saguenay Lab-École school); DMA architectes (Gatineau Lab-École school); Pelletier de Fontenay + Leclerc architectes (Shefford Lab-École school), L’ŒUF + Lapointe Magne & associés (Rimouski Lab-École school); and Paquet-Taillefer + Leclerc architectes (Maskinongé Lab-École school) “We felt that holding an architectural design competition was a logical way to keep up our innovation momentum,” said architect Pierre Thibault, co-founder of the Lab-École initiative. “Competitions generate a wide variety of designs. They also help demonstrate Quebecers’ immense creativity, which will be put in service of the educational sector. The impressive number of proposals we received shows that Quebec architects want to contribute to these new living environments.” The designs are based on general guidelines and key elements developed over two years of research by the Lab-École team, including consultations with teachers, architects, researchers, parents, daycare service representatives, municipal elected officials, and educational organizations. The first Lab-École schools are slated to open their doors for the fall 2022 semester.

AWARDS OAA winners announced

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) has announced the winners of its 2020 Design Excellence Awards, as well as the recipients of this year’s Service Awards. The biennial OAA Awards program offers Ontario architects an opportunity to present their work to the public and to a professional audience. This year, the program began requiring Energy Use Intensity (EUI) metrics for all submissions, reflecting that sustainable design

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Lab-École unveils design for five Quebec schools

ABOVE An interior view of the competition-winning school design for Shefford, Quebec, by Pelletier de Fontenay and Leclerc architectes.

is no longer a specialty, but rather a critical component of all building projects as the architecture profession strives for climate stability. The winners of the 2020 OAA Design Excellence Awards are: Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool in Edmonton, Alberta by gh3; The Brearley School in New York City, New York, by KPMB Architects; Essex Centre of Research in Windsor by Hariri Pontarini Architects; River City Phase 3 in Toronto by Saucier + Perrotte Architectes in joint venture with ZAS Architects; The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building, Schulich School of Business, in Toronto by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects; Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia by KPMB Architects; Semi Semi in Toronto by COMN Architects; Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa by Diamond and Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects in Joint Venture; Trent University Student Centre in Peterborough by Teeple Architects; and Woodhouse in Singhampton, Ontario by Superkül. The Lifetime Design Achievement award was bestowed on Blanche Lemco van Ginkel for her career-long commitment to the promotion and achievement of architectural design excellence. The Order of da Vinci was awarded to Toon Dreessen for demonstrating exceptional leadership in the profession and in the community. The G. Randy Roberts Service Award went to Joe Lobko for providing extraordinary service to the membership and for “behind-thescenes” dedication and action. Office OU was named Best Emerging Practice.

WHAT’S NEW Berlin exhibition features work of Omer Arbel

The Berlin-based Aedes Architecture Forum’s current exhibition features the work of Vancouver architect Omer Arbel. The exhibition, entitled Omer Arbel: Architectural Experiments in Material and Form, focuses on four architectural projects along with a number of architectural objects. They are presented through drawings, prototypes, videos, large-scale models and sculptures. The exhibition provides insight into Arbel’s process, in a practice that cultivates a fluid position between the fields of architecture, sculpture, invention and design. The exhibition runs until October 22, 2020.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Addressing race

I am an architect in Toronto, and one of the founding partners at studioDOM Architects. I am also a woman of colour who understands the courage it takes to be a minority in the architecture profession. As a woman, I have felt the inequalities on site, in pay scales, and have felt the effects of race in the workplace. I have mostly worked in small- to mid-sized architectural firms in Ontario, and have almost always been the only person of colour in these offices. One of the main reasons for opening my own practice was because it was difficult, as a woman of colour, to move ahead in other practices—even with the same talents and experiences as my White colleagues.

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In June, the OAA conducted a framework analysis based on OAA member feedback. The findings around race, pay, equity and discrimination were not surprising to me as, as I have lived through it. However, the findings were shocking to my business partner, who is White and in a position of privilege. I am sure that various architectural associations within Canada have also summarized or acknowledged the inequalities in representation. Furthermore, I understand that various associations are doing their best to start a conversation and bring awareness around diversity, equality and race. As a country, we are a diverse nation, and unfortunately, the architectural profession is not diverse at all. For the past several months, I have watched many businesses and publications identify their support of Black Lives and people of colour. Some have even begun self-reflection on how they can promote diversity and equality. I applaud anyone for starting and continuing this conversation. Every month, I read Canadian Architect and am profoundly disappointed with the lack of effort in addressing this topic. Canadian Architect is a terrific tool, in my view, to bring the entire country together through architecture. As a valued publication, you have the ability to collaborate with every architectural association across Canada to bring awareness to this topic. I recently received the Canadian Architect August 2020 issue. I appreciate the thought put into “Reforming Justice Architecture.” However, the short essay glossed over the reasons on why we are rethinking police stations, and how those discriminations also live within our profession. In addition, I appreciate your efforts in dedicating several pages to highlighting Blanche Lemco van Ginkel’s career in architecture. This is of great importance for our time. The August issue continues with a review of the “Pandemic Effect.” I applaud that appropriate architects

were chosen to write about topics that are relevant to their experience, as I agree that it is important to learn from those that have lived experiences. I was disappointed that none of the architects chosen to participate were Black or people of colour; there is a lack of diversity in an article made up of numerous professionals across Canada. The magazine’s content regarding Indigenous architecture and architects is helpful in highlighting one race of Canada’s multiracial background. Unfortunately, at this time in our world, there is an urgency for businesses and people to take action towards acceptance of Black Lives and people of colour as well. That action only sticks in our society if there is reflection on diversity as a whole. There are many ways to approach a sensitive topic, however, as a person of colour, I feel that your approach is not sufficiently appreciative of the minority groups within our profession who live with inequalities. The Black community and minorities have not felt supported or represented through Canadian Architect for the entire 2020 year. As a proud Canadian who is an architect of colour, I feel that your magazine has a great role in educating, promoting and highlighting people and firms who are diverse in our country. You have the ability to start a conversation and invite your audience to reflect. I am saddened that you have chosen, as of late, not to do so. -Allison Gonsalves, studioDOM Architects

ADDENDUM Man in/and his World

Our August profile of RAIC Gold Medallist Blanche Lemco van Ginkel included a preliminary plan for Expo 67 with the caption “Blanche’s vision statement for the world’s fair, which she titled ‘Man in his World’, outlined the theme which shaped Expo’s guiding principles.” Reader Victor Kolynchuk inquired whether an error had been made, since the final theme for Expo 67 was “Man and his World.” Kolynchuk referred to Gabrielle Roy’s account of how the theme was developed based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book Terre des hommes, in a threeday meeting at the Seigneury Club in Montebello, Quebec. The meeting was attended by her, novelist Hugh MacLennan, planner Claude Robillard, and other prominent Canadian thinkers. We contacted Blanche van Ginkel’s daughter, Brenda, who supplied the caption information. “The caption as written is correct,” says Brenda. She explained that Blanche’s writing predates the conference, as can be seen in documents held at the van Ginkel Associates archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Blanche says that before the theme for Expo was “Man and his World,” Blanche and Sandy van Ginkel’s vision was to show man’s hand in shaping the world, rather than showing man’s place in the world. “Personally, I think this truly reflects their modernist roots,” says Brenda. “While the theme did indeed become ‘Man and his World,’ Blanche emphasized that that is not where she and Sandy started, when I had asked her about this a few years ago. Their intent was different than that when they wrote their vision for Expo.” The firm van Ginkel Associates was originally hired as planners for Expo 67 and Sandy was the first planner for the city on the project, until a change in leadership brought others into these roles. Piecing the narratives together, Blanche and Sandy van Ginkel were the first to advance the Expo theme—with a slightly different phrasing. The theme was selected by the organizers and further developed at the Montebello conference.


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Comparisons between architecture and medicine are frequent: we talk of sick buildings, the heart of a community, and healing the city. But seldom is there opportunity to write of a direct link. Earlier this year, the new Upper Skeena Recreation Centre—a project championed by a national and local leader in rural medicine—opened to great fanfare, serving three townships and eight First Nations communities near the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers in Central BC. “Our whole diverse community has come together in an unprecedented and determined way to offer new hope—in the creation of the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre—to our children and young people,” said Dr. Peter Newbery, a rallying force behind the project. “In this Hemsworth-designed recreation centre we have a spectacular resource to contribute to the health and well-being of our community.” Newbery is a respected figure throughout Central BC, where he has served as a family physician and helped to recruit and support healthcare professionals for decades—work that garnered him the Order of Canada. A few years ago, Newbery and Vancouver architect John Hemsworth met by chance. Hemsworth was engaged in research for BC Wood on wood arena prototypes, and chose to visit Hazelton for its average Hazelton’s ice rink uses a clear-span-and-bracket timber structural system. The rink became part of a BC Wood research paper by Hemsworth Architecture, detailing how similar timber-framed ice rinks could replace aging arenas throughout the province.


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BC snow loads—only to discover on arrival that the community’s wellloved ice rink was reaching the end of its life cycle. Hemsworth’s long work in promoting wood use and Passive House design was recognized by a 2016 Governor General’s award, bestowed for a Passive House-standard factory for manufacturing mass timber panels. In Hazelton, Hemsworth set to work with structural engineers Equilibrium and contractors Yellowridge, demonstrating that a new rec center could be built in wood for roughly the same cost as a fabricated steel structure. Hemsworth discussed other advantages of using wood with Newbery, the elected and traditional hereditary chiefs representing both the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en nations, and the representatives of the municipalities. The wood would be a renewable resource, harvested from BC forests, and construction could be completed by local trades. The town of Old Hazelton, established pre-Confederation in 1866, is located near the site of an 8,000-year-old Gitxsan village, and sits in the shadow of the kilometre-high Stegyawden Mountain. In the 1860s, the Omineca Gold Rush brought prospectors by sternwheeler; later, the Grand Trunk railroad brought even more people. Eventually, two more towns were established nearby: New Hazelton and South Hazelton.

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The area’s townships and Indigenous villages have comprised Newbery’s catchment for some 42 years, and he is well known by the 7,000 people that call the region home. With the support of local representatives, he rallied official and informal resources together behind this important project. Funding for the building came from federal and provincial governments, who provided $8 million and $4 million respectively for the project. The doctor and his team were also able to secure private donations, including an anonymous $3-million gift. As is the case with any project, the course did not always run smooth. What were thought to be the foundations of an old hospital next to the existing ice rink turned out to be extensive bedrock. The increased cost of blasting for the new foundations was offset by eliminating a planned kitchen. Despite this, the basketball courts and fitness centre were saved, such that the 5,000-square-metre facility can host hockey and basketball events at the same time. It can also be open year-round—a significant benefit, as the original program had only called for a seasonal facility. As part of his research for BC Wood, Hemsworth priced out three different options for constructing a standard ice rink from timber: using truss, arch, and clear-span-and-bracket systems. In the version chosen

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OPPOSITE The centre serves three townships and eight First Nations communities in the region. Hockey is especially important as a healthy means of socializing for the region’s youth. ABOVE The fitness centre overlooks the clerestory-lit basketball court. RIGHT The locker rooms are wrapped in wood and outfitted with simple benches.

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OPPOSITE Private fundraising, led by a prominent regional doctor, allowed for the centre to be constructed as a year-round facility including a basketball court, rather than the seasonal arena originally planned. The previous ice rink was refurbished for outdoor use, providing additional recreation space on the site. LEFT A stair leads up to the viewing concourse, fitness centre and a community room.

for Hazelton, the clear-span-and-bracket, two cantilevered beams splice into a third to complete an almost 40-metre span. The bracket beams greatly reduce the bending moment, resulting in an efficient and costeffective structure. The roof is set at a gentle five percent slope, and glulam beams and columns are exposed throughout the facility. Opposite the bleachers, a mural by Gitxsan artist Michelle Stoney pays tribute to the local hockey teams, figure skating organizations, and athletes that have used Old Hazelton’s arena over the past 40 years. A traditional cedar pole—donated by Symoget Niisnoolh and Ray Jones and enhanced by Symoget Delgamuk and Earl Muldoe of Gitsegukla Nation—will soon be raised at the recreation centre’s entrance. Hemsworth recalls how the original arena had to be evacuated for fear of structural collapse. When visiting the existing A-frame structure with structural engineer Robert Malczyk, the two discovered that the 42-year-old building—then open and filled with people—was unsafe. “I’m philosophical, and in some other world we didn’t show up that day and there was a disaster,” says Hemsworth. “But that didn’t happen—and instead, we have this wonderful new arena.” The community was initially devastated by the closing of the rink. To respond, they decided to use $250,000 of the new building’s budget

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to demolish the unsafe structure and refurbish the existing rink for outdoor use during the new building’s construction. Newbery says that the new building is much beloved, and was well used for five-and-a-half months prior to the onset of COVID-19. The eight villages in his catchment are now under strict lockdown measures. Old, New, and South Hazleton used to host visitors who would travel to see the 8,000-year-old Gitxsan village at the fork of the two rivers; they have all but seen their tourism industry disappear this past summer. Nonetheless, the recreation centre endures as a symbol of widespread support and future hope for the communities. During the fundraising efforts for the centre, the Vancouver Canucks sent three NHL heavyweights—Dave Babych, Kirk McLean, and Jyrki Lumme—to skate on the newly restored outdoor ice. As a facility shared across multiple communities, Old Hazleton’s new recreation centre brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, adults, and Elders, supporting inter-generational inclusion and diversity. ABOVE A pared-down palette of warm cedar cladding, standing seam metal and concrete block gives the centre a clean, modern appearance.

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The importance of the facility, in particular for the youth in these remote communities, cannot be over-stated. In BC and across Canada, such buildings keep youth healthy and engaged, working together through sport in ways that few other places in their communities can offer. Hopefully, the centre is only the first of its kind. In tandem with the centre’s completion, Hemsworth released his white paper on behalf of BC Wood detailing how similar wood structures could replace other arenas. According to Hemsworth, close to 200 arenas in the province are nearing the end of their life cycles. New wood versions—especially if they are as handsome as the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre—will surely be embraced as the hearts of their respective communities. Sean Ruthen, FRAIC, is a Metro Vancouver-based architect and the current RAIC regional director for BC and Yukon.


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Le Diamant Theatre, Quebec City, Quebec Coarchitecture | In situ | Jacques Plante architectes TEXT Olivier Vallerand PHOTOS Stéphane Groleau PROJECT


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Second floor Stage (upper section) - Scène (partie haute) Parterre - Gradins Foyer Vestibule - Entrée de la salle Freight elevator - Monte-charge 1






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Stage - Scène Parterre - Gradins Restaurant Foyer Rehersal space - Salle de répétition Office spaces - Bureaux Terrace - Terrasse Vestibule - Entrée de la salle Control booth - Régie Grill - Gril






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On the surface, the work of playwright, actor and director Robert Lepage is multifaceted. But at its core is often a dialogue between his hometown, Quebec City, and the world, and a concern with the relationship between memory and contemporary experiences. Those dichotomies are embodied in the architecture of Le Diamant, the new home for Lepage’s theatre company, Ex Machina. The stateof-the-art facility, designed in joint venture by Coarchitecture, In Situ, and Jacques Plante, gives Lepage and his team a Quebec City stage for their internationally recognized works. The new building also explores the past lives of the site, in a similar way to the company’s previous headquarters in Caserne Dalhousie, a renovated Second Empire-style fire station (see CA, November 1997). The venue’s name—French for “The Diamond”—stems from Quebec City’s site on Cape Diamond, a promontory that juts into the St. Lawrence River. Architect Jacques Plante, who was also behind



the design of Caserne Dalhousie (with Marc Julien), originally proposed to transform an abandoned highway tunnel into a performance venue, not far from Le Diamant’s final location. After this idea fell through, Ex Machina held a competition in 2015 to reuse a longabandoned downtown YMCA and adjacent Cabaret du Capitole, known for decades as the Cinéma de Paris. The winning project ran with the idea of the diamond, creating a faceted glass atrium that joins two parts of the project: the partially rebuilt YMCA and a more opaque box replacing the Cinéma de Paris, and containing two performance spaces—the multipurpose stage and the creation studio, where audiences can view open rehearsals of worksin-progress. The atrium also connects two parts of the public square Place d’Youville, following an axis that echoes an earlier road on the site. The gesture, while a bit obvious, makes the building easy to understand visually, and connects with the history and urban context

OPENING SPREAD Located just outside the fortifications of Old Quebec, the new theatre partially restores a 19th-century YMCA and replaces an adjacent cinema. A circular glass sculpture hangs outside the entrance, paying homage to the cinema’s iconic sign, which was too damaged to restore. OPPOSITE A glass wall joins the lobby and a ground floor restaurant, inviting the activity of the two spaces to mingle. ABOVE The second floor foyer integrates wood-framed partitions salvaged from the original structure, and rebuilt as they were found in the abandoned building.

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of the location. In contrast to Ex Machina’s dark environment in their previous home, the atrium in Le Diamant brings in an abundance of natural light for the offices and foyer spaces. From the outside, it breaks down the volume of the building. While the competition concept stayed the same throughout a long design process, some changes were made. For instance, the team had initially planned to replace the YMCA’s mansard roof with a contemporary iteration, but instead moved forward with reconstructing the original. Such decisions reflect the care with which the designers worked with the theatre company to integrate the space-intensive program and technical requirements, without making the resulting building too massive or disruptive in its UNESCO heritage setting. An especial challenge was accommodating the fly tower—something uncommon in multipurpose venues, but essential for Lepage’s productions. The design team used the extra height to visually bridge between the nearby fortification walls and neighbouring Capitole Theatre and RBC Tower. They also covered the tower with stainless steel, a material selected through tests to see what would blend best with Quebec City’s sky. The tight space also brought acoustic and programmatic challenges. A concrete shell surrounds the main stage and fly tower, with the lobby, foyers, and offices acting as a double skin, dampening the sounds from the busy streets outside. In the office spaces, stepped nooks are used to elegantly resolve differences in floor levels resulting from the adaptive reuse. These nooks offer quieter, secluded views towards the western half of Place d’Youville. The sculptural main stair, along with a strategic use of mirrors and transparent elements, helps create a dynamic environment despite the spatial constraints. A glass wall between the lobby and a restaurant on the ground floor of the former YMCA (independently managed and designed by another team) ensures a visual

OPPOSITE Set on an angle, the atrium traces the axis of an earlier road on the site. The atrium’s faceted geometry resonates with the venue’s name, which refers to Quebec City’s location on Cape Diamond. TOP Blending old and new, the main theatre space pairs sidewalls inspired by the historic building’s archways with an unapologetically industrial ceiling grid.

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connection with the lively restaurant and Place d’Youville beyond. The washrooms are all-gender, a decision that derived both from the limited floor plate and a desire to make the venue more accessible. Le Diamant’s most striking features come from the client’s and architects’ shared interest in the memory of place. Many elements are imagined as “ghosts” of past buildings—historical layers that hover over or under the contemporary building. At the entrance, artist Claudie Gagnon’s glass sculpture, titled Atome ou le fruit des étoiles, reimagines the much-loved Cinéma de Paris sign that had hung in that location since 1948. The client had initially wanted to restore the sign, but a 2007 fire had rendered it too delicate to retain. The ground floor lobby incorporates art deco lighting and other elements from the old theatre. On the mostly opaque stage-side façade, fronting Des Glacis Steet, the architects photo-engraved concrete panels with a full-scale reproduction of drawings for an unbuilt YMCA addition. The images were taken from original drawings by Joseph Ferdinand Peachy, the architect of the main YMCA building, built in 1879. (An addition was completed in 1898, but not as Peachy had designed it. In 1947, it was demolished and replaced by the Cinéma de Paris and a restaurant.) The subtle photo-engraving process—playing with light and shadows to allude to the use of optical illusions in theatrical performances—is quite impactful at night, but is unfortunately too subtle at other times of the day. To this reviewer, the new-build portion of Le Diamant still feels heavy and disparate compared to the existing façade, but the ghost-like graphic adds a touch of urban drama for passengers boarding buses at the nearby interchange. The gesture continues inside the main perThe atrium culminates in a upper roof terrace, with sweeping views of Old Quebec and the Upper Town. BOTTOM A restrained interior palette includes bare concrete walls and floors, along with mirrored ceilings strategically placed to visually expand tighter spaces.


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formance space, which is ringed by black walls that reproduce the arched openings of the YMCA façade, adding a sense of monumentality to the otherwise unadorned, transformable space. The second-floor foyer—mostly situated within the footprint of the old YMCA—evokes the building’s past in a particularly inventive way. The space integrates cast-iron columns, found in the basement during construction, and reuses wood framing from the old structure. The partitions were rebuilt as they were found, already stripped of their plaster. These elements are treated like stage décor, with scant connection to the new construction or to the architectural treatment on other floors. Coffered ceilings and the patterning of the wood floor mimic the former room divisions. Arched shear walls and backing for the exterior walls, both originally made of brick, have been replaced with bare concrete walls. The resulting foyer feels open and vast enough for a cultural venue, while also offering smaller, more intimate spaces for conversation. ABOVE The theatre’s southwest façade is photo-engraved with images of an addition that had been planned for the site by the YMCA’s original architect in the 19th century, but never constructed.

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Le Diamant successfully builds on and contributes to its context on two levels. From afar, the transparency of the atrium highlights the theatre’s buzz of activity, and adds to the life of Place d’Youville. From up close, the building reveals traces of the past, playfully highlighting the experience of memory in a way that goes beyond mere façadism. Whereas the Caserne Dalhousie alluded to theatre traditions by replicating elements of the historic façade as if it was a stage set, Le Diamant invites visitors to explore its different spaces and imagine its past through intriguing clues. Just as Lepage masterfully transforms everyday objects into unforgettable stories, Le Diamant excavates through layers of spatial memory, bringing sparkling treasure to light. Olivier Vallerand is Assistant Professor at The Design School, Arizona State University.


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RACING ALONG MONTREAL’S F1 TRACK, A NEW PADDOCK BUILDING CHAMPIONS SUSTAINABILITY. Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada New Paddock, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec Les architectes FABG TEXT Marc Blouin PHOTOS Steve Montpetit PROJECT


Designing a new paddock for the Formula One Grand Prix in Montreal would be a dream project for any architect who loves auto racing. For his part, however, Eric Gauthier, principal of Les architectes FABG, freely admits that he had no interest in Formula One before winning the project. FABG, nonetheless, was deservedly awarded this out-of-the-ordinary commission. The firm has long been involved with working in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The park occupies an island, just south of downtown Montreal. It’s the site of Expo 67 and the location of the racetrack that bears the name of legendary Quebec driver Gilles Villeneuve, who won the first Grand Prix contested on the circuit in October 1978, in a light fog of snow, at the helm of a Ferrari. FABG founder André Blouin was the associated architect for the French pavilion at Expo 67. In 1993, FABG converted the former US pavilion—a dome by Buckminster Fuller—into an environmental museum. For the F1 paddock, the architects channelled the spirit of the light, temporary, and often prefabricated pavilions that were built for Expo 67—along with having a streamlined aesthetic in mind. Prefabrication would reduce the required on-site construction time, making it an attractive choice, given the extremely tight timetable for the delivery of the paddock. The chosen approach was remarkable for its A cross-laminated timber canopy greets visitors to the F1 paddock, which houses team garages, bleachers, and operation spaces for race organizers, media and sponsors. ABOVE The building runs parallel to the pit lane and a section of the racetrack.


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The paddock eschews air-conditioned terraces, instead offering open-air seating that saves energy and brings spectators closer to the action. The wood roof’s triangulated structure references Buckminster Fuller’s nearby geodesic dome, which was built for Expo 67 and later adaptively reused as a environmental museum. ABOVE


approach to risk management, as well as for the coordination needed to combine several different prefabrication systems in the building’s structure and envelope. In order to reduce reliance on a single supplier, the architects decided to select three sub-contractors. Each was responsible for one of the project’s major components: the prefabricated concrete for the team garages, bleachers, and stairs; the steel superstructure; and the glulam and cross-laminated timber roof. The three superimposed layers create an impression of lightness and fluidity, despite the building’s strong modularity. The wood roof floats over a middle level of terraces and bleachers that is entirely open to the outdoors. The exposed design allows one to appreciate the precise connection details between the building’s component strata—especially the complex geometry of the connections between the Y-shaped steel columns and the structural wood roof members. The most spectacular aspect of the project is its wood roof, which unifies the interior and exterior of the building. The roof extends to form a wood-skeleton canopy over the building’s adjoining spaces. FABG used this strategy in earlier projects, notably, in the Salle multifunctionnelle de Mont-Laurier, and most recently, for a theatre in Repentigny. The concept of a structure with timber cribbing was previously employed by Saucier + Perrotte and HCMA for Montreal’s Stade de

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Soccer, where it was deployed in an organic, free-flowing composition. The pleated effect that results from this type of roof can be seen in the new British Grand Prix paddock at Silverstone, designed by Populous, making for photogenic aerial views during televised broadcasts. In FABG’s paddock, the wood cribbing is more understated. Its triangulated pattern references Fuller’s geodesic dome, which can be seen in the distance. FABG’s modernist influences are visible in the geometric rigour of the roof, as well as the orthogonality of the building’s overall volumes. Approaching the paddock, visitors find themselves directly on the long axis of the linear building. A monumental staircase leads up to the terraces, inscribed within the large volume bounded by the roof structure. The view from these terraces gives an impression of being at the afterdeck of a ship, gazing at a furrow-like wake formed by the long straight line of the racetrack and the pit lane. Prime spot! At the opposite end of the building, offices for the event’s sponsors project past the roof structure, giving the building directionality, as if it were a cruise liner docked at Montreal’s port. As a whole, the building forms the welcoming infrastructure for the grand circus of Formula One that descends on Montreal once a year, with its own furnishings, moveable partitions, and equipment for F1

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personnel and competitors, media and guests. In the case that Formula One ever withdrew Montreal from the circuit, the program anticipated that the whole building could be repurposed for other functions—or entirely disassembled and moved to another site. This concept of reusing spaces and structures is linked to larger principles of sustainability. F1 has taken a green turn in recent years, and the architects wished to counterbalance the energy-consumptive context of the sport with an environmentally advanced building. The resulting structure uses carbon-sequestering wood, solar panels, and non-airconditioned terraces, contributing to a positive image of the event, as well as to a significant reduction of its ecological footprint. The new Montreal paddock also reflects F1’s desire to dismantle its elitist image, in keeping with our times. Its recent support of Black Lives Matter, led by six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, is an eloquent sign of this change. The choice to include open-air terraces throughout the Montreal building aligns with the spirit of outdoor events, and the summer festivals that animate the city. Along with the Grand Prix events in Austin, Texas, and Mexico City, it follows in a North American tradition where auto racing is part of popular culture, rather than a global event where celebrities imbibe cocktails in air-conditioned boxes, insulated from the roar of motors.

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ABOVE Offices for the event’s sponsors project past the end of the wood roof, giving the building a sense of directionality. LEFT During non-race times, the track is used by local cyclists for training.

Through their work, the architects seem to level a critique against the excessive costs and ostentation of Formula One. Interestingly, though, the most important and least visible aspect of Formula One is its support of research and development. The conception and construction of FABG’s advanced wood canopies follows a similar R&D process to the technology-driven sport: development of a concept, evolution of form, technological refinement—all to arrive at a finished product, the F1 Paddock, that perfectly fulfills a given mandate. Pushing the analogy further, the construction of the project in less than 10 months—the interval of time between two Grand Prix races—is similar to the work of mechanics, who labour overnight on Saturday to restore a car in time for the Sunday afternoon race. Overall, a roaring success. Architect Marc Blouin is co-founder of Montreal-based Blouin Orzes architectes.


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Sean McEwen and Dan Small

HOW CAN ARCHITECTURE CREATE PLACES THAT WELCOME SOCIETY’S MOST MARGINALIZED PEOPLE, AND HELP THEM TO DO BETTER? For over two decades, architect Sean McEwen and medical anthropologist Dan Small have been involved in designing and advocating for vulnerable populations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—including North America’s first supervised injection site. Here’s the story of their endeavours, in their own words.

THE ARCHITECT AND THE ANTHROPOLOGIST SEAN MCEWEN: I first met the principals of the Portland Hotel Soci-

ety about 25 years ago, when I was working as an affordable housing activist in Vancouver. I was really struck by the social-serving activists who worked with the Portland, and began to collaborate with them on a number of projects. Over the years, they asked me to be the architect on such wonderful projects as the supervised injection site, the Interurban arts centre on the Downtown Eastside, a bank for low-income folks, social enterprises like East Van Roasters, and an urban farm.

DAN SMALL: Medical anthropologists, like other anthropologists, study

culture, but they focus on culture in healthcare. My particular interest is the lived experience of healthcare and illness. To borrow a phrase from another medical anthropologist, Byron Good, while a physician might look at a patient as a site for disease, an anthropologist sees them as a site for story.

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A Downtown Eastside church expresses support for the local supervised injection site, whose operation was challenged by the federal government. ABOVE RIGHT The Portland Hotel Society, which operates housing including the Pennsylvania Hotel, has long been involved in advocating for vulnerable populations on the Downtown Eastside. ABOVE LEFT

AN ANTHRO-ARCHITECTURAL APPROACH DS: Stories give us a sense of profound experiences in people’s lives. This

is a key part of the anthro-architectural approach that Sean and I have been working together on. It focuses on people’s experiences, their stories, the sense of meaning they derive from their community and their lives.

SM: As an architect, my work assists in explaining these stories and visualizing how they might manifest in real-world buildings and tenant improvements. I see my role as an advocacy planner—a communitybased designer who takes the time to hear the stories. It’s a role that also incorporates the input of institutional stakeholders, and negotiates a path with the requirements of the regulatory system. As an architectadvocate, I try to defend and implement community aspirations, which can often be at odds with the status quo.

“FOUR BLOCKS OF HELL” DS : The work that Sean and I do takes place within the Downtown East-

side. It’s a place that’s been characterized by the media as dangerous, sick, mean, falling to pieces. The Vancouver Sun described the downtown east side as “Four Blocks of Hell.” These narratives reflect how the community is perceived, and also affect architects as they’re trying to get work finished.

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Brazilian anthropologist João Biehl coined the term “zone of abandonment,” to describe areas where we have essentially sequestered people away, along with the social issues they represent. Our work tries to transform the Downtown Eastside from a “zone of abandonment” to a “zone of acceptance.” We want to create places that include people and welcome them back in the human family. Zones of acceptance can take many forms—in healthcare, housing, support services or social enterprise. If you’re not allowed to have pets or shopping carts in a homeless shelter, that’s a barrier that’s put in place by a system. If we remove that rule, we’ve lowered the threshold for entering the shelter, and thereby reached a target group which was excluded. The ultimate result is to create a stronger zone of acceptance.

THE PORTLAND HOTEL SOCIETY DS: In the 90s, I began working with the Portland Hotel, a single room

occupancy (SRO) hotel in the downtown east side. It was used by a group of people who have a wide variety of healthcare needs: HIV, hepatitis, ongoing drug addiction. At that time, these people were dramatically excluded from all walks of life: restaurants, primary healthcare, policy, social housing, dentistry, employment. One of the great thinkers in stigma, Irving Goffman, described people who are stigmatized as being “not quite human”— they have a socially tarnished identity. Other thinkers, such as the psychiatrist Arthur Kleinman, describes a process whereby people are perceived as having “earned” their illness and lot in life. If someone tells you they have been diagnosed with lung cancer, the first question people ask is: “were you a smoker?” This digs at the idea of earned illnesses. The related idea of sequestering comes from social scientist Anthony Giddens, who describes the way we hide away things that we’re afraid of in life, “sequestering” them, such as mental illness and criminality. I argue that many of the people we’ve created services for, on the Downtown Eastside, are treated as socially constructed lepers. At the Portland Hotel, we developed a no-eviction policy. At the time, you could not receive funding to provide housing for active drug users. The Portland said, “let’s make it a rule that housing is sacrosanct, and you can’t be kicked out of this housing even if you are someone

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with an active addiction.” This was very astonishingly controversial. It was considered to be a kind of programmatic witchcraft. The Portland became a founding ground for “housing first” policies. After the hotel was renovated into The Pennsylvania, it was also the birthplace of the first needle exchange located inside a housing facility, and had the first low-threshold methadone program.

NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST SAFE INJECTION FACILITY DS: The Portland’s supervised injection facility, today co-managed by the

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, is perhaps one of the most controversial pieces of cultural real estate in North America. (Despite the overdose epidemic on the continent, the United States still does not have a single officially sanctioned supervised injection facility; Canada now has 40.) Its main goal was to reach people who were using drugs on the hungry side of town, in the alleys and SROs. Those people were in need of interventions to just keep them alive—to reduce fatal overdoses and the spread of HIV and hepatitis. This was the primary biomedical outcome of the program. But it also had more referrals to detox and treatment than any other addiction program. Moreover, people that were referred by the injection facility were more likely to complete their treatment.

SM: Among the first ideas for the supervised injection site was that

it would incorporate a facility we called “detox on demand.” From time to time, people who are involved in addictions feel like their lifestyle is not right: they know that they’re putting themselves in personal danger. And at those times they feel an impetus to try and turn things around. But the regular healthcare system entails referrals and waiting time, which can be a big impediment to an addicted person who wants to make changes in their life. At the safe injection site, when an addict makes it clear that they want to try and kick their habit, there is a facility located in the same building for them to access right away. I began working with Dan and other folks at the Portland and in the community to put these needs down on paper. I put together a design proposal that we showed to various regulatory bodies and politicians. The mayor at the time, Larry Campbell, made a public commitment to see the facility opened within a six-month time period. There was a push to fast-

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track design, approvals, and construction to meet the promised timeline. Rival narratives needed to be negotiated to make for a successful project. For example, we were establishing the safe injection site in an older building on Hastings Street that had a development permit requirement for retail continuity of storefronts. So we decided to make it look like the coffee shop that was there in the past. As well, part of the design agenda was that we wanted to create a home-like atmosphere. We wanted to make sure that people felt welcome. We created an interior with appropriate lighting and residentialtype flooring. Nothing was very costly, but we wanted to make sure people felt comfortable inside the space. When the facility opened, there were some folks in the health services and regulatory end that felt that the finished product was too good for addicts. There was a concern that the lighting was reminiscent of a higherend interior. Similarly, we had a donation of a cappuccino machine, so that we could demonstrate that part of the facility was a place to sit and have a coffee. This was deemed to be showing the wrong kind of image. DS: The regulator and some of the funders made us remove the cappuccino machine and cover the floor, which was a sheet vinyl product that looked like a wood floor, and ultimately balked at the overhead lighting. SM: They said that the concern was one of cost, so I said I’d pay for the lighting fixtures. And that seemed to solve the problem. DS: These kinds of ideas were very powerful, and they still are very powerful today. There’s a petition being organized against supervised injection sites in Ontario. We need to be aware of the wider cultural narrative at play when we’re trying to design these innovations.

THE INTERURBAN ARTS CENTRE SM: The Portland was also looking at providing ongoing community renewal through support for the arts. They supported murals and local photography exhibitions in the past. They thought there should be an art gallery and studio space that would be a centre for local folks to expand their talents.

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A sketch of the InterUrban Gallery shows the idea of using a streetcar as a stage during a temporary closure of Carrall Street. CENTRE A preliminary sketch of Pigeon Park Savings captures the welcoming, inclusive atmosphere envisaged for the community bank. RIGHT A concept drawing for the Woodward’s site helped stakeholders to visualize the development of market-rate and subsidized housing on this prominent block. LEFT

We looked at a number of different sites around Carrall and Hastings Streets—ground zero of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Finally, the Portland got a lease for one of the oldest brick buildings in the city. It was once a grocery store run by one of Vancouver’s first mayors. When we got it, the ground f loor had been a warren of little retail shops. We cleared it out and created an open and airy gallery, with a strong relationship to Pioneer Square and Pigeon Park across the street. It’s now home to various arts groups, including First Nations carvers. This corner was famous in Vancouver’s early days as the centre of the Interurban Streetcar network. As part of the heritage renewal of the area, we wanted to recreate a streetcar and use it as a street performance venue. We developed the two-storey brick building with full-height rail shed doors. We have a bed inside the building waiting to house an Interurban car replica that we can use as a performance venue, wheeling it out onto Carrall Street. All of these various initiatives aim to build local pride, giving Downtown Eastsiders a sense of possibility for community expression, and supporting their artistic endeavours.

PIGEON PARK SAVINGS SM: One of the basic obstacles to feeling part of society is when people have difficulty making the simplest financial transactions at a bank. In the Downtown Eastside, most of the major banks closed their branches over the years. People had to rely on payday loan places and other usurious institutions for simple financial services. The Portland wanted to fight this financial exclusion by creating a low-threshold bank, where the tellers would be familiar with the kinds

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of social issues and hardships faced by local residents, and could act as advisors. The bank also provides for some kind of personal identification for these folks, who oftentimes have trouble getting a simple ID card.

EAST VAN ROASTERS SM: The Portland was also involved in social enterprises. East Van Roasters is a heritage interior near that corner of Carrall and Hastings. It allowed women that had been marginalized, that were working in the sex trade and suffering from drug addiction, to develop new skill sets. The enterprise is very successful today. It is employing a number of these women and giving them a sense of purpose and dignity, in quite beautiful surroundings that are welcoming to the public and to the local community, including fellow addicts—people working to make a better life. DS: We often think of vocation as something that is more than just a job.

Sometimes we think that low-income communities don’t need this sense of vocation—but perhaps they might need it even more. This facility, which is a bean-to-bar chocolate shop, has women recovering from addictions who can become chocolatiers, and go from one end of their experience of detox, on the upper floor of the project, to the ground floor of the building, where they can make award-winning chocolate.

WOODWARD’S CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT SM: Another part of the advocacy I’ve been involved with at the Port-

land is providing conceptual drawings. These are tools that the community can use to talk about their needs with other jurisdictions and levels of government. Twenty years ago, there had been a years-long planning process around the Woodward’s building in downtown Vancouver. Once the department store closed down, a first proposal was to use the whole of the existing building for market and non-market housing. The developer pulled out, and there was a vacuum with a lot of uncertainly around what would happen next with this important building site. I was asked by the Portland to try and re-imagine what the area would look like with an adaptive reuse of the department store,

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ABOVE An early floor plan for InSite included a supervised smoking room for clients who inhale rather than injecting drugs, but that use was not supported by decision-makers. The space became a staff office.

while incorporating high-density and high-rise residential development that would help pay for a large number of social housing units. I wasn’t involved past the initial ideas for the site. Eventually the project was developed and completed wonderfully well by Henriquez Partners, to the benefit of the community.

NARRATIVE COMPETENCE DS: It’s possible to have technical competence and also narrative or cultural competence. Beyond having technical skills as an architect, you can also develop skills in uncovering implicit and explicit values, to see how these drive narrative plots with respect to how we develop services—or don’t—within communities. Anthro-architecture, first and foremost, wants to uncover these implicit and explicit values to see how culture shapes our public understanding of projects, communities and groups of people. To some extent, rather than looking at problematic target groups, we focus on the problems that institutions, organizations, and professionals might put in place themselves. To borrow an idea from another academic, psychiatrist Laurence Kirmayer, rather than looking for “sin” in individuals, we’re looking for “sin” in systems. SM: We’re trying to describe a realm of possibilities for the future. There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde: “Nature, no less than Life, is an imitation of Art.” People didn’t really see the atmospheric effects of the River Thames until an artist painted it. Similarly, the architect can assist with the visualization of how to improve things in local communities, and help with pointing in the direction to create social improvements. This article is based on a presentation delivered at the RAIC Conference this summer. Sean McEwen is a Vancouver-based architect. Dan Small is a medical anthropologist at the University of British Columbia.

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Eladia Smoke and Craig Applegath

AN INTERVIEW WITH ARCHITECTS ELADIA SMOKE AND CRAIG APPLEGATH EXPLORES HOW RECONCILIATION CAN SHAPE THE WAY WE DESIGN AND HELP ADDRESS ONGOING CRISES. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued 94 Calls to Action to build a collective future for Indigenous and nonIndigenous Canadians. Colleges and universities are now turning to designers to help formulate a response. In various ways, they’re asking architects to answer a very difficult question: how can reconciliation become a core design principle? Two-Eyed Seeing is a Mi’kmaq concept of observing the world through both an Indigenous and Western lens. When Centennial College issued a request for designs for its A-Block expansion project, DIALOG + Smoke Architecture turned to Two-Eyed Seeing as a way of approaching the project. The firms’ winning design suggests a path forward for architects in addressing reconciliation, as well as the ongoing crises of climate and inequity. Eladia Smoke, Principal at Smoke Architecture, and Craig Applegath, Principal at DIALOG, discussed these ideas with writer Thomas Hirschmann.

developed really astounding technologies, but at the same time pretend we can live without natural systems. Technology gives us ways of putting together materials and sharing knowledge, but we have this very deep memory of when we lived in a much closer relationship with animal and plant life, the cycles of the seasons, and as an integral part of the celestial and terrestrial realms. Two-Eyed Seeing remembers that wonderful place without forgetting the useful patterns technology offers us.

“We’re all Indigenous from somewhere”

Contemporary Western thought is founded in reason, logic and science. While this philosophy has helped us understand how the natural world works, at the same time, it’s placed us outside of it, resulting in some fairly obvious problems—like climate change. At the 2000 Chattanooga Sustainability Conference, a speaker discussed the Indigenous notion of Seven Generations: designing with a responsibility not just for this generation or the next, but for seven future generations. This made a real impression on me, and it was clear that this notion had to be integrated into our design thinking. For me, Two-Eyed Seeing is a way to expand our understanding of what we do as architects and engineers.

THOMAS HIRSCHMANN: What does it mean to place Two-Eyed Seeing at the heart of the design process?

“Western architecture has a very dark colonial history”

ELADIA SMOKE: Elders have said to me, “We’re all Indigenous from somewhere.” Land-based teachings originate within all our cultures. In some cultures, those teachings have been sublimated. We’ve

SMOKE: There’s an important distinction between colonial patterns of thought and Western cultures. Colonial thought is what all of us must react against, because it works against a diverse and vibrant

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OPPOSITE The Centennial College A-Block Expansion Building, designed by DIALOG with Smoke Architecture, integrates Indigenous design principles, including a main entry that faces east—the traditional location for the entry in Indigenous structures. ABOVE At the heart of the building, the Indigenous Commons provides a place for drum ceremonies and other gatherings.

human situation. It doesn’t respect other living creatures. It monetizes life without acknowledging agency or value, except as raw material. The colonial age has had severe impacts across the globe. Architecture was used explicitly as a tool to physically erase the memory of a place by overlaying an exploitative reality. Colonial projects eradicate all trace of existing vegetation, topography and cultural markers, and replace them with imported architectural precedents. Western architecture has a very dark colonial history, and this isn’t often acknowledged by Canadian architects. The sad truth is that most significant architecture in Europe’s major capital cities, from the Renaissance up to the Second World War, clearly expresses the surplus of wealth created by the exploitation of European colonies around the world.


“It’s really important that this building has a heart” It’s so important to explore reconciliation in architecture. How different would the design of the Centennial College A-Block expansion have been, had it been designed through a purely Western lens? HIRSCHMANN:

Western architecture is typically a dialectic between form and function. Yes, function now considers environmental sustainability, but for the most part, Western architectural culture isn’t very interested


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in ecology and natural systems, let alone Indigenous culture. What was so refreshing about Centennial College’s project brief was that it demand­ed that the design be rooted in an Indigenous notion of natural systems and the poetry of Indigenous culture. What’s so different about this project is that all of the key design moves were contemplated through this lens. SMOKE: It’s important that this building has a heart. Elders have told me that teachings about the heart are critical. That heart is the Indigenous Commons, a dome-shaped space designed on the principles of the Nimii’Idiwigamig | Anishinaabe Roundhouse—a place for drum ceremonies. The drum signifies a realignment with the natural rhythms of the rest of the world. When you hear that drum, you feel it, and it brings about a realignment of our heartbeat with that of Shkagamikwe | Mother Earth: all the other life that supports us. It symbolizes a reality where human actions and our built environments are regenerative, not exploitative.

The “rational,” Western lens would’ve had us place the entrance at the major road intersection—at the north-west corner of the building. Instead, we placed the main entrance to the east, the traditional location for the entrance in Indigenous structures. APPLEGATH:

Yes, the east entry is significant because it’s the direction of the sunrise or new beginnings. It also shaped a narrative of seed, growth, culmination and balance, where we remember our responsibilities to each other and to the territories we share.


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The building’s courtyard is designed for use as an outdoor classroom and for cooking traditional foods. The paving is imprinted with patterns marking the noontime shadow lines for each of the year’s full moons. ABOVE RIGHT Architects Craig Applegath and Eladia Smoke perform a smudging ceremony, a ritual intended to purify the mind, body and spirit. ABOVE LEFT

“This building has forgotten none of its stories” HIRSCHMANN: Narrative seems to be an important element of this building; the grand stair is lined with Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee stories. How did story shape the design?

Many contemporary buildings don’t have a lot of life because they’re so rational. They’ve forgotten their stories. This building has forgotten none of its stories; instead we keep remembering new ones. For instance, the interior courtyard is a gathering place that students will use as a classroom and to cook traditional foods. We noticed where the noontime shadows fall for each of the full moons; each has its own name that recalls our activities and what’s happening out in the land that month. Those shadow lines are imprinted into the paving patterns, to connect people with the space, and to connect the space with a larger understanding of our place in the world.


The idea of an Indigenous narrative was important for our team to explore in tandem with ecological narratives. Improving the wellbeing of our environment is central to our mission. It is one of the important lessons I will take away from this project. The grand stair within Wisdom Hall, with its sustainably harvested mass timber structure, tells a wonderful story of natural carbon sequestration. Another example is the way the building’s landscape was designed as an ecological extension of the river valley to the south of it, with local Indigenous plant and tree species.


“Go look at a fish” HIRSCHMANN: What other examples can you share of how Two-Eyed Seeing shaped the A-Block design?

One of our inspirations is the Midewigan | teaching lodge, an open framework made of fast-growing, renewable saplings. The saplings grow tall and straight under the forest canopy because they reach SMOKE:

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for the sun. Harvesting from the understory has less impact on the forest because it’s not old growth. You bend the saplings to create arches and increase their strength. The mass timber in the building uses a similar approach: fast-growing, renewable wood is laminated to become stronger; it’s a more technological take on this age-old principle of using small-scale, quick-growth wood. APPLEGATH: The way Anishinaabe Wigwams were designed with their skin pulled up in the summer for air circulation inspired the idea for the building envelope at the corner of the building. We asked, “What kind of building skin could blend the technical-contemporary and Indigenous natural worlds together?” So we designed an aluminum panel that’s shaped like fish scales. It’s detailed with contemporary parametric software, which makes it feel like animal skin. Go look at a fish, and see how the scales shift and change over its body. That’s the effect of the building cladding. There’s something alive about it and people ask, “What did you do with that façade? It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“Pick up the things we’ve forgotten along the way” HIRSCHMANN: Architects are re-examining how their work can help solve ongoing crises like climate change and inequity. How can TwoEyed Seeing guide them?

There’s an Anishinaabe story called the Seven Fires Prophecy. Humans will find ourselves in a place where we have a choice. Some paths result in catastrophe for us. Another path retraces our steps to pick up things we’ve forgotten along the way. Hopefully the path we’re following allows us to pick up the things that we forgot, to rediscover a way of being that’s much more survivable, and to light the Eighth Fire of the prophecy.


Clearly, we’re now living that prophecy. With greenhouse gas concentrations at catastrophically high levels, we don’t have much time left to change our path and “pick up the things we’ve forgotten along the way.” We need to act now.


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Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning By Daniel A. Barber (Princeton University Press, 2020) REVIEW

Javier Zeller

It’s been more than 50 years since English architecture critic Reyner Banham wrote his ground-breaking The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, the first comprehensive history of the integration of mechanical and electrical systems into architecture. Lamenting the “sheer paucity and poverty of academic discourse on the topic,” Banham set out to demolish the academic prejudices that had excluded these systems from serious consideration as integral to understanding the architecture of modernity. In many respects, University of Pennsylvania Architecture professor Daniel A. Barber’s expansive Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning surpasses Banham’s considerable ambitions. Barber achieves this not just by his meticulous historical scholarship, but also in the way the book lays bare the principles that underpin our energy- and carbon-intensive built environment. Modern Architecture and Climate is a fresh and original history that chronicles the intense research undertaken by designers to adapt modernist architecture to various climate conditions, as modernism’s political and aesthetic influence reached across the globe. Barber’s history

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of the period stretching from the mid-1930s to the 1960s—preceding the widespread adoption of mechanical air conditioning and sealed curtain-wall buildings—is also a glimpse of what might have been. The book showcases a climate-adapted architecture free from reliance on fossil fuels or other energy, particularly to address cooling loads. The book divides neatly into two parts. Its first half comprises three histories of formal explorations made to keep buildings cool, beginning with Le Corbusier, moving to the work of modernist architects in Brazil, and concluding with American architects working outside of the continental United States. The book’s second half chronicles the impressive efforts to harness the increasing scientific understanding of weather and climate into a reliable means of maintaining a livable interior. It describes the pioneering work of the Olgyay brothers, who coined the term “bioclimatic architecture.” As in every great book, there is an antagonist: in this case, it’s ASHRAE , whose uniform definition of comfort paved the way for mechanical ventilation to overwhelm the more subtle and variable solutions developed before air conditioning. Barber’s originality is apparent in the whole new cast of characters— almost entirely missing from existing histories of modernism—that emerges in this book. This is especially remarkable considering that the historical period the book covers is so often chronicled that it appeared to have been picked clean. Even his chapter on Le Corbusier focuses on an obscure 1931 Barcelona proposal, the locus for a series of climate-adapted innovations.

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OPPOSITE The Associação Brasileira de Imprensa (ABI) in Rio de Janeiro was designed by Marcelo and Milton Roberto in 1936. ABOVE LEFT Victor and Aladar Olgyay’s Thermoheliodon at the Princeton Architectural Laboratory was presented in a 1956 issue of Colliers magazine. ABOVE RIGHT In an Architectural Forum article from 1947, Helmut Landsberg discusses how microclimates affect site selection. LEFT Diagrams by the Olgyay brothers describe man’s interaction with his environment, and the interlocking fields of climate balance.

These included an internal courtyard to draw hot air up and away through the building’s section, and a rudimentary brise soleil—elements that would continue to be repeated and refined in Le Corbusier’s later work. Similarly, the chapter focusing on Brazil includes not only modernist superstars like Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, but also the Roberto brothers—architects of some of the most truly innovative climate-adapted buildings of the 1930s. Their built projects may not have preceded Le Corbusier’s concept of the brise soleil, but they certainly surpass it in sophistication and adjustability. Each of these examples is well illustrated with beautifully selected drawings and archival photos. A notable example, from Barber’s chapter on American architectural work around the world, is the set of drawings and photos of Josep Lluis Sert’s project for the embassy and diplomatic compound in Baghdad. Sert’s work here manages to elide the bombastic projection of American diplomatic and scientific prowess, to instead create an original and specific response to climate and culture. The book’s second half is just as rewarding. Barber’s chapter on the Olgyay brothers is an especially noteworthy piece of scholarship. These two Hungarian-born architects led a Princeton research lab that set benchmarks for measuring the effects of climate on building form, undertook ground-breaking experiments, and promoted architectural design as a means of tempering climate. The fact that they are largely unknown is a ref lection of the difficulty (until very recently) of translating complex ideas, like those around climate

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science, into instruments that the profession could understand and reliably deploy. In the background of all these histories is an effort, largely led through engineering bodies that amalgamated as ASHRAE , to establish a set of uniform and universal standards for interior temperature and humidity: an ideal interior climate. It’s depressingly unsurprising that the assumptions which underpin the development of this ideal climate were shot through with racism and a paternalistic legacy of colonialism. In the decade following the Second World War, the triumph of the fossil fuel economy of the United States and Europe swept aside most climate-sensitive architectural investigations as mechanical air conditioning systems supplanted these earlier, more responsive, efforts to address cooling. Like a motor on a sailboat, the new technology of air conditioning allowed architects to abandon the intensive knowledge of site and local conditions that formed the basis for climate-responsive architecture. Barber’s work is a welcome addition to the history of architectural modernism, and is particularly pertinent in our current circumstances. It demonstrates the profound impact that our expectations of a uniform interior have had on the planet we share. But its examples also offer an inspiring model for challenging assumptions about the role of building form in mitigating climate extremes. Javier Zeller is an architect working in Toronto with Diamond Schmitt Architects.

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Over the last decade, Tall Wood buildings have been at the forefront of innovative building practice in urban contexts. In many cities around the globe, these timber high-rises have emerged as a new urban element. Structures of up to 18 storeys have been built or are under construction while others of up to 40 storeys are being considered. This dynamic shift has been enabled by the emergence of new engineered wood products, prefabrication and more flexibility in fire regulations. The low CO2 footprint of wood – often regionally sourced – make it a responsible choice for today’s buildings. This publication provides a systematic introduction to the technology and explains typical Tall Wood constructions such as panel systems, frame and hybrid systems. An international selection of 13 best-practice case studies is documented in detail with many specially prepared construction drawings, demonstrating the range of the technology. Both authors are experienced specialists for timber construction: Michael Green, MGA | Michael Green Architecture, Director of DBR | Design Build Research Institute, Vancouver, is a researcher and practitioner in the field of timber structures. His 2013 TED talk made a large audience aware of Tall Wood buildings. Jim Taggart, Vancouver, is an architect, publicist and editor of Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine. He teaches at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.









Canadian CLT Handbook, 2019 Edition Edited by Erol Karacebeyli and Sylvain Gagnon. (FPInnovations, 2019)

Tall Wood Buildings: Design, Construction and Performance By Michael Green and Jim Taggart (Birkhauser, 2020)

The advantages to building with mass timber are clear: compared to steel or concrete, wood is a renewable resource with the potential to sequester carbon. This makes it a construction material of increasing import in the era of anthropogenic climate crisis. Two recent Canadian publications help equip architects and engineers in using mass timber. The Canadian CLT Handbook, published by forest products research organization FPInnovations, is a two-volume reference manual compiling technical information on cross-laminated timber. (A parallel US edition is also available.) Tall Wood Buildings, by Vancouver-based architect Michael Green and educator Jim Taggart, focuses on the potential for mass timber’s use in mid-rise and high-rise buildings in urban centres. “Tall Wood buildings represent the most practical, effective and environmentally responsible solution to the global housing shortage,” write Green and Taggart. The CLT Handbook is edited by engineers Erol Karacebeyli and Sylvain Gagnon, and clocks in at 812 pages. Its peer-reviewed content delves deep into the construction and performance characteristics of crosslaminated timber, from manufacturing to structural and lateral design. Chapters

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are dedicated to particular aspects of CLT buildings and assemblies, including vibration performance, acoustic performance, and the lifting and handling of CLT elements. The comprehensiveness of this tome makes it, as the editors write, a “vital ‘how-to’ [of] information on CLT for the design and construction community, and [a] source of information for regulatory authorities, fire services and others.” While a technical manual does not generally make for riveting reading, the material characteristics of CLT are key to understanding its performance. The material’s lay-up pattern, for instance, means that using wood species prone to shrinkage and swelling may produce unsightly gaps. A chapter on environmental performance dives into the particulars of life cycle assessment, and points to research limitations in current analyses. For instance, what additional carbon benefits or harm would result from not harvesting a forest for use in construction? The forest may continue to grow, but would also be subject to natural disturbances such as fires—a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the most important changes from the 2011 version of the CLT Handbook is an updated chapter on fire performance. The new edition accounts for the extensive research that has taken place in the past decade, with results showing “that CLT elements, with or without gypsum board protection, can achieve significant fire resistance, beyond three hours in some cases.” As architects working with tall CLT buildings in Canada can attest, the process of reconciling CLT construction with existing building regulations can be onerous. A proposal has been made to include en-

capsulated mass timber as a new type of construction in the 2020 National Building Code of Canada—provisions that have already been adopted in British Columbia. If accepted, the authors note, CLT would then fall into the prescriptive framework of the code, and “this will facilitate the use of CLT elements in residential and commercial buildings up to 12 storeys.” In the CLT Handbook, “design” is used most often to refer to engineering considerations, rather than aesthetic results. Accordingly, a good part of the two-volume set is filled with formulae and data tables that will be of principal interest to engineers. No matter: the Handbook is free to download, and well worth having on hand. A more approachable primer is Tall Wood Buildings. This book opens with a well-illustrated run-down of the principles of building with mass timber products such as CLT, glulam, laminated veneer lumber, and dowellaminated timber. The thoughtful assessment runs almost in parallel to the structure of the CLT Handbook—starting with the properties of wood, and building up to the factors affecting structural systems, building performance, and construction considerations. The book then turns its focus to a series of 18 case studies (augmented from 13 in an earlier edition). They are helpfully grouped into different types of mass timber structures. Panel systems use regularly spaced, solid wall panels to carry loads, and are wellsuited for housing. Frame systems carry vertical loads through interconnected sets of beams and columns, and are used for programs requiring larger interior spaces. Finally, hybrid systems use different material and structural solutions in combination,

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for a variety of architectural, structural, environmental or economic reasons. Each case study is illustrated with diagrams, details and photos, often showing both the under-construction and completed buildings. Shigeru Ban’s Tamedia Head Office, for instance, includes an assembly sequence for the all-wood post-and-beam structure, a design inspired by traditional Japanese joinery. Oval (rather than circular) holes are used at the joints, ensuring that tie-beams cannot rotate, thus allowing them to absorb lateral forces. Three Canadian examples also figure among the case studies—Perkins and Will’s Earth Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia, Acton Ostry Architects’ Brock Commons Tallwood House on the same campus, and MGA | Michael Green Architecture’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, British Columbia. Such buildings have set precedents in the North American building context, laying the ground for further development of mass timber buildings. As the CLT Handbook details, 37 percent of the world’s certified sustainably managed forests are in Canada; within Canada, 49 percent of forests are independantly certified. The potential for Canada to become a mass timber leader is tantalizing. In the preface to Tall Wood Buildings, UK architect Andrew Waugh writes: “re-learning how to build in timber—and how to build tall with the new engineered timbers that the 21st century technologies allow—will be fundamental to our future.” This pair of books are invaluable to architects and students taking on that task. -Elsa Lam

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Adaptation By Omar Gandhi, Jimenez Lai and John Leroux (Mexico City: Arquine, 2020)

“There is a mythology about the first ten years of young architects in North America,” writes Jimenez Lai in this publication marking the first decade of Omar Gandhi’s Halifax- and Toronto-based firm. This mythology includes a “high-octane, full-speed pursuit of some notion of ‘Project’—filled with teaching, writing […] and various forms of research and experimentation, but not necessarily building buildings.” In contrast, for Gandhi, “building buildings” defines his practice. John Leroux sees the resulting work as encompassing the “complexities of an uber-Canadian cultural pluralism, where the diversity of his Toronto background dovetails with the traditions and physical vigor of Maritime coastal building traditions.” When Gandhi found himself out of a job early on in his career, he began to dream about what he wanted to become. Taking on deck and renovation jobs, he eventually arrived at his “beginning,” that pivotal moment when an architect earns the first real client. For Gandhi, it was renovating a home for the new town doctors in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Then came Shantih, a low-slung cottage in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia. After completing his third project, “running entirely on intuition,” he confesses that “I was able to clearly define what would become my way of working, my process. I called it Adaptation.” Born in Toronto, Gandhi recounts his parents’ arrival to Canada from India, how he came to study architecture at Dalhousie University, his first real job out of school and his experiences working with KPMB Architects



and Brian MacKay-Lyons. There is also the moment when he took on Jeff Shaw, his very first employee. The two of them played Drake’s Take Care album on repeat for a whole year, and eventually produced over a dozen projects together. The acknowledgments and credits at the end of the book show appreciation to those who have helped him along the way: employers and teachers, builders, mentors, classmates and family. Gandhi describes his team as “both the prize and a reflection of a building practice that I would have fantasized about creating when I was just out of school and in my first jobs.” For students and young architects, Adaptation is an inspiration to find and affirm one’s inner architectural calling. -Ian Chodikoff

Manual of Physical Distancing Principal investigators Paul Lewis, Guy Nordenson, David J. Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki. Updated August 2020,

Over the summer, a team from LTL Architects led the production of this impressive 211-page digital publication that illustrates the spatial dynamics of COVID-19. It’s a visual atlas of sorts, that starts from the basics of how the disease spreads—those familiar drawings of droplet plumes—and floor plans of documented superspreader events. Design expertise comes to the fore in comprehensive case studies of how classrooms, offices, and urban spaces can be adapted to ensure distancing. The volume concludes with a fascinating visual history of pandemics, including perspective drawings of the quarantine buildings on the Venetian Lagoon. -Elsa Lam

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114 4 Deer







Alexandra Pereira-Edwards, Misca Birklein-Lagassé and Zaven Titizian


When a Google Street View team was invited to Nunavut, Canada, in 2012, their first stop was Iqaluktuuttiaq ( , Cambridge Bay). While those visiting the remote hamlet surveyed it using a Google Trike, members of the community were trained to use Google’s camera equipment and learned how to add roads to the online map. Capturing these images was an opportunity for Nunavummiut to present their community to the rest of the world. One of the indoor spaces that got a 360degree treatment was the Cambridge Bay pool, with its brightly painted plywood walls and laminated signage describing rules for pool use, admissions requirements, and notes on ice safety—reminders aimed at lowering the high drowning rates in the Territory. While the pool remains virtually open for view, its recreational function in the community halted in July of 2019 when the hamlet closed the facility early in its already short season. The 30-year-old building was deemed structurally unsafe as a result of thawing permafrost, a reminder of the amplified

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effects of global warming in the community. Its deck was slumping, its metal was corroding, and the supports under its liner were weakening, threatening to suck swimmers under the building should the liner burst. The pool’s closure meant that the largely youthful users who would typically spend days playing and learning how to swim in the shallow, warm indoor waters no longer had the space to do so. And while the option to swim in Nunavut’s frigid natural waters does exist, many communities do not have designated spaces for submersion. Similar structural problems expose a material fragility that impacts Nunavut’s built environment, leaving in their wake social and financial burdens for Northern communities. But the pools in Nunuvut also point to a deeper line of inquiry, one that questions Southern ideals of leisure and recreation enabled by these facilities. What biases are ascribed when Arctic water safety is taught within the confines of a pool? And where does Inuit knowledge locate itself inside aquatic facilities when it has been consistently resisted by a standardized swimming education?

ABOVE A view of the pool in Iqaluktuutiaq (Cambridge Bay), Nunavut, as captured by community members for Google Maps. The pool was closed in 2019.

Cambridge Bay’s defunct pool, and others like it, serve as potent if contentious spaces to discuss layered histories, including ongoing settler colonial practices that continue to shape the Canadian Arctic. By looking below the surface of the pool as a typology, discussions come into focus that unsettle the deep-rooted complicity of built form within Canada’s settler colonial narrative—and ultimately ask for retrospection and revision in how architectural research, scholarship, and practices are pursued. Alexandra Pereira-Edwards, Misca Birklein-Lagassé, and Zaven Titizian were part of the 2020 Master’s Students Program at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), the first in a three-year thematic series entitled “In the Postcolony.” The research was guided by Rafico Ruiz, Associate Director of Research at the CCA, and in virtual conversation with Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts and guests. Their research developed into an open-access syllabus that questions settler colonial perspectives and research practices across design disciplines. The syllabus will be launched on the CCA’s website on November 23.

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114 4 E. Newpor t Center Dr. Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

Designer: S.Bonofiglio Email: Date: SSe September eptember 11 111, 1, 20 22020 0 2 0 11 111:00 1:0 0 AM AM

Bleed: Yes Amount: .125" Colors: CMYK Process, 4/0

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