What can an institution like the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) do, for architecture and for the world at large? The Museum is Not Enough offers a not unexpected answer. While the CCA certainly does what museums do—collecting architectural archives, producing exhibitions, running a research center—the scope of its ambition mirrors the vastness of contemporary dilemmas. Museums are institutions with social agency, but their power is dwarfed by the issues they are tempted to tackle. The CCA’s location in Montreal highlights this ambivalence: it is central by disciplinary measures but geographically and politically peripheral. This situation has inculcated a strong avant-garde spirit at the CCA. To pick a few examples of current topics, the CCA has made a film on homelessness (What It Takes to Make a Home), exhibitions on happiness and the medicalization of architecture (Our Happy Life and Imperfect Health), and an illustrated book on fossil fuel (Goodbye, Oil) that is part of a sweeping “counter-history of the modern Canadian environment.” Seemingly no big issue is left untouched, and every discursive genre is conscripted for the fight. The Museum is Not Enough muses through the many roles of contemporary architectural institutions in a series of nine open-ended manifestos. Its timing is calculated, arriving just as the CCA's director of the past 15 years, Mirko Zardini, has stepped down and Giovanna Borasi has been promoted to take his place. The book was a group effort (Borasi and Zardini are joined by Albert Ferré, Francesco Garutti, Jayne Kelley as editors), though it is written in the first person. It feels like listening in on an ongoing internal conversation among a close-knit team: “I try to act as a frame for making sense of, anticipating, and projecting on the world. I do this by focusing on architecture.” The quick but thoughtful writing draws out the complexities and contradictions of its subject matter. To say it is not complacent about the role of the CCA would be an understatement. The dialogue often tips into a hyper-self-awareness that recalls David Foster Wallace: “I'm not sure to what degree we should protect (fetishize?) the experience of being in the archives, of uncovering something seemingly tangential or trivial that unlocks a new idea... Maybe we've become a little too obsessed with this. I know I'm also responsible.” Emerging from this self-questioning are gems of clarity. A series of interviews stand out in this regard. Kalle Lasn, the founder and editor-in-chief of Adbusters, says easily that “architects are living in their own bubble” and distills simple advice: "follow the money, always, and maintain a healthy allergy to cant... It's about who benefits, where, how, and why.” A lively conversation between Kieran Long and Mark Wigley also catches the eye for its comparison of archives to graveyards—“that's where the action is.” The book coheres as a multi-genre, multidisciplinary provocation for architects to be both more critical and more open to discovering vitality in unexpected places. This attitude was imparted on the CCA by its founder, Phyllis Lambert—“we try to make people think”—and it is echoed on the last page of book in a quote from Gordon Matta-Clark: “Here is what we have to offer you... confusion guided by a clear sense of purpose.” The purpose here does not focus on buildings or representations. Sometimes it is presented with a dash of mysticism: the chapter on exhibitions starts by noting that "architecture is a way of reading and redefining the present, the society in which we're living and working.” For all its questioning, however, The Museum is Not Enough offers a reassuring sense that architecture is a field that takes in all things. Pictures of architecture abound, but they don't dominate. The freeform but careful graphic design (by Studio Jonathan Hares) works primarily through juxtaposition, generating connections between disparate words and things: Archival photographs, floorplans, scribbled questionnaires, screenshots of the CCA's website, book covers, furtive snapshots taken through security doors. What emerges is a sense of the hidden order of the material world and the agency of design over everything from scrap of paper to vast landscapes. There is an inescapable sense that a vague institutional or disciplinary “center” is somehow at work to organize these operations. Architecture is in charge. The book's concluding chapter helpfully asks “what else might be enough?” The answer is somehow both specific and vaguely allegorical: to “really think differently” we need to “inhabit another persona” or “become a strange animal.” Before planning we may need to forget. A series of events at the CCA called Come and Forget led audiences on “fruitful acts of mass amnesia.” This invitation to clear the slate is followed by a conceptual art piece in the form of a series of fictive grant applications for possible institutions, modeled after a proposal by Gordon Matta-Clark. This is all certainly food for thought. One senses affinity with the loose movement in art known as Relational Aesthetics. Maybe the gallery is not a place for hanging paintings but rather for conversation and enjoying a meal? The chief curator has, after all, been hosting a series of events called Curatorial Loaf, which do just that. What may be enough, then, is something very much in the spirit of Montreal: encouraging lives to be well-lived. The Museum is Not Enough will appeal to architects and curators for its ability to transport readers into the backstage conversations at an institution not afraid to interrogate itself and its major subject. It is clear by the end that architects very often work like curators even if they like to imagine themselves producing iconic works of art. They set the stage for things to happen. And they face the same challenge as curators: museums have a history as rarified citadels of cultural value, separate from the messy life of society around them. The Museum is Not Enough shows that it doesn't have to be this way. Intelligence and beauty emerge also from the mundane.
Posts tagged with "Montreal":
Young Montreal-based practice Studio Kiff (led by Hélène Thiffault and Rachel Bussin) defines its aesthetic as nonconformist and responsive. Pulling references from a wide variety of sources, such as 1990s normcore and 1970s radical design, the AN Interior 2019 Emerging Designer studio approaches each new project with a tabula rasa mindset that balances decorative and practical elements. Deeply embedded in the Canadian city’s burgeoning creative scene, Studio Kiff’s clients are fellow entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in a saturated fashion and design world. Young skateboard and fashion accessories brand Dime is no different. The popular streetwear label called on Studio Kiff to outfit its first brick-and-mortar space. The compact store, which is Bussin and Thiffault’s second interior design project, centers around a stepped, granite podium. This “altar” is adorned with shoe-ware, ceremonial vases, and a personalized bowling ball—items that reference the brand’s meteoric rise. An intentionally kitsch painting of an erupting volcano hangs above this mise-en-scène. Read the full preview on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
The second lives of observation towers built for the Olympics run the gamut from rock ‘n’ roll museums to rappelling venues to rather straightforward radio and television transmitters. Yet Montreal’s Olympic Tower, perhaps the most famous of these soaring edifices even though it wasn't finally completed until a full decade after the 1976 Summer Olympics, hasn’t really had a productive afterlife—until now. Thanks to Quebecois financial services giant Desjardins, a new purpose has at long last been bestowed on the precast-concrete landmark that looms precariously over Parc Olympique. Working closely with Desjardins, the multidisciplinary Montreal-based Provencher_Roy painstakingly converted seven of the tower’s 12 unoccupied floors into new office space that will serve as call and administrative centers for the bank over the next 15 years. In total, the renovation, which kicked off in 2018, encompasses 150,000 square feet, roughly 80 percent of the tower’s rentable space. It includes an auditorium, a trio of lounges, a 400-seat dining room, a wellness center, 25 “collaborative living rooms,” a half-dozen coffee bars, and enough open workspace to accommodate 1,400 employees. The top of the tallest inclined tower in the world, at 541 feet, has long been home to a popular observatory that’s accessible to the public via a glass-encased funicular; however, the rest of the interior space within the tilting, Roger Taillibert-designed structure has remained mostly empty. Desjardins is now the first (and only) major tenant to occupy it in over 30 years. That’s big news when considering that the stadium complex at Parc Olympique—tower included—is regarded by many as a particularly egregious white elephant despite its architectural significance. Often referred to as the “Big O” (or more commonly among locals as the “Big Owe” in reference to its exorbitant cost of over $1.1 billion), Montreal’s doughnut-shaped Olympic Stadium is the largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity with room for 56,000 patrons but has experienced woefully little post-Olympics activity. Lacking a full-time tenant since the Expos decamped in 2004, the venue has been plagued by a long list of structural issues and costly setbacks. While most criticism has been lobbed at the roof-cursed coliseum, the fact that its adjacent tower has sat unoccupied since 1987 has only soured the view of this somewhat damaging Olympics leftover. The renovation of the Olympic Tower, recently rechristened as the Montreal Tower, is a major step in a positive new direction. The most significant aspect of the overhaul involved removing a bulk of the tower’s prefabricated concrete panels and been replacing them with an all-glass curtain wall that encases 60 percent of the building’s facade. Per a press release, this dramatic undertaking was the single “biggest challenge” in transforming the “mythical” structure, and was essential in “creating a pleasant work environment.” Antiquated mechanical systems were also replaced and brought up to code as part of the renovation. Throughout the process, Provencher_Roy was mindful not to erase the tower’s important place in Montreal history. Tributes to the building's Olympic legacy are distributed throughout the light-strewn interior, most in the form of sporty murals. “It was a privilege to work on such an exceptional site that represents so much in the collective imagination,” said Julien-Pierre Laurendeau, an interior designer at Provencher_Roy. “Our design strategy has been to showcase the spectacular architectural character of the Montreal Tower, still imbued with the Olympic spirit. Interior design encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge in a healthy environment, as well as drawing a parallel with the values of Desjardins.” Montreal’s Olympic Stadium will likely never live down its reputation as one of North America’s most notorious white elephants. But the tower that bends directly over it can now bask in its newfound status as an example of smart, site-sensitive reinvention and reuse.
Accoladed Montreal firm Chevalier Morales Architectes recently completed the Drummondville Public library. Set on a strategically central site in the historic Québécois market town, the new curtain wall structure serves as much more than just a standard bibliothèque. The "well rounded" building operates as a sorely needed connector that bridges a formerly isolated civic complex to Drummonville's commercial core. Making use of as much space as possible on an awkwardly-shaped plot, the project's mass snakes in different directions but ultimately finds its grounding tucked in between various preexisting infrastructures, a power-line to the east and a skating rink to the west. The two-story building's curvilinear envelope carries through into its interior where convex and concave architectural elements help foster a program of unencumbered and layered movement. The structure not only houses the city's main library but also its historic society, arts and culture, and immigration departments. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Programmed as a dynamic matrix of distinctly-designed lounges, bars, rooftop terraces, and washrooms, the third floor Social Square level at the new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal was conceived as to better facilitate communal ergonomics; the fluid interactions between hotel guests and locals who stop by for dinner or drinks. Set at the base of a new Lemay and Sid Lee Architecture-designed building, located along the ever-trendy Golden Square Mile, this public floor was designed by local hotshot firm Atelier Zébulon Perron to evoke circadian rhythms. While it can be inferred that this theme is a play on the hotel's name, it can also be understood as a reference to the northern city's dark, cold winter months. Certain spaces employ sky gradients and light wood tambour paneling to express daytime, and others use a dark, rich, and moody palette of materials to suggest the evening or night. Marble, terrazzo, brass, prismatic glass, white oak, and velvet help make up this dramatic mise-en-scene. At the core of the Social Square is the MARCUS restaurant, developed with Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, whose proclivity for seafood carries through the entire project. An encased king crab greats guests as they exit a gold-leaf-clad elevator bay. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
More than 50 years after Montreal's Expo 67 World’s Fair, Parc Jean-Drapeau, has received a full renovation by the transdisciplinary design firm Lemay. The vast redevelopment project, titled Espace 67, involved the enhancement of a natural amphitheater and redevelopment of the central concourse that links the island’s Biosphere to Alexander Calder’s Trois Disques sculpture. The project began in 2017 and the revitalization of the site is, in part, a celebration of the City of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. “Lemay’s concept blends the enchanting natural setting and rich historic past of this exceptional site, to offer a truly versatile space,” said Andrew King, partner and design principal at Lemay in a press release, “It has been reborn as a destination unto itself, now able to fully accommodate a wide range of major events.” Building on the 662-acre site’s history, Lemay aimed to recreate the “festive, unifying spirit” of Expo 67, which is remembered as a landmark in Canadian history for its social, cultural, and technological advancements. With a record-breaking number of visitors, it was the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century. The design approach is rooted in adaptive reuse but creates enhanced services, event spaces, and wayfinding through a holistic design strategy. Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s neighboring geodesic dome, the central pathway has been shaped by inclined planes paved with a geometric pattern. The slight incline (and to many resident’s dismay, the removal of hundreds of trees) maximizes views of Calder’s sculpture as well as the surrounding context of the St. Lawrence River and Old Montreal. Service pavilions have been added near the site’s entrance with materials that echo the architectural language of the Expo and follow the same geometric design incorporated throughout the rest of the park. The pavilions themselves were also designed with wayfinding and crowd management in mind, and their metallic surfaces and lighting design making them prominent markers throughout the visitor’s journey in the park. The massive renovation spans 1,502,286 square feet, with the amphitheater alone accounting for 615,265 square feet of that. While the theater can seat up to 65,000 people at any given time, it was designed with flexibility in mind; the stage can be adjusted and the floor shortened to create intimacy for smaller events. While some are excited about the prospect of holding larger-scale events and festivals on the former fairgrounds, others are disappointed in the redesign. Retired professor and historian, Roger La Roche, told Citylab that, “The main objective of Expo 67’s planners was to make the site completely human-sized. Even if there were people everywhere, you could still feel isolated, in your own little bubble,” he explained, reminiscing on the days of his youth when he worked as a cook at the fair. The architects insist that the removal of trees for the creation of more open space was due to the disrepair that the entire park, including the landscaping, was in. However, not all is lost for the city’s nature lovers. Société du parc Jean-Drapeau has recently joined forces with the City of Montreal on a naturalization project for the south bank of the nearby Olympic Basin on Île Notre-Dame, in which more than 135 trees and 300 shrubs have already been planted. Done in conjunction with the urban forest action plan, the objective is to plant 300,000 trees by 2025, increasing the city’s canopy index by five percent.
Detroit has always been a design-forward city, a fact made official back in 2015 when they were designated a UNESCO City of Design, the only in the United States. A center of architectural innovation, futuristic automotive design, boulevards meant to rival the Champs-Élysées, and one of the U.S.’s foremost collections of art, the city in recent years has gotten more attention for its bankruptcy, corruption, and mass foreclosures and vacancy. But, as Olga Stella, executive director of Design Core Detroit, a partner organization which “champions design-driven businesses and their role in strengthening Detroit’s economy,” points out, “Detroit is not and never has been just one thing.” Throughout its expansive 139 square miles, many are working to create neighborhoods and a city that works for them. Design doesn’t just happen at the rarefied scale of a Beaux Arts museum, it happens in and by communities who work to create a city they want to live in. These projects are being celebrated at the second iteration of Detroit Design 139 (DD139), a serial exhibition co-organized by the City of Detroit, Design Core Detroit, and developer Bedrock. Members from each organization, as well as nine others, served on the advisory board. The projects were selected by a jury of design notables, both from Detroit and other cities, including New York City Public Design Commission executive director Justin Garrett Moore and Detroit-based equitable development strategist Lauren Hood. With the main showcase at street level in downtown Detroit in a Bedrock-owned building, as well as at three partner locations throughout the city, celebrates 70 projects under five thematic headings that, according to the organizers and jurors, embody DD139’s 2019 theme of "Inclusive Futures". “All of us working on design problems and projects should be holding ourselves to higher standards,” said Melissa Dittmer, Bedrock’s chief design officer, of the ethos of inclusion ostensibly showcased in the exhibition, which features projects built in the last two years or to be built in the next three. The projects were laid out rather blandly like a well-executed science fair or a real-life PDF, with posters along temporary slatted walls and the occasional model or video. Stella said that, historically, “In a city that doesn’t have a lot of capital [the question of] ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ was guiding decisions, not design solutions,” noting that it was a developer-driven process, with Maurice Cox, Detroit’s outgoing planning and development director. (Cox was also on the advisory committee of DD139.) Dittmer says there was a need for new building to begin “prioritizing the process as much as the outcomes,” something many of the projects exhibited; for example a cafe-laundromat combo, The Commons, designed by the local firm LAAVU in a process which founder and chief design officer Kaija E. Wuollet explains, began by collectively creating a strategic plan to inform the design, building, and operations. The choice in amenities was guided by neighbor requests and they act as not only a space in their own right, but a revenue stream for the non-profit MACC Development, which provides literacy programs, coworking space, artistic opportunities, and other community resources right within the building. This was a recurring theme: neighborhood-focused and neighborhood-led design solutions are a strength of Detroit now and could be what shapes the city's future. But, another recurring theme that the MACC project implies is that due to a dearth of government support, many private organizations have had to pick up the slack. That said, some public programs were featured in the exhibition, perhaps among the most noteworthy for designers, the Michigan ArcPrep program, a public school architecture initiative led by the University of Michigan's Taubman College. Even restaurants were in the exhibition. In community engagement workshops, residents in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood expressed a desire for more places to eat and more Black-owned businesses. With the help of a Motor City Match grant, Norma G’s was opened by Lester Gouvia. Kaitlynn Hill, one of the project’s architects from Hamilton Anderson Associates, said she saw this as “a community-based project,” as much as a commercial enterprise. Other Detroit mainstays made the cut for the exhibition. The legendary Pewabic Pottery, whose distinctive glazed tiles that adorn high-rise facades and fireplaces alike are still made in small batches in Detroit, had recently undergone an expansion with the help of inFORM Studio. While the expansion added more workspace, it also helped Pewabic—which is organized as a non-profit—further advance their public mission. Like the original 1903 structure, this new building is close to the residential street. In addition to a shop, museum, and classroom space, there is also an open courtyard with a large mural that hosts events or allows passersby to come in and chill for a bit. In addition, Pewabic goes into communities with portable kilns, keeping design heritage alive and inviting others to participate in it. Many cultural projects were featured, including a skatepark-slash-sculpture park and public mural initiatives. One particularly intriguing project highlighted was the Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit 67, which investigated the legacy of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion in a “community engagement” project by collecting oral histories, producing an exhibition, and providing grants to “placemaking” projects. Some of the projects include an LGBT-focused community garden, an outdoor theater space focused on the Black, Latinx, and Arab communities of Detroit, and a memorial to those who lost their lives around the time of the uprising. There were a number of environmentally-focused projects, both grassroots and large scale, a balance and comparison that was interesting to see. Some included academic research on stormwater management interventions, the Zero Net Energy Center, rain gardens, and an upcycled windmill. Projects with international design pedigree also appeared: David Adjaye and New York’s Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates have designed a pavilion and other structures for the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park, which, when it’s open, will be part of a network of riverside parks and greenways in an area that was once home to abandoned manufacturing plants. The park is currently overseen by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. However, on a tour through the Dequindre Cut, a rail-trail connected to the riverfront, on a Sunday when it was clearly being enjoyed by many, it was mentioned by an employee of the Conservancy that many houseless people formerly lived on the trail. In fact, this was mentioned many places, but inquiries made into where those people went and whether these “inclusive” projects accounted for housing access for those they were displacing remained mostly unanswered. While houselessness is declining in Detroit and new projects like the short-term housing Pope Francis Center (not exhibited) are on their way to reality, police have also been known to sweep away the belongings of the houseless, even in the dead of winter. If this park is for everyone, what about those who called it home? In this second iteration of DD139, the choice was made to include projects from other UNESCO Cities of Design, like Saint-Étienne, France, and Montreal, which are using design to address many of the same challenges faced in Detroit. The organizers hope that this can help create a dialogue and show the fact that Detroit, though a unique situation, is not alone, and that everything from new elder caregiving studies in Singapore to canal projects in Mexico City could help Detroit think through its own unique challenges. However, how every project fit in seemed unclear. A project, the Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center, to help give homes and resources such as jobs and healthcare to houseless youth and those at risk of houselessness, especially LGBTQ+ kids who make up as much as 40% of this country’s houseless population, are undeniably necessary, ameliorative projects. However, on the poster for a banal mixed-use and mixed-income housing development the description of why the project is inclusive reads: “The project has gone through extensive design iterations, city vetting, and community engagement processes to ensure it captures neighborhood feedback. Meetings around the community were offered in both English and Spanish, with translators and/or translation equipment at every meeting, making it as accessible as possible for community members.” Is this not the bare minimum we should expect? Pair that with the bare minimum in architectural quick-build tastelessness by the Philadelphia firm SITIO and one has to wonder what sort of definition of “design” is at play here. Some projects are more design-y than others. Pewabic Pottery, the Symbiotic Landscape watershed restoration, a digital mapping project that proposes using architectural and urban interventions to fight Detroit’s “digital divide”—these all make design part-and-parcel of their mission, and they're realizing that mission. An entrepreneurship incubator or a bakery in a mixed-use development, Core City, which some Detroiters I spoke with expressed distrust of, might be interesting, or at least tasty, but is it necessarily a “design” solution? Is a building in and of itself using design to address these so-called civic challenges, let alone being inclusive by and through design? This vagueness of mission and indeterminate take on the role of design in some projects points out a bigger issue. The project’s main sponsor and proponent, one of the three partner organizers, Bedrock, has undeniably reshaped downtown Detroit, perhaps in ways, some residents might see as for the better. From the design-forward Shinola Hotel to the forthcoming first foray by the fast-fashion retailer H&M to the revamp of the 475-foot-tall Book Tower, a magnificent and delirious example of early 20th-century architecture that has sat unoccupied for a decade, downtown Detroit is increasingly lively (and increasingly expensive). And, fitting with the exhibition's theme, “Creating unique, inclusive experiences through real estate is Bedrock’s mission,” claims a Bedrock press release. Yet, as the Detroit Free Press has recently revealed, Bedrock has gotten huge swaths of downtown property at little cost, with many incentives and tax breaks, and with an unheard of lack of financial oversight. Also, Bedrock has leveraged their power to strong-arm Michigan’s OSHA into looking away from their safety violations while “lecturing” inspectors on how to do their jobs. Is creating buildings without protecting working people inclusive? In addition, while Bedrock has been touting their successful bid to redevelop the site of the so-called “fail jail,” turning this long-vacant lot into usable space, this deal was negotiated with Wayne County by allowing Rock Ventures, another Dan Gilbert organization and Bedrock’s parent company, to construct that county’s jail, presumably without sullying Bedrock’s name. How can one claim to not only celebrate inclusive design but create "inclusive experiences," while supporting the creation of one of the United States’ most powerful and inarguably racist tools of social and mortal death? Perhaps the theme, "Inclusive Futures", says it all: a virtuous-sounding word like “inclusive” can itself often be so inclusive as to be virtually meaningless, a rhetorical throwaway. Because what is “inclusion”—and what “inclusive futures” are possible—without equity, without reparations, without an effort to shift the balance of political and economic power? While many grassroots projects and even larger scale ones featured in DD139 are compelling, worthy, and deserve the spotlight, with the ongoing efforts of the exhibition’s primary sponsor Bedrock to stymy state oversight, build jails, and get land cheaply, you wind up not only with misplaced good intentions—you get design washing. DD139 is on view in Detroit through September 30th. You can read more about the projects here.
The director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture for the past 14 years, Mirko Zardini, will step down at the end of the year, and Giovanna Borasi will take his place starting in January. Borasi is chief curator at the CCA, and she has been a curator at the Montreal-based institution since 2005. Zardini led the CCA through a crucial period of growth and change. The CCA was founded in 1979 by the architect Phyllis Lambert with a desire to provoke—a masthead on their website quotes Lambert as saying “We’re not a museum that puts things out and says, ‘This is architecture.’ We try to make people think.” As its director, Zardini made crucial moves to fulfill Lambert's mission, including the ambitious use of the CCA's archives and exhibition spaces, enabling a vibrant research program, and launching an online platform that makes the CCA's resources widely available. Donations to the archives during Zardini's tenure include those of Kenneth Frampton, Pierre Jeanneret, Abalos Herreros, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Alessandro Poli, Umberto Riva, Álvaro Siza Vieira, and Anthony Vidler. Donations of works by architects included Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, Foreign Office Architects, and UnStudio. Recent exhibitions such as The Other Architect (2015-16) and three shows in the Archaeology of the Digital series (2013-16) have been international in scope and focused on challenging models of architectural practice. Zardini has positioned the CCA as a crucial node in conversations about architecture and the urban realm. In an interview with AN, Zardini deflected questions about the "highlights" of his time at the CCA: "I like to think of what we produce as critical tools," he said, not singular exhibitions or publications. He emphasized the CCA's success in focusing on environmental issues, the effects of increasing global multicultural processes, the question of combining large-scale planning with button-up building, and reflections on technology. Zardini said that he hopes the CCA "will not be judged for any single exhibition or publication, but for the discourse it has produced through the years." He added that he likes that the CCA is "mature enough as an institution to speak in a collective voice." This is "not easy," he says, because "as an institution, you have to build your own public." He concluded that his achievement as a director has been in "the kind of friction we have created at the CCA – we have maintained the institution in a critical position." The appointment of Borasi is based on a conviction that Zardini's time as director was a success. In a statement, CCA Board Chair and Toronto-based architect Bruce Kuwabara emphasized that the CCA will continue to build on its current direction. Borasi was involved from the beginning of when Zardini became director, and indeed before. After curating and collaborating on exhibitions in Milan and working as an editor of Lotus International, Borasi worked closely with Zardini on exhibitions in Italy and then at the CCA. They seem to think alike. One of Borasi's current projects involves the creation of three short documentary films, the first of which, What it takes to Make a Home, will focus on homelessness. It will premier at the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York in October 2019. This type of experimentation with media, modes of discourse, and challenging topics related to the built environment embodies the essence of the CCA's approach to architecture. Speaking about her upcoming directorship and Zardini, Borasi said in an interview that she "shares his vision. He pushed the idea from Phyllis that architecture is not just about building, but about ideas." Borasi emphasized their shared belief that architecture "needs to have an impact at large" by constantly asking "What are the issues that architects should discuss today?" She said that it is the responsibility of an institution such as the CCA to "ask the questions that no one wants to ask. This means that the CCA "is not neutral. Architecture that is committed, not self-referential, is the architecture I am interested in." Zardini was quick to emphasize how he has benefitted from collaboration at the CCA. Lambert's support has been crucial, he said, as has collaboration with Borasi. He mentioned the help of several others at the CCA and outside, including strong advice from Peter Eisenman that the CCA should be proactive and take risks in the use of its resources. Pressed to offer advice, Zardini opined that "many other institutions are too confident of the traditional role that they have. In this moment, rather than being reassuring, institutions need to be provocative;" they should become "public intellectual figures." Zardini spoke against the pressures of the current neoliberal moment: "Rather than thinking of architects as part of large corporations, I would rather think of architects operating with a more community-oriented strategy or in public organizations." Asked what he will do next, Zardini mentioned that he has "never had a chance to take a sabbatical." He said that he "never aspired to become 'director' of anything," that he is "not a director by career," and he even mentioned wryly that did not apply for the directorship of the CCA, but was persuaded to take it by Lambert. Zardini plans to spend time in Europe and begin work on new research – to "create a new baggage of ideas to work with in the future." Among his last projects at the CCA will be a publication of essays from the past 15 years, which is due out in spring 2020. What will remain to be seen is whether Zardini's departure and Borasi's appointment will mark the end of an era for the CCA or the continuation of an approach that seems to have worked.
For Marie-Eve Warren, cofounder of boutique firm Warren Garrett, setting up a Montreal atelier earlier this year meant returning home to her native town. She and partner Jeremy Garrett established their interior architecture practice in Los Angeles in 2003. Espousing a refined and harmonious style, the duo made a name for themselves by completing a number of high-end residential projects for Hollywood stars and professional athletes. With extensive travel experience and backgrounds in the creative environments of film, television, and fashion, they were able to infuse their approach with influences derived from international trends, cultures, and lifestyles. Tapping into Montreal's growing prominence on the international design stage but also its strategic geographic position—placing the firm is closer proximity to its projects in Europe, Africa, and North America—Warren Garrett chose the Quebecois city to open a second atelier outpost. “Montreal is an architecturally-rich, sophisticated metropolis that has managed to maintain a sense of small-town warmth and charm,” says Garrett. “It is also experiencing movement towards new high-end real estate developments and luxury environments, and our goal is to offer our insight and expertise in that arena, which has been our practice’s core-focus since our inception. We want to integrate into that movement and to help it strike a balance. Montreal is a stable platform for growth and creativity, with a hyper-creative subconscious and a plethora of inspirational individuals." Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Local interior design firm BlazysGérard has converted a former insurance office into Montreal's latest breakfast and lunch hotspot Dandy; celebrated chef Michael Tozzi first venture out on his own. The monumental restaurant balances an unpretentious atmosphere with a touch of class; achieved through the running theme of arches and circular elements. The design practice identified this design motif in the space's large pre-existing, street-facing windows and carried through the implementation of structural details, bespoke pendant lamps, and oversized mirrors. The enfilade-esque restaurant incorporates all of its dining tables, chairs, and banquets in one central two-row volume with a sequence of mobile-like, two-prong, arch-shaped lamps running above; that evoke structural room-diving archways on either side. Altogether, this scheme cuts an impressive profile. But however bold in geometric expression the concept might be, Dandy's design is intended to act as an unimposing backdrop canvas for its clientele. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
Young Montreal lighting brand Lambert & Fils has gained recognition in the past few years with a series of blockbuster lighting collections that have broken away from the norms that have stagnated the lighting industry in the past few years. Notable designs include the airport-inspired Dorval series, developed with French studio SCMP. The boutique design house has also developed a series of lauded private and retail interiors. Building on this success, Lambert & Fils has just opened a new exhibition annex adjacent to its office and workshop. Located in the heart of Montreal, Corridor promises to become a new space for cultural exchange. The gallery will feature art and design, and will explore where these often-siloed disciplines intersect. To launch the new space, Lambert & Fils tapped Swiss designer Adrien Rovero to create a special, temporary installation. The Feu de Camp mise-en-scene draws inspiration from Rovero's short time in the boy scouts but also from Montreal’s long and cold winters. The installation incorporates various geometric forms, flashlight-inspired fixtures, and simple industrial materials—green tubes, elastics, electrical wires, and semi-spherical glass diffusers—loosely in the form of a campfire as a way to bring people together during the dreary late-winter season. The installation is arranged around a central node with 12 low-lying lamps surrounding in a circle. These elements were used sparingly to compose a playful yet technically-refined setup, and Rovero also created a wall mural that illustrates this peculiar typology in his unique assemblage-inspired aesthetic. Though this inaugural installation closes tomorrow, Corridor will open the new Studio Edition exhibition—a group show featuring work by emerging Canadian designers—in the coming months.
Safdie Architects has officially completed a two-year-long restoration of Moshe Safdie’s personal unit at Habitat 67, a landmark apartment complex designed by a young Safdie himself for Montreal. The project was done in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the seminal structure. Safdie’s light-filled duplex unit is located on the 10th floor of the 238,500-square-foot brutalist building and overlooks the Saint Lawrence River and downtown Montreal. The careful restoration of the prefabricated piece of architecture has been a serious undertaking. Safdie Architects worked to bring the entire facility into the 21st century by upgrading its technical systems to modern sustainability and energy conservation standards. They also stripped the exterior concrete walls that showed severe signs of decades-long water damage in order to repair, insulate, and waterproof the envelope from the harsh Canadian winters. For the interior of Safdie’s apartment, the design team restored the space to its original 1960s condition. They repaired the wood parquet flooring, installed new windows, and restored the sliding patio doors that retract into the concrete walls. The wood-slatted terraces were revamped to include the clear polycarbonate railings found on the original structure. The bathrooms, outfitted with molded fiber glasses, were also rehabilitated, along with the fixtures and fittings. The kitchen was completely restored as well. Now in mint condition, the unit will be dedicated to the public realm as a resource for research and tours as Safdie Architects continues an ongoing restoration of the building’s envelope.