Canadian Building Trades Monument winning design announced

The winning design for Canada’s Building Trades Unions Monument, by artist John Greer and architect Brian MacKay-Lyons.
The winning design for Canada’s Building Trades Unions Monument, by artist John Greer and architect Brian MacKay-Lyons.

Canada’s Building Trades Unions is pleased to announce the design team for the Canadian Building Trades Monument, to be built in Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa. A jury of experts selected the successful design team from 40 submissions received in response to a national Request for Qualifications. Four design teams were shortlisted and invited to develop proposals in June 2015.

The successful design team, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, consists of sculptor John Greer and architect Brian MacKay-­Lyons.

Brian MacKay­‐Lyons, co­‐founder of MacKay­‐Lyons Sweetapple Architects, has practiced architecture for more than 30 years, and was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal in 2015. MacKay­‐Lyons was recently named the recipient of one of 9 international fellowships awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The Canadian Building Trades Monument will mark their first collaboration. John Greer has exhibited internationally and taught sculpture at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for 26 years. Greer was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2009.

The Canadian Building Trades Monument will be located across from Parliament in Major’s Hill Park, on a prominent site overlooking the Ottawa River. The site will be a place to celebrate the great achievements of this nation’s many skilled building tradesmen and women—stonemasons, mechanical trades, carpenters, ironworkers, construction labourers, and others.

The Government of Canada, through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission, is providing the site and facilitating the development of the new monument.

The monument, which is slated for installation in 2017, will be built in Canada with Cambrian black granite, quarried in Quebec. Its most prominent feature will be a pair of oversized plumb bobs, which are amongst the oldest building tools known to humankind. It will also feature 14 tools, to be chosen by the 14 different trade unions sponsoring the monument, each of which will choose the tool that is iconic for their membership.

In describing their proposal, the design team said: “Building is the most optimistic of human acts. This monument celebrates and honours the Canadian building tradesmen and women who construct the world around us. As you enter this place, you are invited to reflect on their accomplishments and on your role as a participant.”

Robert Blakely, Canadian Operating Officer of Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), explains, “CBTU is proud to offer this monument as a gift to all Canadians. Choosing one team from so many excellent submissions was difficult, but we believed deeply in the winning team’s skill as craftsmen, the sculpture’s exceptional quality and its layers of meaning, which will be symbolic of the foundational nature of our work, our sacrifices, and our strengths as builders. It will be built to last.”

The competition to design, fabricate, and install the monument, which has a budget of $660,000, was open to Canadian artists and designers. The 5-­member jury for this public art competition consisted of Gérald Lajeunesse (landscape architect); John McEwen (artist); Marie-­Jeanne Musiol (artist); David Frank (labour historian) and Robert Blakely (union representative).

The Canadian Building Trades Monument is being built by CBTU in partnership with their fair employers, and in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission.