Architecture and National Identity: The Centennial Projects 50 Years On

In the lead-up to the Centennial of Confederation in 1967, the federal government of Canada instituted funding programs to support the construction of projects across the country celebrating the Centennial. The ambitions of these programs, which amounted to a gigantic public building campaign, were unabashedly about nation-building, and aimed to uncover and give form to the identity of a modern nation entering its second century of existence. The buildings that were created, known as the Centennial Projects, effectively communicated Canada’s self-confidence to its citizens and to the world, allowing everyone to take in and advance the new national spirit.

Running from October 5, 2014 to January 11, 2015 at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI, this exhibition is guest curated by Marco Polo and Colin Ripley of Ryerson University, and documents 21 of the most important Centennial Projects. All the projects presented, from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to the UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta, are important expressions of a particular moment in Canadian life and culture. The Centennial Projects, in the youthfulness and vigour of their design, expressed the youthfulness, vigour and optimism of Canada in the 1960s. Now, 50 years on, it is time to re-examine this remarkable moment in Canadian architecture.

The exhibition catalogue, Architecture and National Identity: The Centennial Projects 50 Years On, published by Dalhousie Architectural Press, will be available for purchase at the opening on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 3:00pm.

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