July 19, 2009
by Canadian Architect
Sandy van Ginkel died on July 6, 2009, peacefully in his sleep in Toronto at the age of 89, after a series of strokes. Born in Amsterdam, Sandy was active in the Dutch Resistance during the Second World War. Crossing enemy lines, he witnessed the German surrender to Prince Bernhardt and entered Amsterdam with the Canadian army. He had finished his studies in architecture during the German occupation, refusing his diploma because he would not sign the Nazi documents, though this did not prevent him from practice as an architect and urbanist after the war. He worked on rehabilitation in the Netherlands, the new towns in Sweden and, with partner Aldo van Eyck, designed a new town and its school buildings in the Netherlands.
He met Blanche Lemco, a Canadian architect, at a CIAM congress in France in 1953. They married and moved to Montreal in 1957, where they worked as van Ginkel Associates. Projects included saving Old Montreal from demolition in 1960 by stopping construction of an elevated expressway and halting urban encroachment on Mount Royal Park. Sandy was Chief Planner and designer for Expo 67. They were commissioned by the City of New York in the ’70s to solve the city’s traffic congestion in Midtown Manhattan and, as part of the solution, Sandy designed an innovative minibus, the Ginkelvan. The prototype was purchased by the town of Vail, Colorado, where it operated for several years. Sandy’s professional activities crossed Canada with projects from the Arctic to Newfoundland, and extended to Malaysia, Brazil and the eastern US as well as to residential architecture in Canada and Europe.
Moving to Toronto in 1977, Sandy’s focus turned to sculpture, showing in juried exhibitions and in private collections. A Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Sandy was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007. He will be deeply missed by Blanche; his son Peter Bastien and grandchildren Tara and Bo; daughter Brenda and grandson Anthony Armstrong; son Marc (Mary Ellen Cale) and his many friends.
The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal holds the complete archive of van Ginkel Associates, an influential Canadian multidisciplinary planning, management, and architecture firm. Van Ginkel Associates worked on large projects for federal government departments, as well as city planning departments, major developers, and multi-national corporations in Canada and abroad. The archive largely consists of the firm’s project and research files (11 linear metres) for some 80 commissions and proposals. These project records are complemented by approximately 1,500 drawings, as well as reports, correspondence, research files, conference records, and other materials dated 1955 to 1980.