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Mid-Century Icons: Architectural Photography from the Panda Collection


May 16, 2007
by Canadian Architect

The Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto presents this exhibition of photographs representing mid-20th-century Canadian architecture. Organized by the Canadian Architectural Archives at the University of Calgary, the display occurs in conjunction with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and as part of Torontos annual CONTACT photography festival.

The exhibition runs from May 7th to August 4th at the Eric Arthur Gallery at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, and the 55 enlarged photographs in the show are drawn from the Canadian Architectural Archives Panda Collection, which has approximately 500,000 images. Panda Associates, a commercial architectural photography firm, was established in Toronto in 1946 by three former Royal Canadian Air Force photographers and existed until 1992. Panda founders Hugh Robertson, Paul Rockett and Lockwood Haight eagerly embraced modernism and documented the work of leading architects and firms such as Page and Steele, John B. Parkin, John C. Parkin, Gordon Adamson, George Robb, Peter Dickinson, Ron Thom, Jerome Markson, Victor Prus, Raymond Moriyama, Arthur Erickson, and Eberhard Zeidler, to name a few. At one point Panda had a staff of 12 people and was completing 1,500 jobs a year. Eventually the firms work extended beyond architecture into industrial design and commercial advertising.

The images in Mid-Century Icons represent the birth of the modern Canadian city and reflect how Canadians lived, dreamed, and defined themselves as our cities and suburbs developed. Moreover, the exhibition is a portrait of 20th-century Canada, and a visual record of five decades of Canadian architectural and cultural heritage.

The exhibition curators were Geoffrey Simmins, Professor of Art and Architectural History, University of Calgary, and Linda Fraser, Chief Curator and Archivist, Canadian Architectural Archives, with Rebecca Lesser as Assistant Curator. A Special Projects Grant from the University of Calgary and an Undergraduate Research Award were crucial to the realization of the exhibition. Support was also received through the University of Calgarys Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Art, and Library Archives and Special Collections, and from the University of Torontos Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Finally, a note of thanks to Fred Valentine for his assistance.



Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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