Canada Post issues Royal Architectural Institute of Canada postage stamps

Four of Canadas architectural gems are spotlighted in a new set of domestic rate (52) stamps that were issued on May 9, 2007, to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).

The RAIC was formed in 1907 with a mission to establish closer professional ties between provincial groups of architects in Canada. Today, the Institute represents the interests of more than 3,500 architects, along with faculty and graduates of accredited Canadian university schools of architecture from every region of the country. The RAICs mandate is to recognize and promote excellence in Canadian architecture and support the profession nationwide.

Excellence in architecture is represented brilliantly in the quartet of stamps designed by Ivan Novotny of Taylor|Sprules Corporation. The stamps feature the works of world-renowned architects Arthur Erickson, Douglas Cardinal, Raymond Moriyama and Moshe Safdie, all of whom have received prestigious RAIC gold medals as well as the Order of Canada. The marvellous edifices and their corresponding opening dates are: the University of Lethbridge by Erickson, 1971; St. Marys Church by Cardinal, 1969; the Ontario Science Centre by Moriyama, 1969; and the National Gallery of Canada by Safdie, 1988.

For stamp designer Novotny, the idea of placing such large buildings on an area as small as a postage stamp felt odd. These buildings needed room to breathe, he says. So we decided to use the panes selvage to extend additional elements beyond the stamps borders. The invisible markingssomewhat challenging to the task of bleeding the images onto the edgewere integrated through the use of vertical lines, creating a modular illusion that plays nicely on the building theme. The pane includes different selvages on each side. The RAIC centennial logo and the Institutes seal appear in the top and bottom selvages, respectively. Elements of original sketches of each of the projects appear on the left, while portraits of the architects themselves are displayed on the right.

This feature, combined with the colours that bleed from the stamp to the selvages, creates a marvelous sense of interaction between the architects and their art, says Alain Leduc, manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. The integration of selvage and stamp seems borderless, making for one unique piece of art that offers collectors the opportunity to build their own selvage and stamp combinations.

For the RAIC, the stamps are a fitting tribute to an exceptional organization that has contributed much to the profession of architecture for the past 100 years. [The stamps are] really a great celebration of our centennial, comments Jon Hobbs, executive director of the RAIC. It helps the public recognize the importance of architecture to our Canadian culture, economy and quality of life.

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