Canadian Architect


Benjamin Brown: Architect

February 12 - April 25, 2016
Urbanspace Gallery, 401 Richmond, Toronto

Benjamin Brown: Architect

February 12, 2016-April 23, 2016

Urbanspace Gallery, 401 Richmond, Toronto

The Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre (OJA) presents the work of Architect Benjamin Brown (1890-1974), whose career made a significant and lasting impact on Toronto’s built heritage.

Brown’s buildings—the Balfour and Tower Buildings, the Hermant Building, the Primrose Club, Beth Jacob Synagogue—are exquisite examples of Brown’s mastery of the au courant Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles while also incorporating the more traditional architectural tropes of the period. Buildings such as the Balfour and Tower buildings on lower Spadina Avenue express his signature style that characterized the Spadina garment district for much of the 20th century.

Benjamin Brown: Architect features original drawings, blueprints, water colour presentation boards, historical photographs, and maps that capture the breadth of Brown’s architectural accomplishments in the commercial, industrial, corporate, cultural, and residential landscape. They provide insight into Brown’s process of designing handsome yet utilitarian and enduring structures. These buildings are explored within the context of Toronto’s architectural heritage and the growth of the Jewish community that commissioned many of Brown’s buildings in the 1920s and 30s. A short film, also on view, presents contemporary perspectives on Brown’s buildings, demonstrating how they appear within Toronto’s dynamic urban landscape of today.

The OJA is fortunate to be the chosen repository for the extensive collection of Brown’s architectural drawings, numbering approximately 1,500 in total. “The OJA is thrilled to showcase the life of this relatively unknown, yet brilliant, architect while providing a lens into the Jewish community during this time,” says Dara Solomon, Director of the OJA.

Throughout the exhibition, the OJA will offer tours and school and public programs. Additionally, Heritage Toronto will unveil a historical plaque in front of Benjamin Brown’s Hermant Building at 21 Dundas Square.

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