Canadian Architect


Building Museums: Building Cities (II)

June 24, 2016
7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, Ontario

Friday 24 June, 3:00-6:00pm
Debates Room, Hart House
7 Hart House Circle

Building Museums: Building Cities (II) brings together an international group of architects, artists, critics and architectural historians to consider the surge of museum building initiatives over the recent past. Building on an earlier discussion which considered Toronto’s own recent cultural building ‘Renaissance’ and the surge of large capital projects and renewals of museum spaces currently developing across Canada, the current panel focuses more critically on the nature of museum architecture in the context of international development.

The panel will be introduced by Barbara Fischer, Executive Director of the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and includes panelists Toronto-based artist Adrian Blackwell; Shirley Blumberg of Toronto-based architectural firm KPMB; French architect Eric Lapierre; Charles Renfro of New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Paris-based writer and critic Philippe Trétiack; and Richard Sommer, Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.

The discussion will centre on recent museum architecture in the context of the paradigmatic transformations of ideas of the museum’s role in the larger culture. Taking as their point of departure recent examples in Canada, the US and France, the panelists will examine the tendency toward spectacular architecture and its role in urban renewal and gentrification, but also the transformation of the idea of the museum space—from a hallowed, quasi-religious and authoritarian space to one increasingly focused on the notion of the emancipated audience, broader visitor engagement,  the purpose of social gatherings, as a laboratory of ideas, and/or space of affective, immersive experience.

Produced in collaboration with the French Consulate of Toronto, and additionally supported by the Institut français, the panel will debate questions such as: How can art/ cultural buildings shape the physical and cultural ecology of a city?  To what extent can art/cultural buildings generate new urban cultural practices? How can or should programing, artistic practice, and curatorial directives drive the design process? How does architecture consider the transformation of art practices and role of the history of art and the “contemporary”? How does or should architectural space shape the visitor experience? How does architecture respond to the multi-levelled forms of art events and collections, as well as to the complexity of the shift from object-focused visitor experiences to social, spatial and affective encounters with art?

The event is supported by the Institut français, The Consulate General of France in Toronto, Hart House, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Manulife, MBNA and TD Insurance.

Shirley Blumberg: A founding partner of KPMB Architects, her portfolio ranges from mixed-use developments to highly specialized cultural and academic institutions, many with a focus on revitalizing heritage contexts. She played a role in Toronto’s Cultural Renaissance as partner-in-charge of Canada’s National Ballet School, the Gardiner Museum, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a guest critic and lecturer at universities across North America.

Adrian Blackwell is an artist, designer and urban theorist whose work focuses on the relation between physical spaces and political economic forces. He is an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and a board member of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy and was co-editor for issues 00 Property, 03 Realism, and 04 Currency.

Éric Lapierre is an architect, writer, curator, and teacher. He has worked on projects at different scales with strong theoretical issues, including the Monde diplomatique headquarters in Paris and Le Point du Jour Art Center in Cherbourg. He teaches at the ENSA in Marne-la-Vallée (Paris) and is in charge of a workshop at the Université du Québec in Montréal. He has also taught at the Saint-Luc University, at the ETH in Zürich and at the EPFL in Lausanne.

Charles Renfro is a Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the performing arts, and the visual arts. His work with DS+R has been exhibited worldwide at museums and institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Centre Pompidou.  Renfro was made a National  Academy Academician and  is a recipient of the 2015 Texas Medal of the Arts Awards.

Richard M. Sommer is an Architect, Professor, and Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. His professional and academic experience is diverse and includes serving as a faculty member, and Director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design for a decade before joining the Daniels Faculty. His work has been supported by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, The Tozzier Fund, The Wheelwright Fellowship, University of Ulster’s O’Hare Chair in Design and Development, and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Philippe Tretiack is a journalist, urbanist and architect. He writes on architecture for Beaux Arts Magazine and his work has been published in Le Monde, ELLE, Le Figaro Madame and Vanity Fair amongst others. He has published books on the Italian Mafia, essays on French politics, and novels. He is the author of  Faut-il pendre les architectes? and L’Architecture à toute vitesse.  He is member associate of the prestigious Académie des Beaux Arts in France.

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