In Memoriam, Projects, Awards, In Brief

In Memoriam

Guy Desbarats, 1925-2003. Guy Desbarats, OAQ, FRAIC of Montreal’s ARCOP (Architects in Co-Partnership) firm died last month in hospital in Sherbrooke, Quebec, of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 78. The last surviving founding member of ARCOP, Desbarats was instrumental in the design of the tetrahedron buildings at Expo in Montreal, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Place des Arts Complex in Montreal, Charlottetown’s Fathers of Confederation Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse in Vancouver and Calgary’s Centre for the Performing Arts, as well as the Massey Medal-winning McGill University Student Union building. He was born in 1925 in Montreal, and held a position beginning in 1954 at the School of Architecture at McGill University. He helped form Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Michaud, Sise in 1955, winning a competition in 1958 for the design of the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse on the basis of student drawings by Dimakopoulos. The architects called themselves Architects in Co-Partnership (ARCOP) beginning in 1969. In 1976, Desbarats took up the post of Assistant Deputy Minister for Design and Construction with Public Works Canada.


New research facility, McGill University. Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Fichten Soiferman et Associs Architectes in joint venture have completed 740 Docteur-Penfield, a new research facility on the campus of McGill University in Montreal. Four research groups will share the facility, an integral new addition to the McGill University Health Centre. They include McGill University and Gnome Qubec’s Innovation Centre, the Montreal Proteomics Network, the Jamson T.N. Wong Laboratories for Bone and Periodontal Research, and five bio-business incubators.

A three-storey central atrium facilitates easy interaction among the building’s occupants in a design meant to foster a cross-generation of research and ideas between traditional disciplines. The concept took inspiration from the world-renowned Human Genome Project, in which genetics researchers, located internationally, communicated daily in the mapping of the human genome. The massing is composed of a metal-framed glass complex atop a solid limestone base, and capped with a metal-clad penthouse. A series of canted planes, clad with diaphanous mesh scrims, control the low altitude afternoon sun that falls on the west side of the building. The window pattern on the west elevation represents an abstraction and random array of the elemental building blocks. This elevation undergoes a transformation in the evening when the window slots are illuminated from within and the pattern is revealed, creating the effect of an architectural genetic code. On the east elevation, a mullion pattern represents a formal plan transparency, where the locations of interior walls and significant laboratory research spaces are projected into the elevation depicting a glimpse of the building’s own formal code. Opened officially in September, the facility cost $31.5 million and covers 100,000 square feet.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto. Designed by Jack Diamond of Toronto’s Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated, the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) new facility, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, is slated to open in June 2006. The COC is Canada’s largest producer of opera and currently stages its six yearly productions at Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre. The new 2000-seat facility broke ground this spring at the corner of University Avenue and Queen Street, across from Osgoode Hall and next to the Toronto Sheraton Centre. The main entrance/ reception hall will be located on University Avenue, while the Queen Street side will maintain an animated pedestrian and retail presence with a box office, shops, and coffee venue. A play of transparent and opaque screens positioned in dynamic tension with each other include design compositions of plane and plateau, texture and polish, and solid and void. The fully glazed City Room, regarded as an extension of the sidewalk at University and Queen, renders the opera house accessible to the public and makes visible the pre-performance arrival and movements of the audience, particularly on the transparent stairwell and aerial amphitheatre. After dark, this Room will glow like a glass lantern among the otherwise low ambient light of the area. In addition the subway is accessed directly from the building.

A traditional five-tiered European horseshoe shaped auditorium, the R. Fraser Elliott Hall, will provide no seat further than 120 feet from the stage, making the facility one of the most intimate such venues in the world. Designed for the acoustic requirements of opera, and sight lines essential for ballet performances, special considerations were also made for protection from outside subway, streetcar and other street sounds such that the entire audience, chamber pit and stage are to be built as an entirely separate and isolated structure of the building. In stark contrast to the City Room, the audience chamber is a closed envelope. A rooftop terrace for outdoor receptions faces Osgoode Hall, while dance rehearsal studios will be located above stage level.


Maples and Lambert receive AIA honours. Bonnie Maples, FRAIC and currently the President of the RAIC, was one of the recipients of the American Institute of Architects’ Presidential Medal this year. Phyllis Lambert, Founding Chair of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, was named an Honourary Fellow of the AIA along with Jean-Marie Charpentier (France); Jacques Herzog (Switzerland); Il-In Hwang (Republic of Korea) and Pierre de Meuron (Switzerland).

In Brief

SBIS Web site. A new website at is the home of the Sustainable Building Information System (SBIS). The system, launched by the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE) with the support of several organizations around the world has as its goal to allow users internationally to gain access to a rich body of information related to sustainable building in several languages. Topic files on the site include Advanced Technologies, Methods and Tools, Policies and Programs, Buildings, People, Events, and more.