Jason Tsironis wins the Canada Council for the Arts’ Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners

McGill University School of Architecture graduate Jason Tsironis has been named the 2012 winner of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners. Tsironis will use the prize to explore the potential of modern ruins and collective identity. Through his project, Monuments and the Fabrication of New Identities – Architectural Transformations and Erasures in Post-Soviet Cities, Tsironis will study the relationship of old and new in historically sensitive reconstruction and its impact on a nation’s perception of its collective past and present. His research will take him to 11 cities in seven countries of the former Soviet Union, including Moscow (Russia), Kiev (Ukraine), Vilnius (Lithuania), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Almaty (Kazakhstan).

Such research has major implications for the practice of architecture in Canada. Although not as dramatic or traumatic as the case studies in the ex-Soviet Union, Canadian institutions are also important sites for re-engagement. In particular, the precarious situation of historical churches in Quebec is of great interest to Tsironis. Their potential to serve as a focal point for social interaction is significantly jeopardized by continuous demolition and privatization. Tsironis’s proposal to research and visit Soviet ruins will give him a sharper understanding of the relationship of memory and identity in the formation of nationhood, equipping him to tackle such issues in multiple contexts.

Tsironis was selected by an assessment committee of architects: Gordon Atkins (Calgary), Philip Evans (Toronto), Veronica Gillies (Vancouver), Alexander Redford (Price, Quebec) and Taryn Sheppard (St. John’s). The committee members said, “Jason understands what extraordinary gestures people made when they invested their resources and ambitions in making buildings that would last for many generations after their own passing. It’s heartening to see a young designer try to understand and harness the power embedded in these structures, by way of intelligent repurposing and well-tempered design interventions.”

The $34,000 Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners is awarded to a recent graduate of one of Canada’s ten accredited schools of architecture who demonstrates outstanding potential. The prizewinner is given the opportunity to visit significant architectural sites abroad and to intern at an architecture firm of international stature.

Tsironis will intern with David Chipperfield Architects in Berlin, Germany. Their work with historically sensitive projects has influenced Tsironis throughout his studies. In 2010, the firm received the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture for the rebuilding of the Neues Museum, heavily damaged in the bombing of Berlin during the Second World War.

Jason Tsironis was born in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and grew up in neighbouring Kirkland. He graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a Master of Architecture degree. His interest in the potential of architectural ruins as a site for contemporary design stems from his studies at McGill, where he says the School of Architecture emphasizes the importance of historical studies. Tsironis was selected to receive the School of Architecture’s 2008 Wilfred Truman Shaver scholarship, which enabled him to visit architectural sites in Jordan and Dubai. Tsironis also received the Arcop Alcan Award for his 2010-2011 professional thesis project for demonstrating sensitivity to the historical and cultural context in the recuperation of the ruins of the baths of Caracalla in Rome. He was named to the Honour Roll of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 2011.

In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council is committed to raising public awareness and celebrating these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

For more information, please visit www.canadacouncil.ca/news/releases/2011/wp129719123284555338.htm.