News (March 01, 2003)


Five proposals for Montreal complex.

Proposals for the construction of a new cultural and administrative complex were juried last month under the aegis of the Socite immobilire du Qubec in Montreal and shortlisted to five firms. The cultural complex will accommodate the Orchestre symphonique de Montral and the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Qubec Montral. Out of 112 submissions from 20 countries, short-listed firms are: Busby + Associates Architects of Vancouver, Cohlmeyer Architects of Winnipeg, De Architekten Cie of Amsterdam, NOMADE architecture inc. of Montreal and Montreal’s Saucier + Perrotte architectes. Honourable mentions were given to Hal Ingberg Architect/Birtz Bastien architectes of Montreal, Hillier of Princeton, New Jersey, Lea Zeppetelli Architect + O/I Interdisciplinary Office of Montreal, Massimiliano Fuksas Architetto of Rome and 3XNielsen A/S of Arhus, Denmark. Proposals were judged for their conceptual and urbanistic approach, clarity of presentation and technical feasibility. A winning scheme will be chosen later this Spring.


Boreal Biodiversity Centre.

The Centre for Conservation of Boreal Biodiversity designed by Scno Plus inc. and Les Architectes associs (Leblond Tremblay Boulay Fradette Barette) and is scheduled to open in June as a tourist destination within the Zoo sauvage de St-Flicien in St-Flicien, Quebec. Integrated within the zoo site, the new 4,800 square metre, two-storey centre is a multipurpose high-performance venue that includes a giant screen theatre set into a cliff. The architects used local materials such as wood and granite in an effort to strike a balance between the surrounding environment and the cultural aspects of the project. An educational pathway inside the building begins in a 235-seat auditorium and follows a visitors’ educational trajectory to a 266-seat giant screen cinema. The centre also contains an external agora, documentation centre, laboratories, discovery workshop and exhibition area as well as administrative offices, a caf and a boutique.


New architecture policy.

The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the creation of a policy in support of architecture, which has been in an organizational process for two years. A need was identified for the position of an Architecture Officer, which was created in 2002. With the input of the new officer, Brigitte Desrochers, and a Special Architecture Advisory Committee, new programs are being launched and pilot projects are to be set up as ways of lending support to architects in practice. Support will also centre around several aspects of architectural culture in Canada, including the production of articles, publications, exhibitions and events on contemporary architecture in this country. A further commitment will be made to help architecture firms achieve artistic excellence in their built work, and to let the public better appreciate and enjoy their creations.

Young firms will be encouraged with grant programs that will enable mentorship and consultations and the promotion of architectural competitions will be instigated with pilot projects for relevant government Departments and Ministries. For more information visit adds Winnipeg.

A Web site aiming to create discussion on architecture between architects and the public has added a section on the architecture of Winnipeg. The range of 20th century architecture including the Chicago School warehouses and the Beaux-Arts Legislature Building motivated the researchers to include Winnipeg as the first Canadian city on the Web site, to which Vancouver and then Montreal will be added. The archiseek site is an international project affiliated with, dedicated to publishing information on buildings and cities worldwide.


Architects Against War.

Like many others, I have watched with increasing dread and helplessness the drive to war against Iraq and its people. The devastation and horrific loss of life predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO), Oxfam and other NGOs stand in stark contrast to the equanimity with which political leaders and our national media regard the preparations for military action.

Nightly we are regaled with images of colossal aircraft carriers, their payload of jets taking off and landing with precision, house to house battle rehearsals. These images will soon be replaced with those of shattered homes, broken bodies and terrified children. The WHO places the number of Iraqi civilians that would be wounded at 100,000 and a further 400,000 hit by disease after the bombing of water and sewage facilities and the disruption of food supplies. Fleeing the cities for the open countryside, 3.6 million will need emergency shelter. This is the true face of war, UN-approved or not.

Architects and educators in architecture cannot regard this picture with detachment. We adhere to a discipline dedicated to the creation of liveable cities, the building of friendly communities, of decent housing, of healthy and safe environments in which children may grow and learn. Many of us have no doubt written to our MPs, joined the March for Peace in our hometown, urged the adoption of anti-war resolutions on our city councils. Such a resolution passed by the City of Vancouver was drafted by Lawyers Against the War. Associations of physicians, of nurses, of writers–impelled by the principles of their calling–have made public their opposition to the U.S. and British administrations’ drive to war. No less bound by the very nature of their creative role, Canadian architects, architectural faculty and students must find voice to express their own dissent with the terrible threat to Iraqi cities and their inhabitants. We have a national organization, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. It could be the platform from which the voice of Architects Against War is heard.

Joseph Baker, FRAIC, PPOAQ


Canadians can compete.

Further to the discussion about the “internationalization” of the Canadian architectural market (Viewpoint, September 2002), the results of the first round of the open international competition for the new home for the Montreal Symphony reveal that out of 112 entries, four of the five finalists are Canadian (see page 9).

This was the result of a blind selection process (the architects for the projects remained anonymous through the judging). Provided architects are selected on merit–not fashion–Canadians can compete!

Peter Busby, FRAIC, MAIBC



The Canadian Embassy in Poland designed by WZMH Architects, which we reported had been named the year’s best public building by the City of Warsaw and Best Building of the Year 2001 by Polish Business News magazine (see CA, January 2003), was also awarded a special citation from the Association of Polish Architects for the best architectural design in Poland in 2002.


The photograph of the Bahen Centre for Information Technology on page 20 of the January 2003 issue should be credited to Elizabeth Gyde.