Pierre Blanger and WILLIAMSONWILLIAMSON INC. win Canada Council for the Arts architecture awards

The Canada Council for the Arts announced today that Toronto landscape architect Pierre Blanger is the winner of the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture for 2008, and that WILLIAMSONWILLIAMSON of Toronto has won the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement. These awards recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the fields of architecture and architectural design. The winners of both awards were selected by a jury appointed by the Canada Council, comprised of Marc Boutin (Calgary), Rodolphe El-Khoury (Toronto), Christine Macy (Halifax), Marie Odile Marceau (Vancouver) and Marc-Andr Plasse (Montreal).

The Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, valued at $50,000, is awarded to a young architect or practitioner of architecture, an architecture firm or an architectural design firm that has completed its first buildings and demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The prize, established in 1987, allows the winners to travel to other parts of the world to hone their skills, develop their creative practice and strengthen their presence in international architecture culture. The project can involve multiple trips to a number of destinations, spread over a two-year period.

Blanger’s project will explore the reciprocity between water systems and mass urbanization around the world. According to Blanger, “growing demand, climate change and issues around water governance, coupled with pollution and excessive wastage, have put both surface and groundwater resources under severe stress.” He will travel to three critical regions in Asia, Europe and the Middle East to investigate how the field of landscape architecture can contribute to watershed change.

A landscape architect and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, at the University of Toronto, Blanger focuses on the converging fields of landscape, infrastructure and urbanism. Combining knowledge from the engineering and environmental sciences, He collaborates with public agencies, private landowners, regional authorities and a team of interdisciplinary practitioners who focus on the dual objectives of ecological durability and economic performance of large urban landscapes, by design.

Blanger has received honorable mentions in several international design competitions including the 2006 Chicago Burnham Prize Competition, 2007 Columbus Rewired Competition and the 2008 2G Venice Lagoon competition. He has recently published articles on urban infrastructure in Topos, The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Canadian Architect, Food and The Journal of Tunneling. He completed graduate studies for the Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he received the Janet Darling Webel and Norman T. Newton Prizes in Design. He previously worked as a project manager for Brinkman & Associates, Canada’s largest reforestation and bio-engineering contractor.

The Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement was established in 1990, in collaboration with the Canada Council, by friends and colleagues as a tribute to the life and work of Thom, an eminent Canadian architect. The $10,000 prize is awarded every two years to a candidate in the early stages of his or her career who demonstrates outstanding talent or potential in architectural design and a sensitivity to architecture’s allied arts, crafts and professions, including landscape, interior and furniture design, and decorative and graphic arts. The projects of this year’s laureate, WILLIAMSONWILLIAMSON, range from furniture and installations to buildings and urban proposals.

WILLIAMSONWILLIAMSON INC. is a Toronto-based architecture and design studio founded in 2002 by Betsy Williamson, a member of the Ontario Association of Architects, and Shane Williamson, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. The studio was a finalist in the Pentagon Memorial Competition and Chicago Burnham Prize in 2002 and 2004, respectively. In 2006, the studio was awarded the Young Architects Award from the Architectural League of New York. Current projects include new residences under construction in Grey Highlands, Ontario and downtown Toronto.More information is available at www.williamsonwilliamson.com.