RAIC Awards – President’s Award for Media in Architecture: Prix Citron

the work of franois cardinal in la presse
the work of franois cardinal in la presse

François Cardinal receives one of two Awards for Media in Architecture for a two-part series on the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. The articles, titled “Prix Citron” and “Maintenant, faut vivre avec” were published in December 2014 in the daily newspaper La Presse.

In the first article, Cardinal takes a critical look at the design of a major public building and how it became a missed opportunity for the city of Montreal. The second article is a commentary on the reactions of readers to his critique.

In the two articles, Cardinal argues that beyond the functions they contain, the exterior character of public buildings is also vital. While the McGill University Health Centre may boast a state-of-the-art interior equipped with advanced technologies, the failure of the building to create a grand civic gesture also deserves critical attention. Cardinal places the blame not on the architects, but on the P3 procurement process, which prioritizes basic low-cost construction over finessed design.

Cardinal’s writing underlines the importance of quality architecture in a manner accessible to the general public. Architecture, he explains, must take care of the surroundings that we share. In particular, public architecture should represent the highest achievements we are capable of, and leave a proud legacy for future generations.

a still from lucie lavigne's video series for la presse+
a still from lucie lavigne’s video series for la presse+

Lucie Lavigne receives recognition for 14 videos on contemporary residential architecture that were produced in 2013-2014. They appeared online and in LaPresse+, the digital edition of the newspaper for tablets, which reaches more than 438,000 mobile readers per week.

Over the past decade, Lavigne has written on contemporary residential architecture for La Presse. She also authored the guide Construire, rénover, transformer: les meilleures idées d’architectes pour réussir votre projet, published by Éditions La Presse in 2011.

When LaPresse+ launched, Lavigne created and directed over a dozen videos on architecture designed for the enhanced media platform. These video reports feature architects in houses that they designed, and engage viewers with their rich visual content.

From the humblest home to major architectural projects, Lavigne’s journalistic goal remains the same: to communicate the extraordinary capacity of quality architecture to contribute to the well-being of those who inhabit it.

Jury Comments
The jury was unanimous in recognizing the exceptional efforts made by La Presse in addressing diverse and relevant architectural concerns through its traditional print and groundbreaking electronic platforms, and bringing these views to the attention of the public. The investigative work of François Cardinal brings forward the importance of architectural and urban-quality criteria in public commissions and large-scale urban projects. The showcasing of contemporary domestic architecture and architects in Lavigne’s video reports is also noteworthy. The incorporation of writing, photographs and video showcased in the diverse reports prepared by both journalists shows that the subject of architecture is well-suited to digital formats.