Renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal awards collection to Carleton University

Internationally renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal has bestowed his entire collection from 1984 onwards of drawings, plans, files, 3D models and other information to Carleton University.

“I chose Carleton because of its outstanding school of architecture, its commitment to the arts and humanities, and particularly the exemplary professional and dedicated staff serving the Archives Department, especially Patti Harper and Lloyd Keane,” says Cardinal. “I am assured the collection will be properly preserved and my body of work will be able to be utilized by future generations of architects.”

Cardinal, who is an officer of the Order of Canada, is famous for his commitment to excellence and unique creative vision. He is renowned for developing a classic, organic approach to architecture and was designated a world master of contemporary architecture by the International Academy of Architecture.

“This collection will not only be valuable to the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism but also Aboriginal studies, commerce, public history, political science and heritage conservation at Carleton,” says Patti Harper, a department head of the archives and research collections at MacOdrum Library, where the collection is now housed. “When Douglas Cardinal’s office called to ask us if we were interested in his collection, we didn’t hesitate. Coming on the heels of the Jacob Siskind collection, we are absolutely delighted that he also chose to give this fabulous gift to Carleton.”

Says Stephen Fai, a professor of architecture: “His undulating forms and voluptuous spaces are immediately recognizable. Equally important to the history of architecture is the role he played in the development and application of digital technologies for the practice of architecture. With Carleton’s new PhD that focuses on the culture of practice in architecture, beginning in the fall of 2011, the acquisition of this collection couldn’t be more timely.”

Cardinal is also known for imbuing humanity into his work. “I have found that by placing the needs of the human being before the systems that modern man has created, we can ensure that the man is indeed served by these systems rather than becoming a slave to them. Through several projects undertaken by my firm and myself, I have demonstrated my dedication for working with people and improving the human condition.”

The collection includes valuable assets such as plans for the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Museum of the American Indian (Washington, DC), the First Nation University (Saskatchewan) and Oneida Casino Children’s and Elders Center (Verona, New York).

Other projects that Cardinal has worked on in his career include the Edmonton Space Science Centre which has since been renovated and rebranded as the Telus World of Science, the Leighton Artist Colony at the Banff Centre, the Provincial Building in Ponoka, Alberta, the Grande Prairie Regional College, St. Mary’s Church in Red Deer, Alberta, and Oujé-Bougoumou village, Oujé-Bougomou, Quebec, which won the UN award as UNESCO’s  Best Sustainable Community in 1998 and was featured as the “Village of the Future” in Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany.

In 1999, Cardinal was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the highest architectural honour presented to an individual in Canada, In 2009, he received a Gold Medal of the Union of Architects of Russia, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the design and building of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

The Cardinal collection pre-1984 is housed at the University of Calgary. Once the Carleton collection has been arranged and described it is hoped that the two collections can be linked virtually.