ROMA XL Celebrates 40 Years of Waterloo’s Rome Program

ROMA XL exhibit. Photo by Waterloo Architecture.

This fall, the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture celebrated 40 years of its study abroad program to Rome. The celebration culminated in a school reunion, bringing together some 200 alumni and their families for a program of tours, dinners, and networking events in Rome. The festivities also included an exhibit of sketches by Waterloo Architecture Rome Program graduates, including Alison Brooks, Howard Sutcliffe and Lisa Rapoport, seen alongside photos of their built work.

In 1979, the University of Waterloo School of Architecture launched its Rome program in a dark, cramped studio on Vicolo Savelli, an alleyway near Piazza Navona. The program has since found a permanent home in Trastevere. Over 2,000 Canadian students have spent a term in Rome, learning from the city and its history.

Eric Haldenby surrounded by generations of Waterloo Architecture alumni. Photo by Howard Rideout.

“For forty years, participants in the Rome Program have explored the implications of modern architecture in Rome and have initiated student exchanges, exhibitions, symposia, research and design projects in collaboration with Italian architects and academics,” says the official program for the Italian gathering.

“This forty-year celebration is a reflection on the collective memory and experience of several generations of students, many of whom have joined the ranks of Canada’s most influential architects,” the text continues. “To understand why we are still in Rome after forty years, one must appreciate that it is a place outside time and trend: open, poetic, spiritual and inspiring.”

Photo by Howard Rideout.

“Professor Eric Haldenby, Director of the Waterloo School of Architecture from 1988 to 2013, was instrumental in the establishment of the Waterloo Rome Program, and has had a significant role in the education of those who have traveled to Italy over the past 40 years,” writes alumnus Howard Rideout. “His passion for and expertise of Roman history, which developed and evolved through his lifetime and academic career, are common threads that link the four decades of the program.”

Eric Haldenby lecture at the Roman Forum. Photo by Howard Rideout.

“Lorenzo Pignatti, who joined the academic team in 1981, imparted a uniquely Italian approach to understanding the city in all its complexity,” writes Rideout. “Together, they brought in talent from the faculty and alumni of the Waterloo School of Architecture, as well as inviting guests from around the world to participate in the program; thus, providing each group of students a unique perspective on studying abroad.”

Lorenzo Pignatti delivers a tour of the Campo Marzio. Photo by Howard Rideout.

For more images of the ROMA XL tour, visit Howard Rideout’s blog here.

For images of the ROMA XL exhibit in Toronto, visit this link.