September 2023


In our September Issue

Our September issue looks at a series of projects where craft and collaboration have resulted in exceptional results.

Toronto’s Ontario Court of Justice, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and NORR, is our cover story. In his review, Joe Lobko describes how an exceptional attention to detail resulted in a building that negotiates the rigorous security and logistical requirements for this building type, while creating a transparent, light-filled atmosphere to reflect Canada’s open court system.

David Down reviews the Aga Khan Garden (Nelson Byrd Landscape Architects) and its new pavilion, The Diwan (AXIA Design Associates, Arriz + Co., and Kasian). “It is rare in landscape architecture and architecture to find a successful fusion of the formal and informal, the natural and the ordered. Equally rare are contemporary interpretations of traditional forms which do not cross the line into kitsch,” writes Down. “The Aga Khan Garden and the Diwan achieve the balance beautifully, with designs that are rooted in ancient heritage while feeling completely comfortable in the contemporary Canadian landscape.”

On a smaller scale, we turn our attention to architectural historian Robert Jan Van Pelt and historian Miriam Greenbaum’s carefully crafted backyard library. Zaven Titizian documents how Paul Dowling Architects started a design-build firm to lead the project’s construction. “While some designers might pass off work to a contractor once the initial design is complete, for Paul, this is when ‘most of the invention begins—and it’s too interesting not to be involved in that part of the work,'” writes Titizian. The resulting building became part of the educational experience for several University of Waterloo students, who participated in the construction, and continues to create a teaching moment for young prospective architects.

The issue is bookended by an editorial on how a largely women-led team contributed to the enduring success of the Calgary Central Library, and by Hadani Ditmars’ account of an annual tour of West Vancouver’s modern and contemporary homes.

Finally, a reminder that the deadline to enter the Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence is quickly approaching. Monday, September 11 is the date by which to submit your design or construction-phase projects.

-Elsa Lam, editor