The Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage of ESG UQAM awards the 2012 Phyllis Lambert Prize to Elsa Lam

The Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage of the École des sciences de la gestion de l’UQAM (ESG UQAM) has  awarded this year’s Phyllis Lambert Prize to Elsa Lam for her thesis “Wilderness: Building Canada’s Railway Landscape, 1885-1929,” defended at Columbia University (New York). She received the Prize in late May during a ceremony at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, which took place at Carleton University.

The jury unanimously recognized the value of Ms. Lam’s work and highlighted the “originality of the subject matter identified through a multidimensional approach inspired by the concept of cultural landscape; the great variety of sources; the quality of the examination of records; and the great precision of the writing.”

The thesis shows how the Canadian Pacific Railway Company conceived their railway infrastructure and travelled landscapes as an aesthetic project. The candidate successively explores the role played by big hotels, prefabricated farms, bungalow camps, and Native American festivals in the construction of an imaginary “wilderness nation” between 1885 and 1929.

The Phyllis Lambert Prize includes a $1,500 scholarship offered by the UQAM Foundation; the Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage also covers the winner’s travel and accommodation expenses for the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada.

Every year, the Chair awards the Phyllis Lambert Prize to the candidate who submitted the best doctoral or master’s thesis on the history of architecture in Canada according to an independent jury. This year’s jury members were professors Marc Grignon from Université de Montréal’s Department of History and Martin Bressani of McGill University’s School of Architecture. The jury was presided by Lucie K. Morisset, a professor from the Département d’études urbaines et touristiques de l’ESG UQAM. 

The prize commemorates architect Phyllis Lambert, the guardian spirit of architectural conservation and founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), a Montreal-based institution recognized the world over for its commitment to the struggle to maintain a high quality built landscape. She made history when she was the director of planning for New York City’s Seagram Building (1954-58). She has since been recognized by the international community for her contribution to the advancement of contemporary architecture and her defense of the social aspects of urban heritage conservation and the public dimension of architecture. 

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