The CCA presents Will Alsop: OCAD, an Urban Manifesto

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) presents the exhibition Will Alsop: OCAD, an Urban Manifesto, on view from June 12 until October 5, 2008. The exhibition features British architect Will Alsop’s preparatory work for the Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) in Toronto and reveals specifically the role of painting in his design process. The exhibition is organized by Howard Shubert, CCA Curator of Prints and Drawings.

Completed in 2004, OCAD’s Sharp Centre for Design was designed by Alsop Architects in collaboration with the Toronto-based firm Robbie/Young + Wright. The building is renowned for its so-called “tabletop” design, elevated nine storeys above ground level and balanced on brightly painted steel legs. Its colourful exterior and surprising floating form lend it a vibrant intensity that stands in stark contrast to the surrounding environment. Since completion, Alsop’s OCAD has become not only a popular icon but a catalyst inspiring the transformation and revitalization of Toronto’s urban spaces.

Presented in the CCA’s Octagonal Gallery, Will Alsop: OCAD, an Urban Manifesto presents the evolution of Alsop’s design for the building and reveals the nature of his collaboration and consultation with local communities as well as the construction process.

Featuring more than 50 objects, the exhibition includes a group of five paintings donated to the CCA by the architect, as well as preparatory drawings, early conceptual models, archival documents, and presentation material. Also on view are one of the exterior panels of the building, a photograph by Geoffrey James, and four films describing early design phases and documenting the construction process. Works are drawn from the CCA Collection with loans from the collections of Will Alsop and the Ontario College of Art & Design.

Will Alsop (b. 1947) studied at the Architectural Association in London and worked in the office of Cedric Price before establishing his own practice in 1981. His work is guided by the principle that architecture is both vehicle and symbol of social change and renewal. The philosophy extends from the design of individual buildings to broader principles of urbanism and city development. The formal inventiveness and technical variety of his work was recognized with the prestigious 2000 RIBA Stirling Prize for his design of the Peckham Library, London (1996-99). Other projects include the Ferry Terminal, Hamburg (1989-93), Cardiff Bay Visitor’s Centre, Wales (1990), and Htel du Dpartement des Bouches-du-Rhne, Marseille (1991-94).

Following the completion of OCAD, Will Alsop has developed additional projects in Toronto including the WESTside Lofts (2006) and designs for the Filmport complex and Kensington Market area.

Alsop was a professor of sculpture at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, and has held many other academic posts in Europe and North America. His paintings and sketches have been exhibited alongside his architectural projects in solo exhibitions at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, Cube Gallery, Manchester, the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and others.

The exhibition will be inaugurated with a Gallery Talk by curator Howard Shubert on June 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm, followed by a reception in the Shaughnessy House. Will Alsop presents a lecture on his work at the CCA in September 2008. Admission to both events is free. For additional information, please visit