U Montreal gains new architecture-focused Canada Research Chair

This summer, Canada’s science minister, Kirsty Duncan, announced the results of this year’s Canada Research Chair Awards. Among the recipients is a new Chairholder in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations for Excellence, granted to Université de Montréal architecture professor Jean-Pierre Chupin.

Chupin’s position is the only  Tier 1 Chair in Canada dedicated to the study of contemporary architecture. It will help Chupin better define the attributes, parameters and criteria for recognizing quality in architecture and understanding how it can be advanced by current architectural practices. The other Chairs in the field of contemporary and heritage architecture include Christina Cameron (Tier 1, Université de Montréal), David Theodore (Tier 2, McGill University), and Ipek Tureli (Tier 2, McGill University).

For each Tier 1 Chair, the host institution receives $200,000 annually for seven years. For Tier 2 chairs, the institution receives $100,000 annually for five years, with an additional $20,000 annual research stipend for first-term Tier 2 Chairs.

Jean-Pierre Chupin

How do architectural experts and users perceive architectural quality? To what extent and through which criteria are these judgements made? Some insights may be gleaned from an in-depth review of buildings that have been awarded prizes or that have been selected by peer juries in Canada since the 1980s.

As part of his work as a Canada Research chair, Chupin will examine the ability of public buildings to meet the highest aspirations for quality. He will address how contemporary issues—including environmental, technological, economic and cultural considerations—have influenced the evaluation of architecture. His research considers awards and competitions as mediation devices: filters that help to identify exceptional buildings and to analyze them in a comparative way.

In addition to looking at expert judgments, his research also aims to better understand how people and communities live with highly-regarded architecture. He’ll be publishing previously unavailable data on building’s characteristics, design criteria, and qualities, and collecting qualitative judgments on them. Through these mechanisms, he aims to invite collaboration with disciplines such as sociology, political science and ethics to share in his investigation of the relationships between people and built environments.

A professor at the School of Architecture of the Faculty of Environmental Design at Université de Montréal, Jean-Pierre Chupin directed the university’s Research Chair on Competitions and Contemporary Practices in Architecture from 2012 to 2018. In 2002 he helped found the Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle (LEAP) at the Université de Montréal. The initiative, which studies architectural competitions, now includes 10 researchers from four Montreal universities as well as a dozen doctoral students and as many research assistants.

Chupin is founding director of the Canadian Competitions Catalogue, a comprehensive documentary database on architectural, landscape and urban design projects. A member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Ordre des Architectes du Québec, he is currently a member of the advisory committee on Québec’s architectural strategy.