Álvaro Siza donates architectural archive to the Canadian Centre for Architecture

By Staff Canadian Architect
July 27, 2014, Canadian Architect

Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, recipient of the Pritzker Prize,has donated a large part of his architectural archive to the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal (CCA). In a recent statement, Siza announced his decision to place the material in the care of the CCA in order to foster discussion and dialogue in a research-oriented context. As one of the world’s foremost international architecture collections, the CCA offers a unique environment dedicated to the study and presentation of architectural thought and practice.

Álvaro Siza’s work can be studied in the context of the international archives of Peter Eisenman, Arthur Erickson, John Hejduk, Gordon Matta-Clark, Cedric Price, Aldo Rossi, James Stirling, as well as Pierre Jeanneret, Abalos & Herreros, Foreign Office Architects, and others housed at the CCA.

CCA Director Mirko Zardini states, “The CCA is thrilled to accept this generous donation. I have known Álvaro Siza and followed his work closely for several decades. His architecture escapes easy classification, but always offers a lesson – a new way of seeing the world around us. His buildings have a distinct character and particular relationship to their urban or natural settings, always born from the desire to participate in the world. Siza’s drawings and sketches reflect his ability to capture the essence of a place through careful observation. No matter in which country he works, the finished buildings are always distinctly of the place as much as they are distinctly his. His vision on architecture and the city generates a new dialogue within the CCA collection.”  Read more…

Inside the $22M facelift for the Colonial Building

By The Canadian Press Posted
July 28, 2014, CBC News – Newfoundland & Labrador

There’s a good story behind the spectacular ceiling frescoes now brought back to full glory as part of a $22-million restoration of Newfoundland’s former legislature.

The intricate patterns that embellish twin chambers where elected and appointed officials once governed the British colony turned dominion then Canadian province were painted by a Polish artist serving time for forgery.

NL Colonial Building 20140727
Restoration of the Colonial Building is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2015. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

It’s perhaps the least you’d expect from one of the most fabled buildings in St. John’s — a place that calls itself the City of Legends.

Jerry Dick, director of heritage for the provincial Tourism, Culture and Recreation Department, tells the tale of Alexander Pindikowski. The gifted artist wound up in Her Majesty’s Penitentiary for 15 months in 1880 after forging cheques.

Rather than have his talents go to waste, his sentence was partly commuted in exchange for creating resplendent ceiling murals at the Colonial Building and other prominent sites around the city.

“There are lots of interesting things about this building,” Dick said of the neoclassical structure that first opened in 1850. A triangular pediment dominates the exterior supported by six stone columns.

Project to be completed next year

The restoration to be finished by the fall of next year will transform the front lobby back to 1850 with faux marble and wood paint finishes considered among the finest of the day, Dick said.

Inside, the elected house of assembly and appointed legislative council chambers will be taken back to 1880 to showcase Pindikowski’s stunning handiwork.

“There will be the desks of the legislators and we plan to use this space for things like historical re-enactments,” Dick said. “We also see youth parliaments, debates and … even special sittings of the house of assembly.”

The storied site hasn’t functioned as a legislature since just before provincial politicians relocated to the Confederation Building in 1960. It served as the provincial archives until 2005 and has since been maintained but mostly empty.

The $22.3-million revamp is being largely funded by the province with the federal government contributing just over $9 million.

Escaping a riot

Dick clearly enjoys pointing out the building’s unique features. There’s the staircase down which former prime minister Richard Squires escaped on April 5, 1932 as a riot raged outside over suspected government corruption and mismanagement. Newspaper accounts described how Squires was chased by the crowd into a nearby residence from which he narrowly fled.  Read more…

Some Moncton architecture ‘not very fair’ to homeless

CBC News, New Brunswick
Jul 25, 2014

Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee says posts and similar structures are unwelcoming

Moncton residents are debating some architectural design elements along city streets that are intended to be so uncomfortable that it discourages people from loitering or sleeping in the area.

Decorative objects, such as posts, rivets and fences, can be found along Moncton streets and are designed to stop people from sitting on windowsills or laying on flowerbeds.

These design elements are not uncommon. In Montreal last month, anti-loitering spikes were installed with the intention of deterring people from sitting on a ledge along a sidewalk.

The controversial spikes were removed after Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre called them a “disgrace” and promised they would be taken away.

Some people refer to these posts, or spikes or fences as anti-homeless design or hostile architecture.
Ronnie LeBlanc spends a lot of his time in downtown Moncton and he said he feels these loitering deterrents are unfair.

“We’re not harming anyone sitting up there. We’re just sitting right? We’re having a coffee or a cigarette, or whatever. That’s it,” LeBlanc said.

It’s better than sitting right in the middle. Look at the bank over there with all these posts you can’t sit on at all. It’s not very fair.”

Sue Calhoun, a community development officer with the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, said posts and similar structures are unwelcoming. Read more…