Where are the best new buildings in Canada? The list of Governor-General’s Medals in Architecture, announced today, gives a strong set of answers to that question.
The 12 awards honour very simply “excellence in the art of architecture.” These days, that is a difficult thing to assess. Through digital media, the design world faces a daily fashion show of new buildings, seen quickly and out of context. The subtle attributes that make a good building don’t show up easily in this environment.
But these medals, which are awarded only every two years, offer a useful antidote. The jury has chosen buildings that are far more than visual one-liners. I think these five, in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, are notable for their careful urban design and public spirit: A bandstand and four public buildings, they are each designed to animate and enliven public spaces.
They are thoughtfully detailed, and use materials in creative ways, and they are also all rooted – as good buildings must be – in the places where they sit. And they strive to make those places better.
Centennial College Athletic and Wellness Centre, Toronto
Conversion of Mies van der Rohe gas station, Verdun, Que.
Raymond-Lévesque Public Library, Saint-Hubert, Que.
North Vancouver City Hall, North Vancouver, B.C.
OMS Stage, Winnipeg
> Joseph L. Rotman School of Management Expansion, University of Toronto
A boldly contemporary add-on to an academic building in a
> Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Waterloo, Ont.
An academic project that speaks to the community with a
quadrangle, a bell tower and a welcoming glass façade.
> 60 Richmond East Housing Co-operative, Toronto
Teeple Architects Inc.
A co-operative housing building with an unorthodox form and serious environmental ambitions.
> Bloor Gladstone Library, Toronto
Tyler Sharp of RDH Architects Inc.
A contemporary update and expansion of a 1913 library
> Tula House, Quadra Island, B.C.
Patkau Architects Inc.
A complex and highly detailed house built to sit quietly on a
> Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development, University of British Columbia
Saucier + Perrotte architectes / Hughes Condon Marler Architects
On UBC’s campus in Vancouver, a six-storey building that
combines a playful form of stacked blocks with subtle effects in glass.
> 2 O'Connor Drive, Toronto
Shim-Sutcliffe Architects Inc.
A highly refined building, on the edge of a ravine in Toronto, that allows an order of nuns to remain at home and receive medical care as they age.