Architecture plays a powerful role in nation building. Buildings and monuments not only constitute the built fabric of society, they reflect the intersection of culture, politics, economics, and aesthetics in distinct social settings and distinct times. From first contact to the postmodern city, this anthology traces the interaction between culture and politics as reflected in Canadian architecture and the infrastructure of ordinary life. Whether focusing on the construction of Parliament or exploring the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and Arthur Erickson, these highly original essays move beyond considerations of authorship and style to address cultural politics and insights from race and gender studies and from postcolonial and spatial theory.
Rhodri Windsor Liscombe is an associate dean of graduate studies and a professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.
Contributors: Geoffrey Carr, Richard Cavell, Marc Grignon, Laura Hourston Hanks, Réjean Legault, Judi Loach, Barry Magrill, Alan Marcus, Justin McGrail, Michael McMordie, Daniel Millette, Lucie Morisset, Nicholas Olsberg, Christopher Thomas, Michael Windover, and Sharon Vattay.
According to the editor’s conclusion, this study should “reinforce attention to Canadian architectural patrimony and demonstrate its significance for the international discourse and practice of design”. This work does succeed in doing so and also adds significantly to the body of literature on Canadian architecture. It is well researched and thoroughly documented. The analytical principles guiding the publication could be applied to other works, including further studies by this group of authors, covering more aspects of the architectural heritage of Canada.
The essays greatly advance the field of architectural history in Canada. Given the breadth on display, Canadian architects and historians surely will find items of interest and pertinence to their practice.
Broad in scope and filled with both insight and intriguing fact…this collection serves to entice a more sustained consideration of the relation between the messy realities of social practice and the production of this thing called architecture.