An interactive kaleidoscope of 50 colorful prisms hopes to entice winter exploration in Montreal

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014
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Prismatica. (Courtesy James Brittain)

Prismatica. (Courtesy James Brittain)

With 50 pivoting prisms, Toronto-based architecture firm RAW has transformed downtown Montreal into an interactive kaleidoscope. The installation, called Prismatica, is one of two winners selected in the city’s fifth annual Luminothérapie competition. This is the first time that a non-Quebec based firm has won the competition, so congrats to RAW.

COntinue reading after the jump.

Sturgess and RJC Soar with Glass Skywalk

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Sturgess Architecture, RJC, and PCL Construction Management crafted a gravity-defying walkway for Jasper National Park. (Courtesy Sturgess Architecture)

Sturgess Architecture, RJC, and PCL Construction Management crafted a gravity-defying walkway for Jasper National Park. (Robert Lemermeyer)

Parabola cantilever walkway delivers park visitors to the brink.

Concerned that visitors to Canada‘s national parks were becoming increasingly disengaged from both the experience of the outdoors and the reality of climate change, Parks Canada launched a search for private-sector initiatives to reverse the trend toward drive-through tourism. Brewster Travel Canada answered the call with a limited design competition for a walkable structure in Jasper National Park‘s Sunwapta Valley. “One of the bus drivers suggested that we do something over this particular gorge, Trickle Creek Canyon—something that could be suspended off the side of the mountain that brought visitors into a more intimate relationship with the Athabasca Glacier and its melting,” explained Sturgess Architecture principal Jeremy Sturgess. With design-build team lead PCL Construction Management and structural engineer Read Jones Christoffersen (RJC), Sturgess’ firm crafted a cantilevered walkway that, clad in weathering steel and glass, defers to its natural surroundings while providing breathtaking views of the glacier and valley floor. Though not a facade itself, Glacier Skywalk warrants discussion within the context of high-performance building envelopes for its innovative structure and streamlined approach to materials—the “+” in Facades+.

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KANVA’s Edison Residence Animates History

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The facade of KANVA's Edison Residence combines references to the site's history with an exploration of new technology. (Marc Cramer/v2com)

The facade of KANVA’s Edison Residence combines references to the site’s history with an exploration of new technology. (Marc Cramer/v2com)

Photoengraved concrete connects past and present in Montreal student housing.

Though the site on which KANVA‘s Edison Residence was recently constructed stood vacant for at least 50 years, its emptiness belied a more complicated history. Located on University Street just north of McGill University’s Milton gates, the student apartment building lies within one of Montreal‘s oldest neighborhoods. Photographs dating to the mid-19th century show a stone house on the lot, but by 1960 the building “had disappeared; it was erased,” said founding partner Rami Bebawi. Excavation revealed that the original house had burned to the ground. Prompted by the site’s history, as well as an interest in exploring cutting-edge concrete technology, the architects delivered a unique solution to the challenge of combining old and new: a photoengraved concrete facade featuring stills from Thomas Edison’s 1901 film of Montreal firefighters.

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Antoine Predock’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights Opens In Winnipeg

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, designed by Antoine Predock Architect, opened last Saturday. (Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, designed by Antoine Predock Architect, opened last Saturday. (Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP)

The Antoine Predock–designed Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg last Friday with a ceremony featuring an indigenous blessing, performances by Ginette Reno, The Tenors, Maria Aragon, and Sierra Noble, plus remarks by several Canadian government officials as well as representatives of the museum. Read More

Inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize goes to cliffside cube in Chile

Poli House, Chile (Cristobal Palma)

Poli House, Chile (Cristobal Palma)

After traveling all over the Western Hemisphere to inspect built work by emerging architects from Canada to Chile, a team of judges awarded the first-ever Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize on Tuesday, bestowing $25,000 and an offer to teach at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Mauricio Pezo and Sofia Von Ellrichshausen for their poetic Poli House, perched above the Pacific Ocean on a cliff in Tomé, Chile.

Continue reading after the jump.

Herzog & de Meuron Wins Bid For First Canadian Project at the Vancouver Art Gallery

(Courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery)

Site of the new facility to be designed by Herzog & de Meuron. (Courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery)

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(Courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery)

Herzog & de Meuron will be designing the new Vancouver Art Gallery. The plan will double the size of the 300,000 square foot existing institution.The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be the Swiss firm’s first Canadian project.

HdM was selected out of the shortlist that consisted of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York), KPMB Architects (Toronto), and SANAA (Tokyo). The finalists, announced in January, were chosen out of 75 firms from 16 countries who submitted to an open Request for Qualifications process issued by the gallery.

Conceptual designs are expected to be revealed in early 2015.

Robson Redux Competition Brings a New Summer Plaza to Vancouver

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2014 Entry into Robson Redux (Courtesy VIVA Vancouver)

For the fourth year running, Robson Street in downtown Vancouver will play host to a public art project designed to enhance people’s connection to one another and people’s connection to the space. The brief for “Robson Redux “entails transforming a street that acts largely as a pedestrian thoroughfare into something more akin to a plaza or city square for the coming summer months. On today, April 15th, a jury will select one of the 79 entries to build and install in time for Canada Day (July 1st for those not in the know).

Past winners after the jump.

Canadian Artist Creates Interactive Wall That Moves As You Walk By

The HEXI Wall in Action (Courtesy thibautsld.com)

The HEXI Wall in Action (Courtesy thibautsld.com)

Canadian graphic designer, Thibaut Sld., has created an interactive wall that responds to human presence. The impressive installation—which is equal parts CGI and home design—is known as HEXI and is comprised of 60 mounted modules that work in-sync with motion detectors to track, and then mirror, a person’s movement along the wall. So, essentially, when a person near the wall moves, the wall moves with them. Brave new world.

Watch the video after the jump.

A Transparent Cathedral Addition by architectsAlliance

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The architects designed a transparent addition to the St. James Cathedral's 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

The architects designed a glass addition to the St. James Cathedral’s 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

A renovation and addition bring an historic church complex into the 21st century.

The Diocese of Toronto approached architectsAlliance (aA) about renovating the St. James Cathedral Centre with two objectives in mind. On a practical level, they wanted more space for the cathedral’s outreach program and the Diocesan archives, as well as quarters for the Dean of the Cathedral and visitors. At the same time, the Anglican leadership wanted to make a statement about the Church’s relevance to contemporary Canadian society. “The idea of the addition was to convey an image of the Church itself as a kind of more open institution, much more transparent and contemporary,” said aA’s Rob Cadeau. “[It was] really driven by the dean, who wanted to refresh the image of the Church.” Read More

Boston Valley Brings a 100-Year-Old Dome into the Digital Age

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BOSTON VALLEY FABRICATED 18,841 INDIVIDUAL TERRA COTTA COMPONENTS FOR THE RESTORATION PROJECT (BOSTON VALLEY TERRA COTTA)

BOSTON VALLEY FABRICATED 18,841 INDIVIDUAL TERRA COTTA COMPONENTS FOR THE RESTORATION PROJECT (BOSTON VALLEY TERRA COTTA)

Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored the Alberta Legislature Building’s century-old dome using a combination of digital and traditional techniques.

Restoring a century-old terra cotta dome without blueprints would be a painstaking process in any conditions. Add long snowy winters and an aggressive freeze/thaw cycle, and things start to get really interesting. For their reconstruction of the Alberta Legislature Building dome, the craftsmen at Boston Valley Terra Cotta had a lot to think about, from developing a formula for a clay that would stand up to Edmonton’s swings in temperatures, to organizing just-in-time delivery of 18,841 components. Their answer? Technology. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Omar Khan at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Orchard Park, New York, firm’s employees are as comfortable with computers as they are with hand tools.

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Perkins+Will Canada’s VanDusen Gardens Orchid

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Friday, November 22, 2013
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StructureCraft fabricated 71 timber roofing panels for Canada's first Living Building Challenge-targeted new construction project. (Nic Lehoux)

StructureCraft fabricated 71 modular roofing panels from timber for a Living Building Challenge-targeted new construction project. (Nic Lehoux)

StructureCraft fabricates an orchid-shaped roof that supports vegetation and Living Building Challenge principles.

After serving patrons at one of Vancouver’s oldest botanical gardens for nearly 100 years, the VanDusen Gardens Visitors Centre had fallen dangerously into disrepair. Perkins+Will Canada conceived of a new, orchid-shaped center that meets CaGBC’s LEED Platinum ratings, and is the country’s first structure to target the International Living Building Challenge with features like geothermal boreholes, a 75-square meter photovoltaic array, and a timber roof that supports vegetation. To help fabricate the wooden structure to Perkins + Will Canada’s vision, the team contracted StructureCraft, a Vancouver-based design-build studio specializing in timber craftsmanship and structural solutions.

Initial designs for the 19,000-square-foot building were delivered to StructureCraft as Rhino files. The uniquely shaped rooftop, which mimics an outline of the indigenous British Columbia orchid, had to be economically fabricated in a way that took net carbon effects into account. Within Rhino plugins—mainly Grasshopper—and with the help of strucutral engineers Fast + Epp, the StructureCraft team sliced the shape of the building into 71 long, curved panels of repeatable geometries. “Each curve is unique, so there’s a different radii for each beam,” said Lucas Epp, a structural engineer who worked on the project. “We optimized the global geometry of the roof so the radii of all the beams were in our fabrication tolerances but still achieved the architect’s desired aesthetic.” Read More

Inside Ball-Nogues Studio’s Canadian Vault

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Friday, August 2, 2013
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Ball-Nogues Studio engineered 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

Ball-Nogues Studio manipulated 930 reflective stainless steel spheres for a site-specific installation in Edmonton, Alberta. (Benjamin Ball)

In 2011, a major expansion to Edmonton, Alberta’s Quesnell Bridge generated an ongoing effort to enliven the landscape surrounding the overpass, which connects the northwest and southwest portions of Canada’s fifth largest city. A resultant public art commission from the Edmonton Arts Council for Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design-build fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio called for an engaging installation along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, which sees a live load of 120,000 vehicles each day.

While brainstorming the project, it was apparent to the firm’s principal and designer in charge Benjamin Ball that the areas immediately surrounding the bridge were not carefully considered by passengers. “It was a sort of no-man’s-land between the transportation infrastructure and the landscape,” he recently told AN. Drawing inspiration from the mundane—sand piles, gravel, and detritus from the trucking industry—and the majestic—talus and scree formations enveloping the base of surrounding cliffs—Ball and the studio’s cofounder Nogues applied their knowledge of sphere packing to echo the angle of repose of natural and man-made mounds. Read More

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