Canadian Centre for Architecture/Centre Canadien d'Architecture
Embracing modern and post-modern elements, the austere limestone building embodies long-standing interests of Lambert: the refined, classical modernism of her first mentor, Mies van der Rohe; Montréal's old greystone architecture and property divisions; and repair of the urban fabric.
Canadian Centre for Architecture/Centre Canadien d'ArchitectureCanadian Centre for Architecture/Centre Canadien d'Architecture, Montréal, a museum and study centre devoted to architecture, which houses one of the world's foremost collections of architectural drawings, books, photographs, and archival materials collected by its founder and first director, architect Phyllis LAMBERT. Designed by Peter ROSE with Lambert (consulting architect) and Erol Argun (associate architect), the building was constructed between 1985 and 1989. The design of the CCA, which incorporates the 1874 Shaughnessy House that Lambert saved from demolition and includes newly created gardens, was intended to rehabilitate a once gracious residential area scarred by expressways and highrises.
Embracing modern and post-modern elements, the austere limestone building embodies long-standing interests of Lambert: the refined, classical modernism of her first mentor, Mies van der Rohe; Montréal's old greystone architecture and property divisions; and repair of the urban fabric. The new building resembles an E, with Shaughnessy House serving as the centre bar. Two wings embrace the restored Victorian mansion, the western one containing an auditorium and the eastern one an atrium housing offices and research areas for scholars. The rounded ends of the wings acknowledge the twin bay windows of the mansion as do the CCA's rusticated base, classical detailing, and balanced composition. Modern, standardized aluminum elements form the cornice, which reinterprets the stone cornice of the old house and casts changing shadow patterns over the masonry walls.
The main entrance, in the long, north-facing facade that forms the straight edge of the E, opens into a grand stairhall that leads to the public spaces located on the first floor: exhibition galleries, bookstore, and library. At ground level are curatorial offices, and below are two floors of vaults. Construction materials are local and meticulously handled: notably Trenton limestone from Québec, Canadian maple, and Alcan aluminum. Skylights allow carefully controlled natural light to bathe the interior.
In the spring of 1999 Lambert retired as director of the CCA and was succeeded by the Swiss-born scholar Kurt W. Forster, who had served as founding director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Los Angeles. Nicholas Olsberg, formerly head of collections at CCA, held the position of director from 2001-04, followed by architect, professor and author Mirko Zardini in 2005. Phyllis Lambert continues as chair of the board of trustees and as a member of the acquisitions committee.
Larry Richards, ed, Canadian Centre for Architecture/Centre Canadien d'Architecture: Building and Gardens (1989).