Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

220 × 171 × 24 mm
320 pages
210 illustrations
01 Sep 2016
Modern Architectures in History
  • £25.00

  • This edition is currently unavailable

Canada Modern Architectures in History Michelangelo Sabatino, Rhodri Windsor Liscombe

‘We shall demand of our architects a sensitive interpretation of society’s needs as well as the eloquent architectural statement’, appealed Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1972. Architecture in Canada has been fashioned by the nation’s immense size, as well as its concentrated and diverse geography and demography. This richly informative history reveals how the country has contributed in no small measure to the spread of architectural modernity in the Americas and beyond.

During the twentieth century, a distinct Canadian design attitude coalesced: a liberal, hybrid, pragmatic mindset intent less upon the dogma of architectural language than on thinking about the formation of inclusive spaces and places. Taking a fresh perspective on design production and its context, Canada maps the unfolding of architectural modernity across the country, from the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1886–87 to the tumultuous interwar decades, the period of Reconstruction post-1945, and the politically conflicted era of the late 1960s and ’70s. It also examines the broad pattern of Canadian political, industrial and socio-cultural evolution, urban–suburban expansion, and the technology of building. A wide array of buildings and architects, from ARCOP, Eric Arthur and Ernest Cormier, to Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe, helps to bring to life this chronologically and thematically driven story. Canada is a unique critical account of modern and contemporary architecture in a country once defined by Voltaire as ‘a few acres of snow’.

‘Canada is an extremely large and diverse geographical area inhabited by a relatively small but overwhelmingly urban population. Rhodri Windsor Liscombes and Michelangelo Sabatinos excellent narration of modernisms impact on the development of Canada, and Canadian architecture, from 1886 to the present (virtually the entire history of Canada as a country) describes the evolution of an architecture that, at its best, has become intensely urban without forgetting its connection to the natural world.’ — John Patkau, Principal, Patkau Architects

‘This book views Canadian, modern architectural history in terms of its underlying social, political and economic forces. Through its focus on public buildings, and by extension public life, it reflects Canadas social democratic traditions. This communitarian ethic distinguishes us from our US neighbours to the south. It stems from the mixing of our founding Aboriginal, French and British cultures and their respect for our vast and often intimidating natural landscape and climate.’ — Brian MacKay-Lyons, Partner, McKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects and Professor at Dalhousie University, Halifax

‘Can any country really have a national architectural vernacular? Recognising the complexity of this issue, the authors of this book limit themselves to examining the “forms and consequences of modern architecture”. Each chapter is “framed chronologically around a theoretically informed approach to historical analysis‘, wih recurring themes from “dwelling” to the ambiguous “recreating”. These are useful pointers to help us navigate what is a dense academic text, although there is entertainment as well as enlightenment along the way’ — C20 Magazine

‘Canada tends to present itself as a homogeneous territory marked by sublime landscapes, but in truth it is highly diverse culturally, and from a socioeconomic angle what most characterizes the country is the size, density, and essentially modern nature of its cities. Showing this modernity in the light of architecture is the purpose of a conscientious and dense book that tells the history of architecture in Canada from 1886 to the present, a course coinciding with the history of the nation itself. The result is an account where architects and their works are explained from a cultural angle, with room for political transformations, economic development, and changes in consumer habits’ — Arquitectura Viva

Show all

Michelangelo Sabatino is Professor and Director of the PhD Programme in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is the author of Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2011) and co-editor of Arthur Erickson: Layered Landscapes (2013).

Rhodri Windsor Liscombe is Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia. His books include The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver, 1938–1963 (1998) and Architecture and the Canadian Fabric (2011).


one Modernity in Canada, 1886–1914

two Modernizing the Dominion, 1914–45

three Modernism and Reconstruction, 1945–67

four Modernism with a Punch, 1945–67

five Questioning Modernism, 1967–86

six Regenerative Modernism, 1986 to the Present

seven Canada’s Modernist Legacy




Photo Acknowledgements