The School with John Bland: 1950s
Commencing with the session 1949/50, training in architecture was changed from a compulsory preenglneenng year in the Facultv of Arts and Science to 5 years in the school of Architecture to 6 years in the School. This reorganization was initiated by the Faculty of Engineering, and the School 'followed suit with 1st and 2nd year students following basically the same courses as Engineering students, the only exception being an additional course, Architectural Drawing and Elements of Design, for architects in second year.
The early 1950's saw the addition of three new teachers, Hazen Sise, Guy Desbarats, and John Schreiber. Sise was assigned the teaching of History of Modern Architecture and Architectural Report; Guy Desbarats was asked to teach Design in 5th year as well as a special applied building technology course; and John Schreiber was given the task of teaching drawing in 2nd year, and the 4th year Design studio. The policy of part time appointments continued in the fifties as exemplified by the '52/'53 academic year when Maxwell C. Baker, Watson Balharrie, L. Austin Johnson, David F. Lebensold, Arthur Lismer, Anne Luke Marien (B.Arch.'48), Vincent J. Rother, Hazen Sise and Gordon Webber were listed in the calendar as sessional lecturers. Several of these teachers were engaged in the practice of the profession of architecture and they brought with them a wealth of practical experience which complemented theoretical studies. Hazen Edward Sise was born in 006 in Montreal. He attended the Selwyn House School in Montreal, Bishop's College in Lennoxville, and the Royal Military College in Kingston before entering the School of Architecture of McGill University. After two years of study at McGill (1925-27), he transferred to M.I.T. in Cambridge where he graduated in 1929.
After graduation, he went to London, England, to do post-graduate studies in architecture and town planning, but when the Spanish Civil War broke out he joined the Canadian Blood Transfusion Unit attached to the "Loyalists" and worked with Dr. Norman Bethune, often driving a Red Cross Ambulance. Returning to Canada just before the beginning of World War II, he joined the Staff of the National Film Board of Canada serving first in Ottawa and later in Washington, D.C. After the war he was invited by Bland to give lectures in architectural history at the School.
Hazen Sise was a compassionate man, an outspoken advocate of social justice and a faithful follower of the modern movement. He worked for a short while in Le Corbusier's atelier and attended several C.I.A.M. (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne) meetings.
In Montreal, he was an active member of the city's Parks and Playgrounds Association, contributing to the restoration and preservation of urban open spaces; for example, he designed the Beaver Lake Pavillion in collaboration with Guy Desbarats (B.Arch.'48).
Guy Desbarats was born in 1925 in Montreal. After a College Classique education in Montreal, he entered the McGill School of Architecture and graduated with a B.Arch. degree in 1948. He was also a gifted designer, and his house design entry (with Fred Lebensold) won first prize in the Canadian Home Journal competition in 1953. (R. T. Affleck and V. Prus placed second in the same competition.) Desbarats joined the School in 1952 as a Research Assistant and the following year was appointed Sessional Lecturer. He taught design as well as a practical extension course in building construction complementing Wilson's course. In this special course, students were instructed together with students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts at the Laboratories of the Montreal Building Trades Training Centre at 5205 Parthenais Street of which Desbarats was named co-director. This training centre was organized in accordance with principles set forth by Howard T. Fisher, a Chicago architect, who had lectured at McGill during February and March 1953. Three years later Richard Buckminster Fuller was invited to conduct a project involving the design of a geodesic dome which was then erected at the training centre by the students.
Engaged in private practice and also a founding member of Arcop, Desbarats resigned from the School in 1958. In the 1960's, however, Guy Desbarats was asked to organize a new school of architecture to replace the existing Beaux Arts School. He became the director of this new School of Architecture at the Universite' de Montreal and when the Institute d'Urbanism merged with the new School, he was elected Dean of the newly formed Faculte de l'Amenagement, a faculty which later also embraced landscape architecture, and industrial design. Several graduates of the McGill School are now teachers in this faculty: Leonard D. Warshaw (B. Arch.'55), Melvin Charney (B.Arch.'58), Jacques Derome (B.Arch.'61), Louis Pretty (B.Arch.'61), Lada Patricia Falta (B.Arch.'64, M.Arch.'72), Ronald F. Williams (B.Arch.'64), Pierre Larose (B~Arch.'64), Pierre L. Teasdale (B.Arch.'65), and Aurele Cardinal (B.Arch.'70).
John Schreiber was born in Poland in 1921. He received a baccalaureate from the Stefan Bathory Lyceum in Warsaw. Shortly after the German occupation, he fled his native country crossing through Hungary and France. He eventually reached England in 1940 and joined the Polish Navy under British Operational Command, attended the Naval College (Executive Branch) and served in the Navy throughout World War II. In 1946 he was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant and enrolled at the University of Glasgow to study Architecture. He graduated in 1951 with a B.Sc.(Arch.) degree, and emigrated to Canada the following year.
He worked for a short period for Philip Goodfellow (B.Arch.'47) and was appointed to the School the year after his arrival in Montreal. In 1957 he became Assistant Professor and nine years later Associate Professor, a position that he still retains. A C.M.H.C. Fellowship and a sabbatical leave in 1963 enabled him to study under Sasaki and to obtain a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University. Morris Charney (B. Arch.'62), who just returned from Harvard with an Urban Design Master's Degree, took over Schreiber's teaching assignments during his sabbatical leave.
From the outset of his teaching career, Schreiber complemented his academic activities with a small architectural practice which was later expanded to include planning and landscape architecture. A joint entry with Lebensold in the Alcan Architectural Competition received 3rd Prize, and joint entries in both the Quebec and Ontario Region of the National Housing Design Competition 1979 (with David Covo, B. Arch.'71; Norbert Schoenauer, M.Arch.'59; and Ron Williams, B. Arch.'64), received a Special Mention.
For Expo '67 Schreiber designed the Children's World at La Ronde and the landscape of the Atlantic Provinces Pavilion. He collaborated on the design for the roof garden of Place Bonaventure (1966) with Hideo Sasaki and Dawson DeMay, and designed the landscaping for Complex "C" (1969) of Cite Parlementaire and Jardin Grande Allee (1972), both in Quebec City. He was also a design consultant for the New Town of Fermont (1970-75) and more recently developed with Ron Williams the Master Plan for the Civic Centre of Sherbrooke( 1984).
As a designer with a flair for the appropriate use of natural building materials. Schreiber built residences in Quebec and Ontario. His former home at 520 Landsdowne Avenue in Westmount, and his present residence at 1167 St. Mark Street demonstrate his unusual ability to create exciting, spatial sequences in dwellings with, of course, much attention given to detail and the improvised use of discarded building elements and materials.
In 1973, Schreiber requested a part time status at the School to devote more time to his practice, but continued to lecture in Landscape Architecture annually publishing his students' assignments in booklet form, entitled first Landscape As I See It and then A Spirit of Place.
After Lebensold's resignation in 1955, Ray Affleck was placed in charge of 5th year design, a position which he retained for two-and-a-half years. Born in 1922 in Penticton, British Columbia, Raymond Tait Affleck was raised in Montreal where he had also received his architectural education, graduating in 1947 with Distinction. Following graduation, he travelled for a while in Europe and studied at the Federal Technical Institute in Zurich. After returning to Montreal, he did his indentureship with Vincent Rother and estalished a private practice in 1953. With Size, he designed the Post Office building in the Town of Mont Royal for which they received the Massey Medal and in 1955 he joined in the foundation of a partnership known by the acronym Arcop, which stood for architects' co-partnership. All six founding members of this distinguished Canadian firm, Ray Affleck, Guy Desbarats, Dimitri Dimakopoulos (B.Arch.'55), Fred Lebensold, Jean Michaud (B. Arch.'45) and Hazen Sise were either graduates, or teachers, or both of the McGill School of Architecture. And, when Arcop became associated with I.M. Pei and Partners for the design and construction of Place Ville Marie (1958-63) Affleck too resigned from the School to devote his full attention to their growing practice.
When Hazen Sise left the School, history courses in architecture were again taught by John Bland but now with the exception of Modern Architecture, he was assisted in three other courses: History of Classic, Byzantine and Medieval Architecture, History of 16th, 17th and 18th Century Architecture, and History of Residential Buildings, by Orson Wheeler, a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Sir George Willims University.
Orson Shorey Wheeler was born in 1902 in Barnston, Quebec. He studied at Bishop's University, attended the Royal Canadian Academy classes at Montreal, and continued his art education in New York City at the Cooper Union and the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design. After his return to Montreal he became a recognized sculptor and teacher. Always interested in architecture, Wheeler made several hundred comparative scale models of famous buildings of the World to illustrate the history or architecture. These "plastiline" models, some with a cut-away section to enable a view of the interior space, were marvelously instructive in the study of the relative scale famous monuments. As an Auxiliary Professor, Wheeler still lectures at the School, and his models of historical architectural achievements continue to inspire students.
A landmark in the teaching of history of architecture at McGill was in 1956 when Peter Collins was appointed. During his subsequent 25 year tenure at the School he taught History, of Architecture to a generation of students, and through his published works influenced countless others in their study of architecture. At McGill he established an international reputation as a peerless architectural historian and critic.
Peter Collins was born in 1920 in Leeds, England where he received his primary and secondary education. In 1936 he enrolled at the Leeds College of Art, but had to interrupt his studies at the outbreak of World War II. He joined the Yorkshire Hussars as a Trooper. After two years in the British Army, he became an Intelligence Officer and was stationed first in Palestine and Egypt, and later in Italy. Finally, with the rank of Captain, he was assigned to the General Staff of the War Office in London.
After his discharge, Collins returned to Leeds and obtained a Diploma in Architecture with Distinction in 1948. Following his graduation, he travelled in Switzerland and France, and eventually worked for Auguste Perret on the reconstruction of Le Havre.
In 1951 Collins returned to Great Britain and was appointed to lecture in Architecture at the University of Manchester where Capper, the first director of the McGill School, had founded the School of Architecture. In 1954 Collins published an essay on Jacques-Francois Blondel for which he received a Silver Medal from the R.I.B.A. He undertook graduate work under the supervision of Professor Cordingly at Manchester and upon completion of his thesis The Development of Architectural Theory in France in the Mid-eighteenth Century he graduated with an M.A. degree in 1955.
A Fulbright Travelling Scholarship and an appointment to lecture in Architectural History at Yale University brought him to North America and on one occasion, while visiting his wife's family in Ottawa. He stopped in Montreal and inquired from Bland whether there was an opening in the School to teach history. Sise, who taught History of Modern Architecture, had resigned the previous year, and Bland offered Collins a teaching position which he accepted.
Initially, Collins taught History of Classics, Byzantine and Medieval Architecture and History of 16th, 17th and 18th Century Architecture, but he reorganized the undergraduate courses as History and Theory of Architecture courses and took charge of them, with the exception of History of Architecture in Canada which was given by Bland.
Peter Collins complemented his teaching with an impressive publication record. Concrete, The Vision of a New Architecture earned him the Henry Florence Architectural Book Scholarship in 1960; it was translated to Italian under the title La Visione di una nuova architettura. Changing Ideals in Modern Architecture (1965), perhaps his best known book, was translated into Spanish with the title Los ideales de la arquitectura moderna. His last book, Architectural Judgement (1971) was written after he received a Master of Law degree from Queen's University.
Equally impressive was Collins' output of scores of articles and reviews which appeared in numerous architectural journals in North America and England. He was for a while the architectural correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, and editor of the SAH Journal (1967/68). He wrote the entry Architectural Theory for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and one of his essays was reprinted in Dr. Bissell's Centenary Anthology: A Century of Great Canadian Writing.
Collins was not only an eminent scholar, but also an exceptional teacher whose lectures were meticulously organized and well prepared. He exacted discipline and full attention from his students, and despite a strictness which was in the early 1970's an anathema to students in general, he was admired and liked by his own students. He conducted several summer schools in England, France, and Italy which were memorable experiences for those who attended because of his thorough knowledge of the architectural history of these countries. But above all, P.C. as he was affectionately known was an authority on French architecture and a guided tour through Paris with him was was an enlightened adventure.
During his tenure at McGill, he was often invited to lecture at other Universities. For example, he held a visiting professorship in 1964 at Smith College. Two years later he lectured at Cambridge University, became a Research Fellow atthe Yale University Law School in 1968, and in the late 70's lectured at the University of Cincinnati School of Architecture.
Fully and unpeccably bilingual, Collins was elected an honorary corresponding member of the societe' des architectes diplomes par le gouvernement of France and a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Peter Collins' death on June 7th, 1981, brought to a sudden end a brilliant career of a devoted teacher and a distinguished writer and critic.
During the winter term of the 1957/58 academic year, Affleck resigned from the School to devote more time to his practice and H.P. D. van Ginkel was asked to temporarily replace him. In the following year Douglas Shadbolt was appointed as a full-time Assistant Professor to teach the 5th year design studio.
In 1946 Douglas Shadbolt had enrolled as a second year student at the School but left two years later without graduating, and returned to the West Coast where he had been born. During his student days at McGill, he worked during the summer for Watson Balharrie in Ottawa, and while in Victoria for Sharp & Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Chas. L. Craig. He was invited to teach in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts of the University of Oregon in Eugene while completing his studies there, and in 1957 he graduated with a B.Arch. degree.
Shadbolt had gained experience in architectural offices not only on the West Coast but also in Boston where he worked for both Carl Koch and Associates as well as The Architects' Collaborative headed at that time by Walter Gropius. A very gifted designer and draftsman, Shadbolt was committed to demystifying design and teaching it in an organized way, stressing the importance of evaluating the building program as a first step in the design process and rejecting reconceived design solutions with emphasis on appearance rather than content. Most of all, he was a dedicated teacher with no private practice commitment who was readily available throughout the week to guide his fifth year students and consequently enjoyed great popularity. With Shadbolt's appointment, design studio teaching acquired a "full-time" status which set the standard for subsequent years.
During the late fifties, the Macdonald Engineering and Workman Building were no longer adequate to house the burgeoning engineering departments and through the munificence of J.W. McConnell, Senior Member of the Board of Governors of McGill University, an expansion of their physical space was planned near the Milton Street entrance of the campus which necessitated the demolition of the Victorian building that housed the School of Architecture. In January 1958, temporary quarters for the School were found in two town houses on McTavish Street and on Founders Day, October 3, 1958, the corner stone of the new building was laid by Chancellor R.E. Powell. Designed by Robert P. Flemming (B.Arch. '37) and John Roxburgh Smith the building was inaugurated on November 30th, 1959, by His Excellency Georges P. Vanier, Governor General of Canada, and the School moved into its designated place, the north-eastern wing of the new building.
Student enrollment during the 1959/60 academic year was essentially the same as it had been a decade earlier, namely, 136 compared to 133. Physical space rather than a lack of student applications limited further growth. But, during the following decade when an additional four stories were added to the McConnell Building, student numbers again were allowed to be increased.