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The School with John Bland: 1960s

One of John Bland's appointments in the early sixties was Maureen Anderson, who eventually became the Administrative Assistant, and who has been in charge of administrative affairs ever since. Her sensitivity and loyalty have made her an invaluable counsel to members of staff and students alike. In 1980, Maureen Anderson was made Honorary member of the Architectural Undergraduate Society of McGill University, an honor bestowed sincerely. For graduate students, who often come from far away countries with a different culture, she became a compassionate and trusted friend and their gratitude is evidenced by their continued contact with her after the completion of their studies at McGill. On a personal note, the author is deeply indebted to Maureen Anderson for her counsel and editorial skills which she so generously offers; the publication of numerous articles and manuscripts, including this article describing the history of the School, reflects her contribution.

Douglas Shadbolt's tenure at McGill lasted only three years. In 1961 he was invited to organize a new school of architecture at the Nova Scotia Technical College in Halifax - a task that he was asked to repeat a decade later when it was decided to establish a school of architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa.

The year Shadbolt left, upper year students of the McGill School of Architecture published an article entitled Time for Stock-Taking in the Journal of the R.A.I.C. The editors of this article, George Pollowy (B. Arch.'62), Morris Charney (B. Arch.'62) and Moshe Safdie (B.Arch.'61) had sent out questionnaires the summer before to all McGill graduates asking them to state their professional position and experience, appraise their education and give personal advice to students." Since the students found the responses to these questionnaires to be both "conflicting and ambiguous," they settled for a kaleidoscopic sampling of work done by graduates and drew attention to general concerns of the time, such as the consumerism of the privileged, the need for low-income housing, vehicular traffic problems, urban core deterioration, urban sprawl, and "the rape of the land." Their attitude towards education at the School was realistic by accepting the fact that "schools cannot hope to give the student all the knowledge he will need in practice."51'

In 1961 Bland appointed two design teachers, both recent recipients of a M.Arch. degree from McGill's graduate program: Jonas Lehrman, who received his undergraduate training at the A.A. School of Architecture in London, and Norbert Schoenauer, the author of this article, who previously studied architecture in Budapest and Copenhagen. In accordance with John Bland's principle of assigning the responsibility of design instruction to a single individual for each year, Lehrman was put in charge of fourth and Schoenauer of fifth year design, but a significant change was proposed by a coordinating committee (Wilson, Lehrman and Schoenauer), that is, to complement studio courses with building construction lectures in order to emphasize the close relationship betweer "good design " and "good building construction" and to extend students' design appreciation beyond the boundaries of aestheticism. Bland approved the proposal and Design and Construction I, II, and III, replaced Building Construction and Design, Class A, and B; D + C became the popular name of these new courses.

Also during the early sixties, the M. Arch. program was expanded to include Housing Design (Lehrman and Schoenauer) in addition to the existing programs of Architectural Design (Bland) and Planning (SpenceSales).

An accomplished artist and art teacher, Gentile Tondino, joined the School in 1961. Tondino, who taught with Lismer at the Museum of Fine Arts, was appointed Sessional Lecturer in charge of Freehand Drawing courses, and after Gordon Webber's death, replaced him in the yearly Sketching School.

Gordon Webber had died suddenly of a heart attack in 1965, but having bequeathed his eyes for transplant, his eyes lived on. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes strewn in the "hollow" in the campus. With the exception of his paintings, all his material possessions were left to the School to provide aid for needy students."

Leslie Doelle (M.Arch.'64), Seymore Levine and Arthur Mendel were appointed Sessional Lecturers in 1964 and taught Acoustics, Mechanical Services and Electrical Services respectively. These service courses had previously been given by the staff of the Faculty of Engineering, but with increased specialization in the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Departments the younger staff members were no longer interested in building service courses. However, the close link with structural engineering continued unaltered, and to this day required courses such as Statics, Surveying, Strength of Materials, Soil Mechanics and Foundations, Structural Steel and Timber Design Reinforced Concrete Design and Structures are given to architectural students by members of the Civil Engineering Department.

During the second half of the sixties, three teachers joined the staff who were destined to play an important role in the School during the seventies and eighties.

First, Derek Drummond (B. Arch.'62) was appointed in 1965 initially assisting Stuart Wilson in Design and Construction I. Two years later, he also took charge of Graphics and Design Elements, an introductory course for second year students, and by the end of the sixties, Bland appointed Drummond Assistant Director of the School with responsibility for student affairs and admissions.

Second, Radoslav Zuk (B. Arch.'56), while on leave from the University of Manitoba was asked to assist in 6th year "Design" while Lehrman was ill. In the following year he received a full-time appointment replacing Lehrman who left the School to teach at the School of Architecture in Winnipeg. Third, Bruce Anderson (B. Arch.'64) joined the staff in 1966 shortly after returning from graduate studies at Harvard University. In fact, he had already taught a course in History of Architecture during the fall semester of 1964 while Collins was on leave at Smith College, but when Anderson returned to the School he developed a new course called Communication, Behaviour and Architecture which was to replace Webber's Elements of Design, but with expanded content and organized as a course where visual communication skills in drawing, model-making, and photography were taught parallel to the D + C courses. The photo laboratory established by Anderson occupied the second floor of the McConnell wing of the School and became an important resource center with a most sophisticated equipment serving later as a model for other schools to follow.

To strengthen links with the profession, Bland appointed three distinguished practicing architects as visiting professors in 1966: John C. Parkin, Harry Mayerovitch (B. Arch.'33) and Victor Prus. Visiting professors were resource persons invited to "design crits" not only to evaluate students' designs, but also to share their experiences with the students. The following year Ray Affleck became a visiting professor, followed by Fred Lebensold, Andre Vecsei (M.Arch.'77) and John Burchard, and thereafter by Thomas Blood, Moshe Safdie and Ronald Williams (B.Arch.'64).

Gavin Scott (B.Arch.'62) was appointed lecturer in 1967 and assisted Wilson in third year design. Two years later he became an Assistant Professor, but in 1972 he resigned to pursue post-graduate studies at the Universite' de Montreal.

In the late sixties, when the so called Baby Boom generation reached adolescence, new provincial legislation on education was introduced with the objective of creating a unified and democratic secondary and post-secondary school system accessible to the entire population of Quebec. This scholastic reform not only entailed the administration of the parallel systems (Catholic and Protestant) by a Department of Education, but also the creation of community colleges or CEGEPs (Colleges d'enseignement general et professionnel) with a two year course as a preparatory stage for university education, or a three year course leading to a diploma. The two year CEGEP preparatory course for university education replaced the first two years of architectural education which meant that the previous six year course now became a four year program. Moreover, since a university degree had to be attainable after three years of study the School implemented an intermediate non-professional degree known as B.Sc.Arch. Approved during the 1968/69 session, this degree became for the McGill students a prerequisite for entry to the fourth year (transfer students with equivalent academic background could be admitted to the third year, but were not eligible for the intermediate degree) leading to the professional degree of B.Arch.

The late sixties were turbulent years for all North American universities and McGill was not an exception. Students demanded throughout the university representation on all faculty meetings and committees, a request that was granted. At the School, dissatisfaction with some aspects of the curriculum led to a short boycott of classes, but in comparison with the confrontations at the Schools of Architecture of Columbia and Yale Universities, this was a minor event. Nevertheless, this student unrest led to the establishment of a jointg staff-student advisory committee which deliberated on the expansion of optional courses and future development of architectural education. This was also a time at the School when every course was scrutinized as to its "relevance" to contemporary architecture; for example, the teaching of history of "slave based" Greek and Roman architecture was questioned. While several other architectural schools gave in to the demand to eliminate the teaching of history, or at least to make it optional, McGill's School to its credit stood firm on the issue of mandatory education in history.

A greater awareness of contemporary social issues, however, was not neglected by Bland and led to the establishment of the graduate Minimum Cost Housing program chaired by Alvaro Ortega (B.Arch.'44), a Colombian architect who was on a three year leave (later extended to four) from his post as Interregional Advisor to the Center for Human Settlements of the United Nations. Funded by a C.M.H.C. grant, graduate students were enabled to study and research means to alleviate the overwhelming housing conditions of Third World countries. A series of publications by Ortega and his students, such as The Problem Is, The Ecol Operation: Ecology + Building + Common Sense, Stop the Five Gallon Flush and Use it again, Sam, received wide circulation and ensured the continuation of this program beyond the initial years of C.M.H.C funding. Eventually this program evolved into the Centre for Minimum Cost Housing where graduate students participate in funded field research while completing their studies under the guidance of Witold Rybczynski (B.Arch.'66, M.Arch.'72) and Vikram Bhatt (M.Arch.'75), both graduates of this program.

Another course addressing housing issues of the underprivileged, was the Community Design Workshop initiated by Joseph Baker who joined the staff in 1968, after having been a visiting professor the year before. Trained at the School of Architecture of Victoria University in Manchester (the school established by Capper) and with architectural experience gained in Toronto and Montreal, Baker first taught Design in fifth year, and later introduced Community Design Workshop, an optional course for fifth and sixth year students. Based on the model of the legal and medical clinics established in low-income communities, the aim of these workshops was to provide architectural services to community groups, to demonstrate to students the political, administrative and financial constraints imposed upon a real project. Field offices with four to five students each were opened in Griffintown, Mile End, Verdun, Pointe St. Charles and Milton Park, and the groups were expected to carry out the bulk of their work for the course in these offices. Funding for this experimental design teaching program was received from the Principal's Discretionary Fund, the McGill Centre for Learning and Development, the Parish of the Ascension of our Lord in Westmount, and the Westmount Rotary Club. After Baker was invited in 1975 to head the Laval School of Architecture in Quebec City, the program continued in a modified way. Warren Chalk, founding member of the Archigram Group, joined the staff as a visiting Professor in 1970 and replaced the author while on sabbatical leave; he conducted another fifth year design studio which reflected Archigram's tenets by exploring the potentials of technology applied to a futuristic architecture. He returned to the A.A. School of Architecture in 1973.

In 1970 Bland appointed Roy LeMoyne (B.Arch. '51) Auxiliary Professor, to teach Professional Practice and Specifications. A practising architect with a wealth of experience in running an architectural office, LeMoyne also served many years on the examination board of the architectural association and was an authority on the laws governing professional practice. His lectures were informative, concise and illustrated with numerous case studies.

After Spence-Sales retired, the post graduate planning program was reorganized by David Farley (B.Arch.'59). Farley had graduated in Urban Design and Town Planning from the Graduate School of Design of Han-ard University and after practising and teaching in New York and Boston, was invited to return to Montreal to establish an accredited program in Urban Planning at McGill.

The last few years of Bland's tenure involved the transition from a six year course with year-end exams to a post-CEGEP eight term course (representing only four years) and based on a new system with "course credit promotion" of students at the end of each term.