Facilities

The School operates a number of important auxiliary facilities that include workshops, research labs and other resources that support teaching and learning, and research in the School of Architecture.

Auxiliary facilities include a number of non-classroom and non-studio resources: the workshopmedia centre (which includes, in addition to resources for digital work, a small darkroom with facilities for film processing and wet photography), the computer labs, and three separate research labs under the supervision of Professors Jemtrud, Sijpkes and Sprecher.

Information Resources

The Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art

The Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art houses the core research collections for the School of Architecture, the School of Urban Planning, and the Department of Art History & Communication Studies. The collection was established in the early 1920s with an endowment from the family of the late Gordon Home Blackader, an early graduate of the McGill School of Architecture whose death in World War I cut short a promising career. A second endowment was received in the 1940s from the family of Dinah Lauterman, in memory of the Montreal sculptor. The Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art is located within the Humanities & Social Sciences Library, one of thirteen branch libraries at McGill Library.

The Blackader-Lauterman Collection has grown particularly strong in the history of Byzantine and Medieval art, iconography, Italian Renaissance art and architecture, 17th and 18th century European architecture and Canadian architecture and planning. The holdings comprise over 79,000 monographs and active journal subscriptions. The collection’s rare books are housed in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), one of the finest university-based rare book collections in Canada. There are over 3000 monograph titles in the Blackader-Lauterman Rare Book collection ranging in date from 1511 to 2009 with a particular strength in Renaissance architectural treatises and iconography.The Architectural History and Theory Program’s Architectural History seminar is held in RBSC, and students use these rare materials as their primary working collection.

Summer 2010 saw a refurbishment and reorganization of the Blackader-Lauterman space, thanks to a gift from the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) Library Improvement Fund.

The John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection

As one of the McGill University Libraries' Special Collections, the John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection is an important resource for architecture and urban planning research. Its mandate is to document the work of architects who have studied and/or taught at the McGill University School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Through photographs, drawings, and corollary documentation, the CAC also seeks to represent the evolution of the McGill campus, the City of Montreal, and the architectural heritage of Quebec and Canada.

In addition to supporting the teaching and research requirements of the McGill Schools of Architecture and Urban Planning, the CAC staff assists other departments within McGill, as well as the architecture and art history departments in the region. The CAC also provides a service to practicing architects, art and architecture historians, and independent researchers.

The John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection was established by Professor Emeritus John Bland, Director of the McGill School of Architecture from 1941 to 1972. Since the inception, an effort has been made to document and publicize the CAC fonds through a series of published guides and more recently electronic publications and websites. Researchers interested in exploring the fonds held by the CAC are encouraged to use the general guide to the fonds available on-line at the CAC.

The CAC contains over seventy fonds and currently consists of over 157,240 drawings, 25,000 photographs and 11,780 slides, 190 models, 300 maps, 35 three-dimensional objects as well as 400 linear meters of related professional and personal papers of 19th and 20th century Canadian architects. Vertical files contain material on McGill buildings, and biographical information on Canadian architects. As well, the CAC serves as a repository for 770 student papers prepared in the last 30 years for the course History of Architecture in Canada. The CAC supports the teaching and research requirements of the McGill School of Architecture, and its material is used regularly as a teaching aid.

Students also use CAC material as the basis for their term projects. The CAC prepares its own exhibitions, loans material to museums and other qualified institutions, and sponsors public tours and lectures related to the archives.

The John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection has been awarded numerous important research, exhibition and publication grants from the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The CAC's most challenging initiative has been the acquisition, organization, description and digitization of the largest archive, representing the first half of Moshe Safdie's professional career. The archive currently consists of over 120,000 drawings, 120 sketchbooks, 190 models, 1,100 presentation boards, 360 linear meters of project and office files, 14,000 photographs, 4,625 slides and 190 units of audio-visual material. The project was supported by a three-year research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The close relationship with the School of Architecture is demonstrated by the continuous employment of students and alumni in all CAC special projects.

The Architecture Slide Library

The School's slide library is a rich resource for both teaching and research. The collection is approximately 40,000 images, including both lantern and 35 mm slides. It is organized by time period and geographical location, and then by architect (after 1800). All slides are fully labelled and safely stored in wooden and metal slide cabinets. The collection is accessible to faculty, and occasionally to graduate students with special permission.

In addition to its value as a teaching tool, the slide library is also an extraordinary source on the history of architectural education at McGill. Most of the lantern slides were taken by Ramsay Traquair, Director of the School from 1913-39. Many of these were transferred to 35 mm in the 1980s, in order to preserve the originals.

The bulk of the 35 mm slides, however, were taken by Peter Collins, who taught at McGill from 1956-81. Not surprisingly, the Collins slides reflect his special interests, particularly architecture in France about 1750, the development of reinforced concrete, and the evolution of Modernism. Since interest in Collins as a historic figure has skyrocketed in the past few years - the Canadian Centre for Architecture (IRHA) hosted a symposium on his legacy in October 1999 - we expect that these slides will become even more valuable, particularly those taken by him. The slide library includes images of his 1948 thesis project for a National Seminary, for example, as well as shots of the Panthéon he took to illustrated his now-famous notion of parallax, first published in 1962. Collins' papers are held in the Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC). For a lengthier discussion of Collins‚ slides, see Annmarie Adams, With the Precision Appropriate: Images from the Peter Collins Collection, ARQ (Architecture Québec) (October 1993), 18-19.

Since 1990, a number of additions have been made to the slide collection. These are stored individually, in order to preserve their autonomy as sets. These include a box of several hundred slides of Expo '67, a set of teaching slides on acoustics, and a set of lantern slides documenting early Canadian buildings and cities. Also, following expansion of our graduate programs in Housing, we acquired hundreds of new slides of domestic architecture around the world.

The personal slide collections of course instructors also constitute a major teaching resource in the School, numbering over 100,000, and reflect the broad research interests of the faculty. These are mostly stored in individual offices and are in constant use in course lectures and seminars.

  • Ricardo Castro's collection is the School's largest, with 50,000 images. Special subjects he has collected include the work of Salmona, Lewerentz, and Plezcnic; colonial architecture in Mexico and Colombia; pre-Columbian architecture; water and architecture.
  • Avi Friedman has special collections of housing projects and buildings under construction.
  • Alberto Pérez-Gómez' collection is particularly strong in European architecture, architectural theory, and images from treatises.
  • Bruce Anderson has images of domestic architecture in Quebec, the structure of cities, and architecture from 1450-1750.
  • Pieter Sijpkes has a collection of slides related to structures of all kinds.
  • David Covo maintains a collection of images of vernacular architecture in Europe and Asia, pre-Columbian architecture in Mexico, urban housing in China, and buildings under construction.
  • Annmarie Adams has collected images of vernacular architecture, work by women architects, and the history of hospitals. In addition to these special interests, all faculty members take slides for teaching while they are traveling.

In recent years, many faculty members have opted to use digital images in their courses, rather than traditional slides. Discussions are pending whether the entire slide library should be digitized, for which major funding would be required. The slide library is currently coordinated by Professor Annmarie Adams.

The Orson Wheeler Architectural Model Collection

This collection of scale models of over two hundred works of architecture from around the world is a unique treasure. Executed in permanently malleable Roma Plastilina, these models were created between 1940 and 1990 by the sculptor Orson Wheeler (1902-1990), who bequeathed the entire collection to the School of Architecture. The majority of the models are built at a scale of 1"=100', with a smaller number at 1"=16'. The curator of the collection is Professor Pieter Sijpkes, who maintains a selection of the models on display in the entrance lobby of the Macdonald-Harrington building.

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