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  1. Teaching and Learning
  2. Human Resources
  3. Student Achievements
  4. Staff Awards and Honours
  5. Research

Teaching and Learning

  • The Master of Architecture (Professional) and Master of Architecture (Post-professional) programs transformation was approved by the University and are in place for Fall 2009. As intended, there now exists the unique possibility of greater harmonization of research and teaching between the professional and post-professional programs in order to capitalize on existing strengths and to create a more economical and cohesive community between program offerings. This is accomplished by cross-listed seminars between the programs; greater communication and sharing of expertise between the two streams; and faculty members participating in all aspects of the School of Architecture’s academic offering.
  • The Master of Architecture (Professional) Directed Research option (60 credits) came online Fall 2009 and was in greater demand in the application process than expected. Applications increased significantly in both quantity and quality from within Canada and internationally. Its impact will be closely monitored over the next two years.
  • The Bachelor of Science degree program will be reviewed throughout 2009-10. The implementation plan and necessary approval process will be tabled and carried forth through the 2010-11 academic year. These curricular and program changes will be fully implemented in 2011-12.
  • The School of Architecture has taken a leading role in the formation of the “Institute of the Public Life of Arts and Ideas”. Professors Jemtrud and Castro served on the implementation and management committees respectively and Professor Castro is one of the inaugural Fellows on iPLAI.
  • The School (with the School of Urban Planning) received funding for five Schulich Fellows at $25,000 per student for PhD candidates.
  • The School established the Michael Fieldman Studio Enhancement Endowment. This is a key discretionary fund that supports the heart of the professional program for areas crucial to academic delivery but not funded through operating funds. It is an ideal model of significant and needed impact.

Human Resources

  • The Sheff Visiting Design Professorship had a very successful year. The School was able to hire two fulltime visiting professors for the Master of Architecture professional program: Cynthia Ottchen (Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam) for the Fall 2008 term, and Jody Beck (University of Pennsylvania) for the Winter 2009 term.
  • The inaugural year of the Planetary Society Visiting Professorship in Architecture with Torben Berns (PhD McGill 2002) has surpassed expectations. It is a 3-year appointment set to conclude June 2011.
  • The School continues to try to redress, where possible, the gender imbalance in the complement of full-time and part-time teachers. More than one-third of the approximately two dozen adjunct appointments are women, and approximately one-third of the teaching positions in the design studios are held by women. Women are also well-represented in the list of invited critics for design reviews, and on the list of speakers invited to present public lectures.

Student Achievements

  • Six students from the School of Architecture have won three of the top five awards for creating new home designs in devastated areas of New Orleans. Top architecture schools in North America were invited to submit original concepts to be judged on originality, innovation and sustainability, among other criteria, in the Billes Architecture Student Design Competition. McGill teams formed by U3 students Justin Boulanger and Ann Rodgers, Jessica Dan and Hamza Alhbian, and David Dworkind and Andrew Hruby were among the winners selected from the many entrants. Seven of the ten finalists in the competition were McGill teams, and student representatives from all seven finalist teams travelled to New Orleans for the awards ceremony on April 11, 2009. The jury's criteria included aesthetics, feasibility, use of green building techniques and materials, and cost. The aim was to generate a series of cutting-edge designs for single-family homes that could be built on empty lots in many of the still-devastated areas of New Orleans. Students were asked to design homes with one of four neighborhoods in mind: Uptown, Downtown, Gentilly/Lakeview, and New Orleans East. Each neighborhood came with its own set of criteria, such as setbacks, height restrictions, and lot sizes.
  • A third-year undergraduate McGill Architecture student has received a top award in the 2009 Lyceum Traveling Fellowship in Architecture competition. Traian Dima was awarded second prize for his winning project and will receive a $7,500 travel fellowship. The McGill submissions to the Lyceum competition were projects developed in the U3 studio sections of Profs. Tom Balaban, Howard Davies, and Robert Claiborne. The Lyceum Fellowship was established in 1985 to advance the development of the next generation of talent by creating a vehicle for stimulating perceptive reasoning and inspiring creative thought in architecture. Through a unique structure of design competition and prize winning travel grants it seeks to establish a dialogue through design among selected schools of architecture. The Lyceum Competition welcomes submissions from only 14 participating schools (McGill is the only Canadian school invited). This year's competition theme was "Making as a Way of Thinking: A Blacksmithing Studio at Penland, North Carolina." The 2009 jury chair and program author was Frank Harmon (FAIA), Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Marie-Gil Blanchette (M.Arch. 2008) has won one of four Canadian Architect 2008 Student Awards of Excellence. Her project Watercycle seeks to rethink water management specifically within the context of the city of Montreal. It attempts to create a link between the functional water treatment in the city - often invisible to the public eye - and the poetic celebration of water. This prototypical project treats snow, recycles residual grey water, and creates a new type of urban park. The spaces guide the visitor along a journey through which one discovers the process of filtration. Jury members Bing Thom, Siamak Hariri, and Christine Macy were effusive in their praise for Blanchette's project. Hariri wrote, "The beauty of this project is that the architect solves a very real problem." Macy characterized it as "sophisticated, forward-thinking and creative." And Thom commented, "This project speaks of how to adopt another perspective on waste, and how to make something beautiful out of it."
  • Third-year undergraduate student Erin Towsley had the design for her room - Un paysage se dissipant - built at the Ice Hotel in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier outside Quebec City. A total of 38 teams from McGill, UQAM, U de M, and Laval competed in the Concours Architecture Éphémère to have their designs realized in snow and ice, and a total of three rooms were built.
  • A team from the School was selected to participate in this year’s annual Student Design Charrette held November 7-11, 2008, hosted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH) in Washington DC. Led by Adjunct Professor Robert Claiborne, M1 students Ali Torabi, Jeff Ma, Valerie Buzaglo and Hamza Alhbian (via skype) had only 48 hours to design a Disaster Response Hospital for civil or military use. Their elegant solution, featuring a sophisticated search-and- rescue vehicle, imagined three independent scenarios, anticipating a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, and a humanitarian catastrophe. “It is our belief that every disaster is essentially a personal one and that the key to disaster relief lies in creative approaches to individual rescue relief,” stated the team in its brief.
  • A McGill team of five U2 Architecture students won first prize this year in the category Agitation in the 14th edition of the CCA’s Interuniversity Charrette (October 30 to November 3, 2008). Second-year undergraduate students Emma Greer, Pierre-Luc Perron, Sophie Lauriault, Katherine Messina, and Sarah Tu competed against 31 other teams from McGill, U de M, Laval, UQAM, Carleton and Ryerson. Their project Manifesto was cited by the jury for being "powerful, simple, supple and direct." The jury also "appreciated the fact that the project seeks to involve the community in its own development."
  • Professional M.Arch. student Jennifer Thorogood was one of three winners in the "That's It"...Architecture 2008 competition organized by Art-City & Peepshow International in Calgary. The objective of the competition was to choose an edge condition and to investigate the occurrence of an apostrophe between the objects. The winners were flown to Calgary to enact their apostrophic forms onto sites at 1:1 scale for the Art-City festival. It was a collaborative affair with the other winners, volunteers and public that took place September 10-13, 2008, with the opening Sept. 12th at Olympic plaza. Winners received free flight and accommodations and $1000. The winning submissions/constructions were also be published.
  • Professional M.Arch. student Ben Mitchell and Bjarne Pedersen, principal architect of Architectural Lighting Design in Oakville (Ontario), have been awarded the Paul Waterbury Award for Outdoor Lighting Design (Special Citation for Energy-Conscious Facade Lighting) for their work on the flagship Umbra store on Queen Street in Toronto. This award is one of four parallel program awards given out by the Illuminating Engineers Society (IES) in their International Illumination Design Awards (IIDA) program. The Special Citation recognizes superior elements of an outstanding lighting design.

Staff Awards and Honours

  • Prof. Robert Mellin received his eighth Southcott Award from the Newfoundland Historic Trust in June 2009, this time for the restoration of the old Post Office in Tilting, Newfoundland. Professor Mellin volunteered to assist in the restoration of the building, and he has been involved with heritage conservation in the community of Tilting since 1987. The Old Post Office on Post Office Lane was constructed in the early 1900’s and also housed the telegraph service. The building has a special roof shape that identifies its public function as was typical for post offices in other Newfoundland outports. There was a U.S. Army base in Sandy Cove just outside Tilting during World War II, and during the war the first telephone in the community was mounted just outside the office door for emergency use by the military.
  • Fifteen young PhD students received $2.7 million worth of scholarships from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation on May 20, 2009. Amongst the recipients is David Theodore (B.A. 1991, B.Sc.Arch. 1994, B.Arch. 1996, M.Arch. 2001), until recently a research associate and third-year studio design teacher at the School, and currently a Ph.D. student at Harvard undertaking a double doctorate in Architecture and Urban Planning. He is studying the architecture of health-care buildings as a form of medical technology influencing health care.
  • Professor Annmarie Adams and David Theodore (now at Harvard University) are among the winners of the National History Society's Pierre Berton Award for 2008, the highest honour for the dissemination of history in Canada. The prize was awarded November 13 in Toronto to the entire team of researchers who contributed to the innovative teaching website, Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History (www.canadianmysteries.ca). The McGill researchers developed the case study entitled The Redpath Mansion Mystery, exploring a mysterious double death in the famous family’s Square Mile Mansion. The award includes a $5,000 prize, which will be used to fund the project in its next phase.
  • Adjunct Professor Julia Gersovitz was inducted into the College of Fellows of the Association for Preservation Technology. The College of Fellows honours those APT members who have provided valuable services to the preservation field and to APT. Election to the APT College of Fellows is the highest honour bestowed by APT upon a member of the organization.
  • Atelier Big City (Adjunct Professor Howard Davies, with Anne Cormier and Randy Cohen) has won the Award for Architectural Integration, a special heritage award from the City of Montreal (L'Opération patrimoine architectural de Montréal 2008). This award is presented to a business for its efforts to enhance an old neighbourhood by integrating a new, quality construction into the existing urban fabric. Atelier Big City has won the award with the firm Les Développements D’arcy McGee Ltée for the Unity 2 project at the corner of rue de la Gauchetière Ouest and rue Saint-Alexandre, next to the heritage Unity Building of which it is an extension.
  • Atelier Big City's Centre d’Interprétation du Bourg de Pabos formed part of the exhibition "41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada – Region, Culture, Tectonics," co-curated by architectural professors John McMinn and Marco Polo and organized by Cambridge Galleries, which represented Canada at the 2008 Venice Biennale in Architecture. Adjunct Professor Howard Davies, together with Anne Cormier and Randy Cohen, are the principals of local architectural firm Atelier Big City. Since its completion in 1993 the Centre d’Interprétation du Bourg de Pabos has also been awarded: a Governor General's Award in 1994, the Grand Prize for Architecture by the Quebec Order of Architects (1994), and was cited as one of the most important Canadian buildings of the 20th century by the journal Canadian Architect.

Research (Selected)

Adams, Annmarie

  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project. Setting the Standard: The Role of Australia in Modern Hospital Design 1925-1960 (2007-09), AUS$213,853 total for 3 years. Partner investigator; chief investigators Julie Willis and Philip Goad, The University of Melbourne. ($28,191 for 08/09.)
  • CIHR Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Teams Grant. Health Care, Technology, and Place: An Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Team. Principals P. Coyte and P. McKeever. Coapplicant: A. Adams et al. Extension 2008-2009. ($288,250 for 08/09.)
  • Associated Medical Services/Hannah/CIHR Grants in the History of Medicine (2006-08). Towers of Power: Designing the Medical High-rise in Canada, 1922-30. Principal applicant; co-principal applicant is Stacie Burke, University of Manitoba; co-applicant David Theodore. ($12,224 for 08/09.)

Bhatt, Vikram

  • North American Sustainability, Housing and Community Consortium. HRSDC funded, NAFTA mobility grant, V. Bhatt - Canadian Consortium Leader. ($30,000 for 08/09.)

Bressani, Martin

  • SSHRC, Standard Research Grant (May 2008 to April 2011), Immersion into Atmosphere, Professor Martin Bressani, principal, Professor Marc Grignon, co-researcher. ($41,199 for 08/09.)

Castro, Ricardo

  • Co-applicant in MCRI (SSHRC): The Hispanic Baroque: Complexity in the First Atlantic Culture, Juan Luis Suárez (principal), The University of Western Ontario (May 2007-2014). ($12,000 for 08/09.)

Friedman, Avi

  • City of Iqaluit, Nunavut (April 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2008). Climactically and Culturally Adaptable Social Housing (Principal, sole researcher). ($60,000 for 08/09.)

Jemtrud, Michael

  • CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund, Facility for Architectural Research in Media and Mediation (April 2008-present). ($224,833 for 08/09.)

Luka, Nik

  • Volvo Research and Educational Foundations, Smaller Project Grant (Jan.2008-Dec. 2009): "Optimising Public Transport Infrastructure for Sustainable City-Building and Urban Regeneration: Whole-Corridor Urban Design Strategies" - N. Luka (principal). ($109,250 for 08/09.)
  • SSHRC, Strategic Knowledge Cluster: New initiative in Canadian history and environment - Alan MacEachern, University of Western Ontario (principal). ($7,500 for 08/09.)

Mellin, Robert

  • Canada Council (Visual Arts Section): Grant approved for research on Newfoundland's Early Modern Architecture, 1945-60 (funding for 2008-2010): McGill Queens Press has expressed interest in publishing this book. ($7,500 for 08/09.)

Pérez-Gómez, Alberto

  • Research/Creation Grant 2007-2010: SSHRC, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, to develop projects generated from “Polyphilo” in order to test digital media on problems of architectural representation. ($60,000 for 08/09.)

Sijpkes, Pieter

  • $173,000 SSHRC Research/Creation Grant, "The New Architecture of Phase Change: Computer Assisted Ice Construction." Pieter Sijpkes, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, and Jorge Angeles, Chair in Design, Mech. Eng. ($65,000 for 08/09.)

Prof. Michael Jemtrud