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 travelling.
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.