Director's newsletter 2000-2001

Dear friends,

On behalf of the staff and students who make up the community of the School of Architecture, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to thank you for your support in the last twelve months and to wish you all the best for 2001 and the new millennium. This would also be a good time to bring you up-to-date on some of the recent activities and events in the School.

As most of you know, we have replaced the B.Arch. with the M.Arch. as the first professional degree in Architecture - credit for the smooth implementation of this proposal goes to the Curriculum Committee and Bruce Anderson. The new program retains the old B.Sc.(Arch) but replaces the two-semester B.Arch. with a three-semester professional M.Arch. that incorporates new courses in design research and programming, architectural criticism, professional practice, and building science, and increases the credit weight of the final design thesis from six to eight. The new program, designated M.Arch. I (professional), went into effect in Fall 99; the first students to graduate with the new degree completed their thesis in December.

Our post-professional Master's programs in Housing and in History and Theory, which continue to attract outstanding students from all over the world, have been restructured as project, as opposed to thesis, programs. It will now be possible for some students to complete the revised programs, designated M.Arch. II (post-professional), in 12 months.

Many of you may not know that we now offer a Ph.D. in Architecture. The Ph.D., first proposed in 1989, operated as an ad hoc program until December, 1997, when it received final approval from Quebec's Minister of Education. This fall, the Ph.D. began its third academic year as a full-status architecture program with a total enrolment of more than a dozen students.

Visitors to the School may notice a few new faces in the teaching staff. Two searches for full-time tenure-track positions have been completed: Robert Mellin of St. John's, Newfoundland, joined us in September 1999, and Martin Bressani, Carleton University, will be starting in January 2001. Professor Gerry Tondino, who was appointed jointly in Architecture and Education, retired in 1998 after 37 years of distinguished teaching in the School; we all miss his gentle presence, but welcome Professor Joanna Nash, who has taken over the Freehand Drawing sequence. It is, again with great sadness, that I inform you that Professor Ryszard Poddubiuk, who taught Specifications and Building Costs from 1986 to 1998, passed away in 1998; the course is now taught by his son, Mark.

We continue to draw heavily from the professional community for studio and other course teaching. In the last year, this list has included Atelier Big City (Cohen, Cormier, Davies), Atelier in Situ (Annie Lebel and Stephane Pratte), l'Oeuf (Danny Pearl and Mark Poddubiuk), Gavin Affleck and Richard de la Riva, Manon Asselin, Ewa Bieniecka, Julia Bourke, Louis Brillant, Michael Carroll, Nathalie David, François Dufaux, François Émond, Dan Hanganu, Julia Gersovitz, Nora Hanessian, Alka Jain, Rhona Kenneally, Luci Mastropasqua, Louise Pelletier, Daniella Rohan, Richard Russell, Eva and André Vecsei, Catherine Vezina, Fred Weiser and Sam Yip. Gordon Edwards, François Émond, Seymour Levine, Serge Melanson, and Joe Zorko continue to teach key required courses, and Howard Davies continues to coordinate the thesis studio with professionalism and grace. We are indeed fortunate to have been able to rely so consistently on this fine core of teachers/practitioners.

A number faculty members have published important books in the last few years:

  • Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, Annmarie Adams, McGill-Queen's University Press 1996.
  • Resorts of the Raj: the Hill Stations of India, Vikram Bhatt, Mapin 1997.
  • Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge, Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Louise Pelletier, MIT Press 1998.
  • Rogelio Salmona, Ricardo Castro, Villegas Editores, 1998.
  • Chora - Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture, edited by Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Steve Parcell, McGill-Queen's University Press,1996 (Volume II) and 1999 (Volume III)
  • 6000 Years of Housing, (revised, updated and redesigned), Norbert Schoenauer, Norton 2000.
  • Designing Women: Gender and the Architectural Profession, Annmarie Adams and Peta Tancred, U of T Press 2000.

Staff have also been recognized for excellence in a variety of ways.

  • Norbert Schoenauer and Avi Friedman were both honoured by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in March 1999. Norbert received an ACSA Distinguished Professor Award and Avi was recognized with a Creative Achievement Award.
  • Avi was also recognized for his research in housing by the United Nations with a World Habitat Award in Fall 99 at a ceremony in China, and with a Manning Innovation Award in Fall 2000.
  • Annmarie Adams was awarded the Hannah Medal of the Royal Society of Canada for her book Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women. She was further recognized by McGill this fall with an appointment as a William Dawson Scholar.
  • Vikram Bhatt was promoted to the rank of Full Professor, and appointed Vice-President (India) of the Shastri Institute for his 2000-2001 sabbatical year.
  • Adrian Sheppard was also promoted to the rank of Full Professor.
  • In June, Ricardo Castro was appointed to a 3-year term as Director of l'Institut de recherche en histoire de l'architecture. (IRHA)

The Macdonald-Harrington Building, pre-1950.

The Reunion weekend in October found a delightfully large number of graduates visiting the School. Special events were held by the classes of 50, 60, 70, 75, 80 and 90, many of whom attended a terrific presentation by Arthur Erickson, B.Arch.'50, on Saturday morning, which was followed by a panel discussion and light lunch.

The class of '75, in October - yes, that's Rad Zuk and Maureen Anderson, standing 6th and 10th from left, and Derek, 2nd from right.
Harry demonstrates in this photo by Prof. David Brown, Director, School of Urban Planning.

Many visitors noticed several new trees planted in front of the School, extending the Centennial Garden designed by John Schreiber and built by students in the spring of 1996. Three new trees were in fact "commissioned" last June: a weeping willow for graduate P. Roy Wilson, who celebrated his hundredth birthday in May; a magnolia for graduate Harry , who turned ninety in April, and an English oak for John Schreiber, the garden's godfather. All three were on hand to ceremoniously water their trees as part of the inauguration ritual.

Your generous gifts support a variety of programs, including activities such as our visiting speakers series, the publication of the annual Catalogue of student work, special projects upgrading the studios and Information Technology resources, and student travel. A recent gift from Phyllis Lambert has created an important endowment for the support of teaching and research at the doctoral level in the history and theory of architecture. Major gifts from other sources have endowed a number of new fellowships and prizes:

  • The Gluskin Sheff Travelling Scholarship: Established with a donation from Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc. (Gerald Sheff, B.Arch. 64) of Toronto, Ontario, to assist undergraduate students to participate in exchange programs at Schools of Architecture that have a formal exchange agreement with McGill. Eventual value: two or three awards, totalling $12500
  • The John Bland Scholarship: Established in 1998 with an anonymous donation by a Hong Kong graduate of the Chemical Engineering Class of "59, in honour of Professor John Bland, Director of the School of Architecture between 1941 and 1972. The scholarship is awarded by a committee of staff of the School to a graduating student to support work in China. Value: $6000
  • The Dr. Soo Kim Lan Prize in Architecture: Established in 2000 by Arthur C. F. Lau (B.Arch.'62) and Crystal S. C. Soo Lau (B.Sc.'62, M.Sc.'64), in memory of the latter's mother Dr. Soo Kim Lan. Awarded by the School of Architecture to an outstanding student completing the second semester of study in the Master of Architecture program. Value: $2000
  • The Ping Kwan Lau Prize in Architecture: Established in 2000 by Crystal S. C. Soo Lau (B. Sc. '62, M. Sc. '64) and Arthur C. F. Lau (B. Arch. '62) in memory of the latter's father, Ping Kwan Lau. The prize is awarded by the School of Architecture to a graduating student who has demonstrated excellence in the research, site analysis and program preparation for the final design project of the M. Arch. I Program. Value: $500
  • The Norbert Schoenauer and David Farley Fellowships: Established in 2000 with an anonymous donation by a Hong Kong graduate of the Chemical Engineering Class of "59. Awarded by the Schools of Architecture and Urban Planning to outstanding students in post-graduate research programs addressing issues related to the urban environment. Value: 2 awards of $6250
  • The Seymour and Shirley Levine Book Prize in Design : Established in 2000 by friends and family of Seymour and Shirley Levine. The prize is awarded by the School of Architecture to a graduating student who has demonstrated excellence and innovation in the integration of environmental systems in the final project of the M. Arch. I Program. Value: $250
  • The Tuesday evening lecture series is ably and imaginatively coordinated by M.Arch I student Owen Rose.
  • The Winter 2000 series included Michael Benedikt, University of Texas, co-sponsored by the Beatty Memorial Lecture Fund and McGill's Graduate Program in Communications; Pierre Thibault, Quebec City; Robert Mellin; John Zils, Engineer, Chicago, co-sponsored by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and École Polytechnique; Juhani Pallasmaa, Helsinki; Rogelio Salmona, Bogotá; and Vladimir Slapeta, Prague.
  • Speakers in the Fall 2000 Series included Norman Pressman, Toronto; Arthur Erickson, Vancouver; Eric Gauthier; Perla Serfaty-Garzon; Sophie Charlebois; Claude Cormier; and Annmarie Adams.
  • This fall also saw the renewal of a lunchtime lecture program, the Brown Bag Lectures, featuring ten significant Montreal practices; this was the result of a highly successful initiative by M. Arch. I student Pari Riahi, and will continue next term.
  • Most of you know that travel remains a key element of our program.

    Each year, approximately fifteen of our students participate in one of our exchange programs, and an equivalent number of foreign students are accommodated in the School. This year McGill students will be studying in schools in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, France, Hong Kong, Israel, and Italy.
  • Sketching School is another great strength of the School. In the last ten years, the course has visited five provinces and two states; Sketching School 2000 took place in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and produced an extremely impressive body of work.
  • The Summer Course Abroad alternates between Aegina, Greece, with Ricardo Castro, and Venice, with Rad Zuk, with class sizes that vary from 12 to 24 students. Summer 2001 may find the Summer Course Abroad based in Tianjin, China, for the first time, as Pieter Sijpkes develops our growing relationship with Tianjin University's School of Architecture.
  • The Wilfred Truman Shaver Scholarship is awarded to as many as ten students each year, who undertake, as a group, a three or four-week study trip under the supervision of one or more staff. Recent Shaver trips have taken students to China (Pieter Sijpkes and Joe Carter), Egypt (Ricardo Castro), and England (Bruce Anderson).

In closing, I'd like to thank you once again for your interest and support. It is important to us, and much appreciated. Please keep in touch; if you can't visit the School, visit, which seems to be always under construction.

david.covo [at] (David Covo) , Director, December 2000

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