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Canadian Modern Architecture: Canadian War Museum

03 Oct 2019
Image Credit: Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, interior view of Commissioner's Way.
Architectural Credit: Moriyama and Teshima Architects in joint venture with Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects, 2005.
Photo Credit: Tom Arban

This month, World Architecture Day is celebrated around the globe. In Canada, October also marks the debut of the first comprehensive review of Canadian architecture in decades. Co-published by Canadian Architect magazine and Princeton Architectural Press, the book Canadian Modern Architecture, 1967 to the Present, will be released on Monday, October 28. It launches with a series of events in cities across Canada, including several events in Ontario that have been supported by the OAA.

To celebrate the book, the blOAAg will include eight excerpts—chosen by co-editor Elsa Lam—over the month. Today’s selection is about the Canadian War Museum, taken from George Thomas Kapelos’ chapter, “The Architecture of Public Institutions.”
Moriyama & Teshima Architects in joint venture with Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects created a building that appeared to grow out of the landscape of LeBreton Flats, overlooking the river. The undulations of the surrounding grounds recall the scarred battlefields of World War I, which saw the overwhelming sacrifice of Canadians to the war effort and the concomitant birth of the Canadian nation.

The building is designed to seemingly emerge from the earth like a geological formation, and elements of the building’s form gesture to other symbols of the National Capital, including the nearby Peace Tower. The building’s narrative balances abstract concept with artifact. The interior spaces of the building comprise four rich and evocative permanent exhibition spaces. Messages of remembrance are inscribed in the museum’s Regeneration Hall, while thirty-degree canted walls recollect subterranean war bunkers. The building serves a dual purpose: to remember the atrocities of past wars and to serve as a positive beacon of hope, reconciliation, and regeneration.

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