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Canadian Modern Architecture: Massey College

08 Oct 2019
Image Credit: University of Toronto’s Massey College—view of upper dining room.
Architectural Credit:Thompson, Berwick & Pratt, architects, with Ron Thom, designer, 1963. 
Photo Credit: H. Roger Jowett, courtesy Alexander Jowett and Canadian Architect magazine fonds, Ryerson University Library and Archives

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 University of Toronto’s Massey College, taken from Lisa Landrum’s chapter, “Campus Architecture: The Radical Medium of Learning.”
For Thom, diversity in the academic context was as much about freedom as enculturation. Architectural diversity within the unity of the campus reflected varied individual ambitions, balanced by common purpose and the mutual support of collegial living and learning. In the architect’s words: “It represents, to the student within, a condensed piece of the world that must accommodate all his changing moods and attitudes…
[T]he diversity of academic relationships undertaken within this building must be complemented by a corresponding diversity of space and interior paraphernalia.” In the same text announcing his winning design, Thom further promised Massey College would be “capable of unfolding itself by degrees—probably never completely.” This openness to endless elaboration is characteristic of scholarly topics, inquisitive students, and any insatiably curious individual.

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