War Museum, National Ballet School win GGs for architecture

The redesigned National Ballet School in Toronto and the new Canadian War Museum in Ottawa are among the 2008 winners of Governor General's Medals in Architecture.
The Canadian War Museum, a bunker-like building with a striking copper thrust plate, stands alone on Ottawa's LeBreton Flats. ((Harry Foster/Royal Canadian Institute of Architects))
The redesigned National Ballet School in Toronto and the new Canadian War Museum in Ottawa are among the 2008 winners of Governor General's Medals in Architecture.

Winners of Governor-General's Medals were named Tuesday by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Patkau Architects of Vancouver received two citations, for its design of the Gleneagles Community Centre in West Vancouver and for the Winnipeg Centennial Library Addition, which it designed with LM Architectural Group.

Teeple Architects of Toronto is another double-winner. It designed the unusual Scarborough Baptist Church with its sweeping white walls and the Trent University Chemical Science Building in Peterborough, which fits into the distinctive campus originally designed by Ron Thom.

Other winners are:

  • Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto by Architects Alliance of Toronto and Behnisch Architekten of Stuttgart, Germany.
  • Communication, Culture and Technology Building at University of Toronto, Mississauga, by  Saucier + Perrotte of Montreal.
  • Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos, B.C., by  Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects of Vancouver.
  • Jaypee Institute of Information Technology in Noida, India, by Le Groupe Arcop of Montreal.
  • ROAR_one, a Vancouver housing project, by Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture Inc. and Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects and Associated Architects of Vancouver.
  • 4a Wychwood Park, a Toronto home, by Ian MacDonald Architect Inc. of Toronto.

Moriyama & Teshima Architects of Toronto and Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects of Ottawa designed the Canadian War Museum, a bunker-like concrete building that currently stands alone on Ottawa's derelict LeBreton Flats beside the Ottawa River.

"This is a building for war that conveys a sense of peace," the jury said in its critique.

"Light and water offer a sense of tranquility to the darkness and solitude of the 'trenches' while the mass of the building has a discrete rather than triumphant presence in the landscape."

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects of Toronto redesigned a complex of buildings, including a former Victorian house, an old school and former CBC studio, to become the new home of the National Ballet School.

The new building includes dance studios, classrooms and both public and private spaces for students at the acclaimed ballet school.

The NkMip Desert Cultural Centre, a museum for the Osoyoos First Nation, was cited for its environmentally friendly architecture. ((Nic Lehoux/Royal Canadian Institute of Architects))
"This project was complemented for its strong yet varied relationship to the street, particularly in presenting the ballet studios as a vitrine of stacked spaces," the jury said.

Many of the projects featured sustainable design, including the Nk'Mip Desert Culture Centre, a dramatic museum set in the Canadian desert south of the Okanagan Valley in Osoyoos, B.C.

The building, with exhibits honouring the cultural history of the Osoyoos First Nation, has a rammed earth wall to preserve energy, a habitable green roof and water-use management system.

"This very strong yet entirely discreet cultural centre becomes a site museum — one which innovatively re-presents the locale's desert earth in the form of an insulating rammed-earth wall," the jury said.

Group Arcop was also hailed for its innovative design for the Jaypee Institute in Uttar Pradesh, a part of India where land is scarce, energy is expensive and finances are far from abundant.

"It serves as a reminder that challenging new architecture may be created with very modest means using well-known and tried methods," the jury said.

The awards will be presented Oct. 16 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.