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550 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 Sister Margaret MacDonell's scholarship is impeccable: her introduction and discussions of the various poets are illuminating and her back notes give references to related material and other versions of the songs with explanations of puzzling words or phrases. Altogether a fine piece of work. (EDITH FOWKE) William Bernstein and Ruth Cawker. Contemporary Canadian Architecture - The Mainstream and Beyond Fitzhenry and Whiteside. "90. $25.00 One of the challenges to critics of architecture is to identify design trends, common characteristics in building form, plan, or programme and to synthesize these into a discussion of style. Making these connections is often much easier when architecture is seen from a historical perspective, where time clarifies some characteristics and makes other influences less prominent. An attempt to undertake such an analysis of the contemporary scene is, as a consequence, more difficult and not without risk. This may, in part, explain the lack of many comprehensive reviews of post-war architecture in Canada. It may also be that, because of the chaotic and rapid growth of this country since 1950, the focus has been on reporting trends, rather than examining the tendencies in any depth or detail. Contemporanj Canadian Architecture by William Bernstein and Ruth Cawker is an attempt to make order from the multitude of buildings erected in Canada since the end of World War Two. This comprehensive analysis maintains a certain degree of breadth, without ignoring the importance of in-depth discussion of individual building projects. It succeeds in providing a theoretical framework for understanding what has been built in Canada during the past three decades. Unlike some other analyses, Contemporary Canadian Architecture eschews a strictly historical. geographical, or typological frame of reference. Rather, the analysis crosses both historical and theoretical lines and relates to social and political events in Canada, as well as current architectural phenomena. Taking Expo '67 as its point of departure, Contemporary Canadian Architecture examines four issues: 'mainstream' architecture, heritage conservation , urban design, and the changing attitudes of architects towards historical and modern tendencies in architecture. The importance of Expo '67 cannot be underestimated. As a symbol, it represented for Canada a new-found consciousness of itself, its past, its future, and most important its place in the world. As an architectural event, Expo '67 gave Canadian architects an unprecedented opportunity to explore design at the scale of both the individual building and the HUMANITIES 551 building grouping. The use of new materials and technologies, as well as a transportation system linking elements within the site, enhanced the futuristic image of Expo '67. The second event of importance chronicled by Bernstein and Cawker is the 1976-7 National Gallery competition. Essentially, by the terms of the competition, only larger established or 'mainstream' firms were ultimately able to participate in the event, thus eliminating the potential for variety of architectural expression which flourished at Expo '67. The authors present the entries in the second stage of the design competition and undertake a careful analysis of each, supported by personal observations by participating architects. The variety of schemes presented accurately reflects the state of the art in architectural practice in Canada to that time. The fact that the winning scheme was never built sheds further light onto the complexity of the competition process and the relationship between art, architecture, and politics. By contrast to those on Expo '67 and the National Gallery competition, the sections on conservation, urban design, and historicism examine a number of building projects - some more important than others - all of which reflect attitudes to design, history, and the city. In the section entitled The Will to Conserve: five projects are examined : Halifax Promenade, Sussex Drive (Ottawa), Harbourfront (Toronto ), Granville Island (Vancouver), and Montreal's Corridar!. These present varying approaches to building with an existing fabric. 'The Changing Forms of Public Life' discusses a more complex issue - the relation of street to building, inside and outside, private to public space and movement systems to the city. Again, a number of projects are presented. Calgary'S Plus 15 System, Spadina Subway (Toronto), Robson Square (Vancouver), Eaton Centre (Toronto), Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, Commerce Court (Toronto), North Vancouver Civic Centre, the Alberta Government Services...


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pp. 550-552
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