Roy Thompson Hall, Arthur Erickson, Moshe Safdie, Canadian Museum of Civilization, National Gallery of Canada
Canadian architects have generally participated in global trends in architectural styles. In the 1930s they adopted the modern International Style of cubic forms, austere surfaces, and large windows. In the past few decades they have helped to define the Post-Modern movement, returning to historical elements such as classical motifs and 19th-century decorations. Interesting examples of vernacular, or folk, architecture—architecture designed by everyday people for everyday purposes—abound throughout the country. So-called significant buildings, those that exemplify particular movements or set new styles, are largely to be found in Canada’s metropolitan areas, especially Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa-Hull.
Many influential architects practice in Canada, but Arthur Erickson and Moshe Safdie are probably the best known. Erickson’s dramatic designs began to achieve prominence in the early 1960s after his proposal for the Simon Fraser University campus was selected; he is also well known for the University of Lethbridge, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Safdie’s career was established with his innovative design of Habitat at Expo ‘67 in Montreal, and he has since worked in a variety of international settings, including Israel, Iran, Mexico, and Singapore. Aside from Habitat, his principal contributions to Canada have been in important civic structures, particularly the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec.
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