DATE: Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
D.talks Building Iconomy: Possibilities for a West Coast Modern Building was hosted at the Calgary Masonic Temple. The Freemason’s Hall was established in 1927 and is a designated heritage site. D.S. McIlroy was the architect commissioned to design the building. He is also known for his work on the First Baptist Church and the Odd Fellows Temple in Calgary. Many of the tradesmen who worked on the buildings construction were Masons. The interior has maintained it’s original floor plan and details.
The Lacey Court building nested within Calgary’s Beltline, is a rare example of a west coast modern style of architecture. This unassuming but cherished building designed by J. Stevenson & Associates was presented in context of the emerging city in the 1950s. Bioi, FAAS Architecture Office and Studio North, three emerging architecture firms in Calgary, presented concepts on the potential for adaptive reuse of the Lacey Court Building, in light of current day pressures for inner city growth.
Alex Bozikovic/The Globe and Mail
FAAS Architecture Office
West coast modernism is a regionally specific variation on the modernist architectural tradition that emerged in the Greater Vancouver area in the 1940s. This style emphasizes open floor plans, flat roofs, post and beam construction, natural materials, such as wood and stone, and the heavy use of glass. Windows are oriented to views of the landscape, sun paths and water features.
The newly renamed Lacey Court is an example of a West Coast Modern style building. Lacey Court was occupied through the years by the architecture firm J. Stevenson Associates, the National Film Board of Canada, the Law Society of Alberta, John R. Lacey International, PGA Architectural Group and the Thai Consulate. The buildings current resident is MODA architecture.
Alex Bozikovic is the architecture and urbanism critic for The Globe and Mail. Alex demonstrated the design elements of modernism with an array of finely considered buildings.
The modernist buildings considered were: the Mayland Heights Elementary School by Gordon Atkins, Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, The Lever House by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois, The Schindler House by Rudolf Schindler, the Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Case Study House by Pierre Koenig, Inn on the Park by Dickenson and Associates, the Barron building by Jack Cawston, the Petro Fina Building by Rule Wynn and Rule.
Fred Valentine has practiced architecture since 1963 and has contributed numerous well recognized architectural projects in Alberta including, Canada Olympic Park XV Olympic Winter Games facilities, the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Building at the Banff Centre, and the refurbishment of the Jubilee Auditoriums in Calgary and Edmonton.
Fred introduced the unsung modernist buildings in Calgary, placing the Lacey Court Building into local context. The Trend House in Elboya, the Elveden Tower (both by Rule Wynn and Rule Architects), and the Lincoln Park Campus at Mount Royal University are buildings in the West Coast Modern style that characterized a period of greatness in architecture.
Local architecture firm J. Stevenson Associates designed Lacey Court in 1956. Dale Taylor, an architect who once worked for the firm when it practiced out of the Lacey Court building, provided a history of the firm. J. Stevenson and associates had a number of significant commissions including the Barron Building, the Stampede Coral and the Petro Chemical Building. Dale has mentored emerging firms such as RAD Architecture, Eleven Eleven and McKinley Burkart Architects.
DESIGN CONCEPTS FOR LACEY COURT
Three emerging practices developed an “architectural prompt” for Lacey Court to prime a discussion on adaptive-reuse while accommodating pressures of growth. The conceptual ideas presented by Formed Alliance Architecture Studio (FAAS), Bioi and Studio North were followed by a discussion. The architectural prompts will be on display in early 2016.
FAAS explored the Lacey Court’s connection to Memorial Park and to nearby buildings. Their conceptual idea proposed a pavilion light box be moved to the top of an adjacent tower and the removal of the first floors of the building, separating business from residential dwellings.
Bioi considered the Lacey Court’s significance to the city and developed an architectural prompt that offered affordable housing, affordable small office space, micro housing, eradicated parking and added green space. Bioi’s design honoured Lacey Courts’ loyalty to the public realm, the set back from the street, large glass windows and green space. The final design added volume on the west side with a very thin and tall tower, placed upon a modern podium.
Studio North’s design prompt for Lacey Court considered reincorporating a theater space, in homage to the NFB, as well as including studio spaces for small creative professionals, a woodshop and a street-facing exhibition space. Their studies of light and reflections revealed possibilities like extending the courtyard, adding a rooftop space, and banking and reflecting sunlight into the building and the courtyard.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION
Consider following Docomomo an international organization with chapters in Canada, committed to documenting and conserving buildings, neighborhoods and sites of the modern movement.
Stay tuned for a public exhibition in early 2016 on the re-imagining of Lacey Court as conceived by D.talks presenters Bioi, FAAS and Studio North.
Consult our "d.talks recommends" bookshelf at Shelf Life Books for a curated selection of books related to upcoming and past events.
EVENT SUPPORTERS AND FRIENDS
Thank you for yet another successful year of conversation about design and the built environment in Calgary. Thanks to Urban Systems, DIRTT, and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for their support of this event. Thanks to Platform Design for their design of the invitation.
d.talks wishes to thank all of our incredible panelists, volunteers, members and event supporters and friends who provide us with technical equipment and libations for our events:
We look forward to collaborating with you in 2016!