One of the largest institutions dedicated to Architecture celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Montreal's Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) opened to the public in 1989 as a new type of cultural institution, and has produced internationally recognised exhibitions, programs, research, and publications that continue to influence the field of architecture and museums.
The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Over the years it has increased public awareness of the role of architecture in society, promoted scholarly research in the field, and stimulated innovation in design practice. The CCA has become a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on the art of architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.
“The goal of the CCA is to improve the quality of the built environment through knowledge and understanding,” said Founding Director Phyllis Lambert. “We endeavour to shape current discussion in architecture and the city by raising unexpected questions and by giving resonance to big, small, and overlooked ideas. As a totality, our building, collection, exhibitions, publications, and research programs interrelate ideas and the concrete world in which we live.
Founded by Phyllis Lambert in 1979, the CCA opened its doors to the public in 1989. The CCA building and gardens have since become landmarks of Montréal. The new building, designed by Peter Rose with consulting architect Phyllis Lambert and associate architect Erol Argun, was integrated with the historically classified Shaughnessy House (1874) and relates architecture past and present through scale, siting, and the use of local materials like Montréal’s native grey limestone juxtaposed with structural aluminum. The garden, designed by Montréal artist-architect Melvin Charney, faces the CCA from the south side of boulevard René-Lévesque, integrating sculpture and public space on a site granted to the CCA by the City of Montréal in 1986. Together, they speak of the history of architecture and the history of the city.
“As both research centre and museum, the CCA functions as an interdisciplinary laboratory, engaging contemporary issues and developing collaborations with individuals and other institutions,” said Executive Director Mirko Zardini. “By increasing the accessibility of our collection, presenting dynamic exhibitions and programs, and building an online presence, we are attracting a new public to the CCA and ensuring future audiences by focusing on students and young professionals.”
“Montréal owes its prestigious titles of cultural metropolis, city of knowledge and UNESCO City of Design to its high-profile institutions and talented leaders such as Phyllis Lambert and Mirko Zardini,” added Catherine Sévigny, associate councilor responsible for culture and downtown and deputy mayor of the Ville de Montréal. Glenn Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, commended Phyllis Lambert, Mirko Zardini, and their staff on the occasion of the CCA’s 20th anniversary: “In two short decades you have taken a brilliant idea and turned it into an enduring institution that has transformed the cultural landscape of Montréal and the rest of Canada, not to mention North America! The CCA’s extraordinary collections, many programs, and thoughtful and provocative exhibitions are among the most interesting and important taking place anywhere in the world, and consistently set a standard for scholarship and imagination.”