The CCA is an extensive archive and research centre that aims to promote the importance of architecture to the general public. It was founded in 1979 by Phyllis Lambert, an architect and philanthropist who has championed modern architecture, being famously involved in appointing Mies van der Rohe to design the Seagram building. More importantly perhaps, she has also campaigned against the demolition of historic buildings, organised housing co-operatives and lobbied against development schemes in her native city of Montreal. The CCA is housed in a building that Lambert saved from demolition and its extension was partly designed by her. The archive is based around her own personal collection of architectural books, drawings and pamphlets. The stated aim of the CCA, to build public awareness of the role of architecture in society and of promoting scholarly research in architecture, are also a direct result of Lambert's vision who has been its director since its inception until 1999.
The centre holds numerous exhibitions and educational programs, disseminating the work locally in Montreal as well as internationally through its accompanying catalogues. Recent exhibitions have included, Sorry Out of Gas (including projects such as the Farallones Institute, the New Alchemy Institute and Windworks), which looked at architectural responses to the 1973 oil crisis, as well as Sense of the City, which critically interprets the city through the senses. An onsite study centre funds visiting scholars who would benefit from the CCA archives on individual architects, their prints and drawings (including the Cedric Price Archive), as well as artefacts such as a collection on kindergarten toys. The centre also hosts public lectures and seminars, and organises outreach programs for local schools in the form of workshops and events. Spatial agency is thus found here through pedagogical means in the free and democratic access to highly specialised knowledge. It is also found in the way the institution itself has helped to turn around a deprived area of Montreal.
Borasi, Giovanna, and Mirko Zardini, eds., Sorry Out of Gas: Architecture's response to the 1973 oil crisis. (Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2007).
Zardini, Mirko, ed., Sense of the city: An Alternate
Approach to Urbanism. (Montreal: Canadian Centre for
Zardini, Mirko, and Giovanna Borasi, eds., Actions: what you can do with the city. (Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2008).
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Richards, Larry, Canadian Centre for Architecture. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989).
Citizen Lambert: Jeanne d'Architecture / Citizen Lambert: Joan of Architecture. Dir. Teri Wehn-Damisch, Filmoption International, (2006).
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