Vancouver’s Point Man

Over the past 30 years, Vancouver has transformed itself from provincial outpost to globally-renowned metropolis — a crucial link in the Pacific Rim necklace of capital, culture and migration. The change has been physical. Since 1990, more than 150 skyscrapers have been built on the Canadian city’s downtown peninsula, creating a densely-built environment that has […]

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Revisiting the Fortress Embassy

Security forces intervene during the protests at US Embassy Cairo. Photo by Gigi Ibrahim. There are probably at least a few in your city, hiding on the upper floods of office buildings, secluded in elegant townhouses, tucked somewhere behind high fences out of view. Nearby cars’ license plates are sometimes their only identifiable feature. Whether […]

Posted in: Africa and Middle East, Architecture, Books, Europe, Politics by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Revisiting the Fortress Embassy , , , , ,

From Industry to Art at Warp Speed

It’s a familiar story: old industrial area becomes creative hub. What makes OCT Loft different is that the entire process took just six years — and it’s on the vanguard of Shenzhen’s transformation from factory town to Chinese creative superpower. In the mid-1980s, a swath of farmland in the newly-established Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was […]

The Ningbo History Museum

Ningbo is a pleasant 2.5 hour drive from Shanghai, a trip that would otherwise take four hours if not for the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, an impressive feat of Chinese infrastructure which opened in May 2008. It spans 36 km (22 miles) and takes almost 20 minutes to cross by car. Looking out on both sides […]

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Ma Yansong’s Organic Architecture

Mississauga was as close to a blank slate as Beijing-based architect Ma Yansong could hope for. For more than twenty years, the sprawling city in the suburbs of Toronto has been searching fruitlessly for an identity. Its first attempt came in 1987, when a national design competition produced a post-modern City Hall that resembled a […]

Transit by Design

Lai King Station, next to Hong Kong’s sprawling container port, has special significance for Wilfred Yeung. “This was my first assignment when I joined the MTR,” he says as we ride down the escalator from the busy platform upstairs. In the mid-1990s, as a young architect, Yeung was given the task of expanding the station […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, History, Interior Space, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Transit by Design , , , , ,

Simple Design, Transforming the City

Jean-Talon Station’s southwest exit in 2010 Rendering by MileEnd Design The southwest exit of Montreal’s Jean-Talon metro station — a small but interesting specimen of contemporary architecture — is situated along Jean-Talon Street, at the end of a huge parking lot and between some commercial strips in need of renovation. In that situation, we can […]

The Childish Folly of Dubai

Dubai feels like it was designed by a five-year-old boy. What kid doesn’t get excited about the BIGGEST BUILDING EVER, or the WORLD’S BIGGEST MALL? And then there’s the idea of a SEVEN STAR HOTEL. Wow! A real kid’s drawing would have these elements laid out side-by-side, in two dimensions. Drawings by five-year-olds generally don’t […]

Jacques Cartier Bridge Building

My award for the most underlooked gem in Montreal goes to the Jacques Cartier Bridge Building. Built around 1930, it looks like an art deco take on a Moroccan kasbah. The windows are laid out under arches, in straight lines of narrow arrow slits, and some in diagonals. There are even traditional rub el hizb, […]

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Around the World in Shanghai

In Shanghai’s French Concession…or la France profonde? Since the first World’s Fair opened in London in 1851, the event has remade cities, bestowing lasting landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower and Space Needle, and introducing the styles, modes, and technologies that would come to dominate urban life: City Beautiful neoclassicism made its debut at Chicago’s World’s […]

Modern Madrid

Madrid’s iconography is strictly prewar. Between the gratuitous ornamentation dripping from the buildings lining Gran Via and the interiors of crowded tapas, the city centre appears decked out in full late-19th century regalia, fit for admirers of coattails and opera gloves. Tread out along the boulevards bursting from the city’s heart, however, and Madrid’s palette […]

An Echo of the Hagia Sophia

Over the years I’ve heard people surmise it to be a temple, a mosque, an Orthodox church, even a synagogue. Familiar sight though it is in central Montreal, the first thing the huge domed building at Saint-Urbain and Saint-Viateur brings to mind is not the Roman Catholic church. At the turn of the last century […]

Skywalking in Style

The term “skywalk” conjures up something decidedly modern, and for the most part, the elevated pedestrian bridges linking office buildings in cities around the world really are quite recent. Rare before the 1960s and 70s, they have since become popular as a means of separating high volumes of pedestrians from high volumes of vehicular traffic […]

Posted in: Architecture, United States by Christopher DeWolf 3 Comments , ,

Construction Site

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that downtown Calgary is in the midst of a construction boom. Construction explosion, more like it. Nearly two dozen new condominium and office towers are under construction in the city’s compact centre; some are destined for obscurity but others, like Norman Foster’s The Bow, which […]

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