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National Gallery of Canada

June 26, 2012

Whenever I visit Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada is a ‘must-visit’ place for me. It is a fascinating masterpiece of modern architecture by architect Moshe Safdie.  His design was won in a 1983-limited National competition, which was the third architectural competition for the project. John C. Parkin had won the second competition in 1976 but it was not built. Later in 1983 Parkin’s firm in conjunction with Safdie built the Gallery we see today.  My association with the project was when I had the good fortune to work with Professor Gustavo da Roza who was an invited participant in the 1976 competition.

Parkin’s 1976 design was based on the assemblage of structural modular gallery components somewhat similar to Herman Hertzberger’s Central Beheer building in Apeldoorn. Safdie’s design on the other hand, conforms to a strong functional approach to the Gallery’s requirements creating an L shape monolith.  The two main ‘streets’ simplify orientation throughout the gallery, which intersects at the crystal pavilion: ‘The Great Hall’. From the entry at the opposite end of the Hall one is lead along a ramped glass and concrete colonnade, a dramatic and spectacular processional event that is the signature of the Gallery.

Making a sketch from the interior of this colonnade would lose the drama of the Great Hall since the scale of the colonnade would dominate the perspective. After touring several station points, I concluded that an exterior view of the colonnade with the Great Hall would capture the drama of both.

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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Archi Blog and commented:

    A Modern Architectural Masterpiece

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