Is nothing sacred?

The objective of a new architectural gallery at Toronto’s Harbourfront is to “challenge and question the thoughtsand the ideas that inform contemporary architecture.” For its second exhibition in the new space at York Quay Centre, three architectural firms were invited to create installations in response to the idea of “sacredness.” More specifically: what, in a secular city, could be seen as sacred?

Levitt Goodman Architects’ multimedia installation, entitled Twilight, offers participants the opportunity to stop and experience the “sacred space” within. On curved scrims, a six-minute cycle of shifting light distills the 24-hour cycle of the sky; a soundscape by artist Yiu-Bun Chan floats in and out, while the floor gently vibrates. Light, sound and motion come together to form a mysterious space of reflection.

Kearns Mancini Architects’ installation, Ceremony, was presented as a work in progress. Clear acrylic rods, illuminated with fibre optics, and sheets of clear acetate provide an austere framework for visitors’ input. Each visitor is invited to reflect on his or her own version of sacred space, describe what it looks and feels like on a piece of acetate, and then tie the acetate to one of the rods. Complete once all the input has accumulated, the closing of Ceremony will in reality be its opening.

Taylor_Smyth Architects’ installation – In search of the sacred in the space of the city – captures transformative moments of particular Toronto spaces, from the grand to the banal. A forest of suspended columns holds a number of backlit acrylic views boxes and peepholes; each of these contains an image or video of a space that’s sacred to a person in the Taylor_Smyth office. A large map with backlit LED lights indicated the featured spaces.

Sacred Space runs at Harbourfront’s York Quay Centre until Sept. 7.

Rockwell on a roll

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is celebrating outstanding achievement in design – across a variety of disciplines – with its ninth an-nual National Design Awards program.

This year’s winner of the Interior Design Award is the Rockwell Group, which specializes in cultural, hospitality, retail, product and set design. Founder David Rockwell’s interest in theatre has informed much of the firm’s work, including the W New York, W Union Square Hotel and the Adour Alain Ducasse restaurant in New York; the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles; Nobu restaurants worldwide; and set designs for Broadway productions of Hairspray and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Rockwell and company are currently at work on Imagination Playground, designed in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation; and the interior of then ew JetBlue terminal at NewYork’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Award recipients will be honoured at a gala dinner at Cooper-Hewitt on Oct. 23.

Cutting-edge Canadian

A new book from Key Porter takes a look at Canadian advances in sustainable design. The result of a work project conducted by the School of Design at George Brown College, Canada Innovates: Sustainable Building takes the reader into 50 of the most environmentally friendly homes, institutions and commercial buildings in the country. (Firms whose work is represented include Busby Perkins + Will, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, and Saia Barbarese Topouzanov.) Edited by Luigi Ferrara and Emily Visser, the book includes essays on the history of sustainable design and its future directions as well as extensive resources.

An eye on IIDEX

Participants, speakers and exhibitors from around the world are gearing up for IIDEX/NeoCon Canada, the country’s foremost exposition and conference showcasing the best of design, architecture and innovation for the built environment. Highlights this year include Canhome, covering sustainable living; the Green Patient Room, a symposium of sustainable healthcare; Material Experience, featuring a hands-on material library and conference; Light Canada, the country’s largest lighting show and conference; and the ARIDO Awards of Excellence celebration and IIDEX Innovation Awards. Among keynote speakers is Klaus Nienkmper, the legendary founder and president of Nienkmper, in conversation with the Royal Ontario Museum’s William Thorsell.

IIDEX/NeoCon Canada runs at the Direct Energy Centre, in Toronto, Sept. 25 and 26.

A tale of two cities

Naming the first North American exhibition of residential work by two internationally renowned architects, the Canadian Centre for Architecture kept it admirably plain and simple: Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa. Conceived by the CCA in collabo-ration with the architects, the exhibition focuses on recent projects by Taylor in London and Nishizawa in Tokyo.

The two cities provide particularly relevant ground for case studies – not only due to the scale and complexity of their respective built environments, but especially for the way in which their increasing densities call for a redefinition of urban living. While facing similar issues related to growth, the two cities occupy cultural contexts in which themes of proximity, privacy, community and public space take on different meanings and require distinct solutions. Taylor and Nishizawa have developed new ideas for urban living borne of their respective cultures.

The architects’ projects are each presented in three galleries, adjacent and open to one another in order to establish relationships among their respective works and between the two. On view are drawings, large-scale renderings, models, books, and prints by established photographers.

Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa runs at the Canadian Centre for Architecture until Oct. 26.