Dynamic duo: Phyllis Lambert & Elizabeth Diller

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) will host a public conversation with CCA founding director Phyllis Lambert and Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) on Mon., May 13. On this occasion, the two renowned architects will present their 2013 publications, respectively, Building Seagram and Lincoln Center Inside Out and discuss architecture and public space in New York.

Drawing from a combination of personal and scholarly records, both architects discuss the importance of the interaction between architecture and the city at two key moments 50 years apart. The event – presented mainly in English– will take place in the Paul Desmarais Theatre, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The book Building Seagram, published in English by Yale University Press, recounts the story of the Seagram building, which rises over New York’s Park Avenue, seeming to float above the street with perfect lines of bronze and glass. Considered one of the greatest icons of 20th-century architecture, the building was commissioned by Samuel Bronfman, founder of the Canadian distillery dynasty Seagram. Bronfman’s daughter Phyllis Lambert was 27 years old when she took over the search for an architect and chose Mies van der Rohe, a pioneering modern master of what he termed “skin and bones” architecture. Mies, who designed the elegant, deceptively simple 38-storey tower along with Philip Johnson, emphasized the beauty of structure and fine materials, and set the building back from the avenue, creating an urban oasis with the building’s plaza. Through her choice, Lambert established her role as a leading architectural patron and singlehandedly changed the face of American urban architecture.

The publication Diller, Scofidio + Renfro: Lincoln Center Inside Out, published in English by Damiani, treats the redesign of Lincoln Center, one of the most challenging and innovative civic projects in recent urban history. Over the past eight years, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has transformed the 50-year-old modernist citadel into a porous and democratic campus. Conceived as a cross between an art book, a scholarly record and an architectural diary, this publication demonstrates how the recent redesign both respects and challenges preconceived notions about Lincoln Center and its ongoing role as a cultural hub in an ever-changing city. It can be seen as a photo essay leading readers on a visual tour of the campus, or as a series of intricate short stories narrated through rich and experimental ephemera that allows readers to explore the many phases within a project.


The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive Collection, exhibitions, programs, and research opportunities, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.

For more information, visit cca.qc.ca