Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Two opposing views of the new HBBH-designed CBC addition: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog piece from last year and Adele Weder's recent profile in Canadian Architect.

I can sympathize with Waterhouse-Hayward's view- like him I had a fondness for the CBC building as it was originally designed, by Paul Merrick of Thompson, Berwick + Pratt. It was of its era, its Brutalist style reflecting both architectural and broadcasting currents at the time.

I also agree that we can be too quick to alter buildings merely because their style has fallen out of favour. Every building has a story to tell, yet additions to existing structures are a reality and an artform in themselves. Sympathetically designed they can lead to an enriched dialogue, like this or the VAG's current Erickson/Rattenbury home.

I think Weder nails it when she defends HBBH's addition as flowing from a new directive for broadcasting and media in general, one that started with the client: it is becoming more democratic and transparent in a way that was difficult to anticipate even a few years ago.

Merrick's concrete edifice and HBBH's glass-faced newsroom contrast two distinct solutions that speak to the CBC's evolving mandate.

Image: Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden

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