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authority records
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Carter, Dennis

  • Dennis Carter
  • Person
  • 1920-2012

Born in Montreal on October 9, 1920, Dennis Carter grew up in Croydon, England; his father held a position in London with the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1939, having returned to Canada just as the Second World War began, Carter began a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. He graduated with Honours in 1945 and was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Gold Medal. His fifth year project, which was published in the RAIC Journal, was a detailed and thoughtful design for an office building-movie theatre complex and for a mixed-use community recreation centre that featured modular construction to facilitate future additional phases. During his academic years Carter worked for several months for Cowin and Co. Reinforced Concrete Engineers and spent two years with Moody Moore Architects.

In June 1947 Carter registered with the Manitoba Association of Architects. That same year, only two years out of university, he joined with two fellow University of Manitoba graduates – Ernest Smith and Walter L. Katelnikoff – to form a partnership known as Smith Carter Katelnikoff. This firm (in its later years without Katelnikoff) would become one of the pre-eminent architectural offices in Winnipeg, and one of the largest practices in the country. The post-war years proved to be an auspicious time for the firm to begin, with pent-up demand from the Depression and war, and increasing population unleashing a wave of construction. Smith Carter Katelnikoff quickly made a name for itself with such early projects as the 1948 renovation of its offices (on Portage Avenue East) followed by such academic works as Varennes School (22 Varennes Avenue, 1951), Ecole Marion (619 Rue Des Meurons, 1952) and Norwood Collegiate (188 St. Mary’s Road, 1955). The demand was such that the trio added a fourth partner, the experienced E. Fitz Munn, in 1954. In 1959, with Munn and Katelnikoff having departed in 1956 and 1958, respectively, Smith and Carter were joined by James E. Searle, another University of Manitoba architecture graduate.

Over the 1950s the young firm’s commissions grew both in terms of scale and sophistication. Careful attention to interior functions and appropriate materials satisfied their clients’ expectations and the practice became known for advocating a modernism adapted to express local climatic and cultural circumstances. The design and construction of the University of Manitoba’s School of Architecture in 1958-59 was a benchmark for Smith Carter Katelnikoff. Rectangular in form, the building contains an interior courtyard and entrances approached north and south by raised bridges. The curtain wall construction alternates clear and opaque glass with spandrels and columns of precast concrete of a fine limestone aggregate, set off by aluminum mullion (vertical bar between window panes) fins. Given its specialized functions for drafting, classroom, library and administration, the architects worked closely with the staff and students to achieve the best possible building and – under the direction of Dean John Russell – “good architecture.” In light of the building programme and specific requirements of the client group and the architects on both sides of the faculty, the School of Architecture (now known as the Russell Building) is a paradigmatic example of 1950s institutional architecture.

Carter and his eponymous firm were a central player in the architectural development of the city for the following decades. The many Winnipeg landmarks designed by Smith Carter continue to contribute to the life of the city. Examples of this – and of their distinctly modern approach during the post-war decades – include the Centennial Concert Hall (555 Main Street), the Manitoba Museum (190 Rupert Avenue), St. John's Ravenscourt School (400 South Drive) and the Monarch Life Building (333 Broadway). Carter himself took particular pride in his own contribution to the design of Rae & Jerry's Steak House (1405 Portage Avenue).

Over his career Carter served for many years as a studio critic at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture. Made a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1963, he served as president of the Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA) in 1966 and 1967. Alongside his lifelong business partner Ernest Smith, Carter was awarded an honourary life membership to the MAA in 2000. Having worked as a student in the 1940s with Professor John A. Russell on sets for various drama and ballet productions, it was only natural for Carter to return to these interests as a professional, through his involvement with Rainbow Stage and as president of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet from 1961 to 1964. Carter likewise cared greatly for the improvement of health care spaces and architecture as a professional and citizen. During his final days at the Grace Hospital he delighted in telling the nurses there of his role in designing his own room. He was furthermore engaged in such organizations as the Winnipeg Flying Club, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada (having been a founding member), the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba and the Zoological Society of Manitoba. In his retirement years Carter indulged his interest in flight through building model planes and helping to restore the aviation museum’s Tiger Moth heritage airplane. Carter passed away at the age of 91 in June 2012

de Forest, Claude

  • WAF cdeforest
  • Person
  • 1931-2013

Claude was born in 1931 in Basel, Switzerland to George and Esther De Forest. Immigrating to Canada in 1949, the de Forest family landed in Montreal before settling in Winnipeg in the early fifties. Claude's natural drawing abilities and long family line of architects led him to pursue a BArch from the University of Manitoba in 1955 followed by a Masters in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, Claude was hired as a junior designer with the prestigious Eero Saarinen and Associates office outside of Detroit. In 1958, he took an architectural pilgrimage through Asia and it was during this trip that he met his future wife Yoshiko in Kyoto, Japan. They were married in 1960 and returned to Winnipeg where he had begun teaching in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba under the Deanship of John A. Russell. He became a Registered Architect, with the Manitoba Association of Architects, in 1962. In 1994, he retired as Full Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies.

Known for his energetic and imaginative teaching style, Claude was also prescient in his teachings of alternative energy sources and ecological awareness. A committed activist and believer in social justice, he was dedicated to disability issues and socially responsible design and was a leading force in the establishment of the Universal Design Institute at the University of Manitoba. Claude taught Environmental Studies at the inner city based Winnipeg Education Centre and served as Executive Director for the Canadian Institute for Barrier Free Design. He was also Chair of the Education Committee for the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies and received the Lifetime Achievement Winnipeg Accessibility Award for community leadership in Universal Design from the City of Winnipeg in 2007.

Claude's connection to Japan led him to organize the Shimizu-Manitoba Architect Exchange Fellowship which hosted Japanese architects for 18 years and sent young Canadian architects to Japan. He also spent two sabbaticals studying and living in Kyoto with Yoshiko where they enjoyed seeing the many sites and visiting with family and friends.

Green Blankstein Russell

  • Green Blankstein Russell
  • Corporate body
  • 1932-2004

Founded in 1932, the firm of Green, Blankstein, Russell (GBR) had a significant impact on the look and history of 20th architecture in Winnipeg. The original members of this prominent office were Lawrence J. Green (1899 - 1969) and Cecil N. Blankstein (1908 - 1989). Green and Blankstein were joined, in 1934, by G. Leslie Russell (1901 - 1977) and Ralph C. Ham (1902 - 1942). All were graduates of the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. In the 1930s the firm's most notable work was a series of housing proposals for the city of Winnipeg. Plans for this project were first submitted to the city of Winnipeg by Ham in 1934 but were delayed and ultimately went unbuilt. The firm's interest in neighbourhood planning bore fruit after the war with the design and construction Wildwood Park subdivision of 1946. Based on the plan of Radburn, New Jersey, this was the first residential garden suburb on the Prairies. Other GBR works from the this decade include the 1934 Sisters of Charity Provincial House and 1937 St. Boniface Home for the Aged & Infirm (151 Despins Street; now Résidence Despins), the 1937 Cinema Centre Building (293 Colony Street), the 1937 Mayfair Hotel in Portage la Prairie, the 1938 Mall Hotel (465 Portage Avenue) and the 1938 St. Boniface Hospital Out-Patient Building (Taché Avenue at Dollard Boulevard). In these projects a tendency toward clean-lines predominates, with an Art Moderne edge apparent in the designs of the Cinema Centre, Mayfair Hotel and Mall Hotel. During these early years the GBR offices were located in the Paris Building at 259 Portage Avenue.

The post-war era brought yet greater success and the firm became a central player in Winnipeg’s mid-century building boom. An important early work from this period was the Mall Medical Clinic (280 Memorial Boulevard, 1947), where the curved, sweeping entrance arcade evoked the era’s attraction to technology, movement and change. This was followed two years later by the distinctly Modernist Shaarey Zedek Synagogue (561 Wellington Crescent) – a project in which Blankstein worked with architect Charles Faurer. It was this building which prompted historian Kelly Crossman (in his article “North by Northwest: Manitoba Modernism, c. 1950”) to describe GBR as having “shifted virtually overnight from the tepid, uncertain manner common to mainstream Canadian architecture at that time to a confident and well-understood modernism.” Other projects of the 1940s included the Glendale Country Club (400 Augier Avenue, 1947), an addition to the University of Manitoba Engineering Building (1948), Winnipeg Stadium (1465 Maroons Road, 1949) and the Public Hospital of Hamiota, Manitoba (1949).

The 1950s witnessed a yet greater flurry of building with GBR executing such works as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (370 Hargrave Street, 1950) and the Greater Winnipeg Water District office (455 Ellice, 1950) – both displaying a mix of clean, orthogonal lines, concrete, brick and glazing. In 1951 the firm was responsible for two different projects which would prove highly important: the University of Manitoba’s Elizabeth Dafoe Library and the new GBR offices at 222 Osborne Street North. Both of these were executed in a decidedly Modernist approach, with large expanses of glass and open interiors. The principal in charge of design for the first was David Thordarson, a 1949 graduate of the University of Manitoba’s School of Architecture; the second was principally designed by Cecil Blankstein’s younger brother Morley Blankstein – a fellow 1949 University of Manitoba School of Architecture graduate.

Perhaps the highlight of this decade, however, was the 1954 win by the firm of a national competition for a new design for the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, juried by such prestigious figures as Alfred Barr (first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York), Eero Saarinen (the noted Finnish-American architect) and John Bland (director of the School of Architecture at McGill University). The winning scheme was a three-storey glass and steel International Style rectilinear block, the bottom floor an open, columned space. The design, which went unbuilt due to political reasons, was controversial; while some, including the jury, admired the structure, others derided it as “an overgrown sandwich set up on picks.” A likely influence on the design was German-American architect Mies van der Rohe, under whom the two GBR principals for this project – Morley Blankstein and Isadore Coop – had recently studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology. A later GBR project, the Manitoba Power Commission Building (1075 Portage Avenue, 1955) translates a certain aspect of the National Gallery’s design to the local scene. During this period, the firm also had a great impact on the creation of modernist churches and educational spaces with its seminal designs for St. George’s Anglican Church (168 Wilton Street, 1957) and St. Paul’s College and Chapel at the University of Manitoba (70 Dysart Road, 1958). One of the most prominent projects GBR was involved with in the 1950s was the new Winnipeg General Post Office (266 Graham Avenue, 1958), a combination of a tall, Graham Avenue-facing office block atop an open, columned ground level with a shorter, mail-sorting section to the south. Similar in its combination of glazing and masonry to the General Post Office is the 1959 Norquay Building (401 York Avenue), where two vast, gridded curtain walls are accompanied by tall Tyndall stone end walls. Another notable work of this period is Polo Park Shopping Centre, of 1959. A joint venture between Simpson-Sears and Polo Park Centre Ltd, this facility was an open-air mall with retail outlets – including a Simpson-Sears department store, a bowling centre and two grocery stores – as well as a host of public art. That same year GBR’s design for the Great West Life Building (60 Osborne Street North, 1959), a calm, dignified arrangement of Tyndall stone, granite, steel and glass, was completed across from the Manitoba Legislative grounds.

The 1960s brought more competition wins for Green, Blankstein, Russell. Undoubtedly the most significant of these was the firm’s victory in the national competition to design a new Winnipeg City Hall. The winning plan – for a structure at the site of what is, at present, Memorial Park (bounded by York Avenue, Memorial Boulevard, Broadway and Osborne Street North – was a two-part Modernist composition featuring a tall administrative block and shorter pavilion to serve as council chambers. Following pressure from the Premier, Duff Roblin, the site was switched back to that of the extant civic legislature on Main Street. This change prompted the current design, completed in 1964, by GBR’s Thordarson and Bernard Brown, which once again featured a tall administrative block, this time facing across an enclosed plaza toward the shorter council chambers pavilion. That same year GBR was also responsible for another highly prominent Modernist design – that of Winnipeg International Airport. The structure, part of a network of such terminals built for the Federal Department of Transport, represented a dramatically avant-garde change to the way travelers experienced the city – an up-to-date design reflective of its jet-age milieu. Again principally the design of Thordarson and Brown, Winnipeg International Airport was an organized, hierarchal work centred upon a large, open, arrivals and departures hall fronted by a black-steel and glass curtain wall and filled with public art. The building was demolished in 2012. The decade continued to be a successful one for Green, Blankstein, Russell as the firm entered into a partnership with fellow Winnipeg architectural practices Moody Moore Architects and Smith Carter Architects to form the Associated Architects for the Manitoba Cultural Centre to create the Centennial Concert Hall, the Museum of Man and Nature and the Planetarium. This multi-use complex, completed in 1968, was planned as part of a major redevelopment of the older downtown district directly across from GBR’s 1964 City Hall.

Over the following decades, GBR continued to practice actively and created such designs as those for the University of Manitoba’s Duff Roblin Building (190 Dysart Road, 1970), the Freshwater Institute (501 University Crescent, 1972), the National Research Council Building (435 Ellice Avenue, 1984) and the Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (89 Dafoe Road, 2002) – the latter designed by Herb Enns. Other notable GBR projects include Transcona Collegiate (1305 Winona Street, 1955), the Dayton Building (323 Portage Avenue, 1955), Christ the King Church (847 St. Mary's Road, 1956), Windsor Park Collegiate (1015 Cottonwood Road, 1961) and Willow Park Housing Co-op (71 Dorset Street, 1966).

In 2004 the 35-person offices of GBR Architects was acquired by Edmonton-based Stantec Inc.

Izen, Roy

  • WAF royizen
  • Person
  • 1936 - present

Julius Roy Izen was born July 10, 1936 and raised in Winnipeg. Izen graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture in 1960 and continued his studies with a graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this period, he was employed at Boston firm Salzberg & Le Blanc.

Upon his return to Winnipeg, he was employed by local firms Blankstein, Coop, Gillmore & Hanna, Weisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmore Hanna (later known as Number TEN Architectural Group), and Libling Michener and Associates (later known as LM Architects) as a project designer/architect.

Izen was a founding partner at IKOY. After colleagues Ron Keenberg, Stan Osaka, and Jim Yamashita earned an honourable mention for their entry in a national design competition for the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1968, Izen joined the group to found the new firm, IKOY Architechs. IKOY drew its moniker from the names of its principle designers: Roy Izen (I), Keenberg (K), Stan Osaka (O) and Yamashita (Y). During his time at IKOY, Izen worked on projects including the UMSU Building on the University of Manitoba campus (overall design, 1969) and the Hampton Green apartment complex.

After leaving IKOY, Izen worked with MMP Architects (Senior Design Associate, 1973-1983); Department of National Defense (Design Architect, 1984-1989); Public Works and Government Services Canada/Building Product Sector (Chief Design Architect, 1989-1991); Public Works and Government Services Canada/Real Property Services (Chief, Architectural Services, 1991-1997). In 1997, he opened his own office, J. Roy Izen (Principal Architect, 1997-1999).

In addition to displaying his creativity through his work in architecture, Izen’s eccentric and dynamic art style was captured in his sketches and collages, reflecting his humour and interest in popular culture. Izen also contributed to set design on Royal Winnipeg Ballet productions (ca. 1960s).

Izen married Ann Barbara Galpern in April, 1961. The couple had three sons, Michael, Jon, and Steve. Roy Izen relocated to Richmond, B.C after his retirement in 1999. In 2016, the family collaborated on a book to raise awareness of the importance of prostate exams, following Michael’s Stage IV prostate cancer diagnosis.

Marshall, Grant

  • WAF gmarshall
  • Person
  • 1931-2012

Charles Grant Marshall was born in Winnipeg on December 23, 1931. He graduated high school at West Kildonan Collegiate in 1948 and received the Governor General's Medal. Marshall's first love of fashion and costume design was not available for study in Canada at that time so he decided on his second choice, interior design.

Upon graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1955, with the Gold Medal, Marshall went on to teach at the faculty, serving as head of the department from 1989 until 1994. He loved teaching and was a well-liked professor at the Faculty of Interior Design. He was a founding member of the Interior Designers of Canada Foundation, and was later made a Fellow of the Professional Interior Designers of Winnipeg. Amongst his several awards and accolades he was particularly proud of his receipt of the University of Manitoba Alumni Jubilee Award (1980), and the Manitoba Premier's Award of Excellence for Interior Design, for his work on the Anne Ross Daycare Centre (1985). Marshall's first design practice, Design Associates later became Grant Marshall Interiors Limited. He designed thousands of beautiful residential interiors in Winnipeg, Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary, Victoria and Florida.

Marshall was a champion of the arts and theatre. He designed the sets and costumes for seven works of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as well as for the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers and Rainbow Stage. He was a board member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Rainbow Stage. He chaired the decorations committee of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, designing five gala fundraisers, and sat on the advisory committee of the Manitoba Craft Guild. Marshall was inducted into the Rainbow Stage Wall of Fame in 2009. He also volunteered his design time for several non-profit institutions including Ronald MacDonald House, where he was both a member of the steering committee and the designer. He sat on the board of the Mount Carmel Clinic and the Anne Ross Daycare Centre in Winnipeg.

Painting was Marshall’s passion and he was considered a superior landscape water colour painter. Numerous solo exhibitions included Leonard Marcoe Studio Gallery, Winnipeg (six shows, 1980 – 2012) and two exhibitions at the University of Manitoba. He also participated in group exhibitions at Site Gallery (1995-2012) and at the Charles Herman Gallery in Vancouver. One of the first private art galleries in Winnipeg was opened on Osborne Street by Grant Marshall, Bruce Head and Winston Leathers in the 1960s.

Sellors, Roy

  • Roy Sellors
  • Person
  • 1913-2005

Born in Winnipeg in 1913, Roy Sellors benefitted from early exposure to art and design through his father, Ernest W. Sellors. The elder Sellors was a watercolour artist who also produced exquisite and highly decorative porcelain works. He was the director of art for the Winnipeg School Division and spent his career teaching art in high schools.

Roy Sellors began his studies at the University of Manitoba in 1934 as a scholarship student, during a Depression in which few jobs existed even for the brightest students. Sellors's talents were notable: he won a national Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) student prize and the RAIC gold medal upon his graduation in 1936. His university years were spent under the direction of John A. Russell, who later became the Dean of the School of Architecture. It was Russell who procured a second scholarship for Sellors – and his close friend, Ray Nolan – to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Here he was further exposed to the dynamic American modernist style that Russell and Dean Milton Osborne (both Americans) were developing at the University of Manitoba. Sellors received his Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939.
Sellors returned to Winnipeg briefly to be what he described as “the first draughtsman” hired by the local firm Moody and Moore. He spent 16 months working there, from May 1936 to September 1937, and returned to the firm in the months before and after his time at MIT. Sellors registered with the Manitoba Association of Architects in 1940 while employed by Moody and Moore.

The Second World War further diminished employment opportunities for young architects, so Sellors travelled in the United States before landing a job with architect Wyatt Hedrich in Fort Worth, Texas. The firm received many contracts for war work such as designing barracks and training facilities, but most of its staff was called up to serve. Sellors had been classified as “4F unsuitable” (for war duty) due to a punctured eardrum, and so was able to work on a great variety of projects until his status as a foreigner working on military projects became an issue for the American government. Undaunted and much enriched by the experience, Sellors moved with his wife Theresa and their first child Paul to Minneapolis. There Sellors joined the firm Long and Thorshow Inc., which proved to be a good career move. It was from there that Dean Milton Osborne and Professor John A. Russell lured him back to the University of Manitoba to start lecturing in the fall of 1946.

The post-war years were an exciting time to be on the faculty at the university. Enrolment was climbing rapidly, facilities were desperately cramped and the Department of Architecture, under its new Dean John A. Russell, was poised for a major reorganization. Familiar as he was with both his alma mater and with modern practice in the United States, Sellors plunged into teaching design, construction, freehand drawing and professional practice. Of particular interest was his work in curriculum development. Sellors was made a Fellow of the RAIC in 1960; the only Manitoban so honoured that year. As a key member of the RAIC Education Committee, he was instrumental in developing the minimum Syllabus Program still in use by the organization. From 1964 on, Roy Sellors was the Curriculum Chair for the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture, and during that period the present six-year curriculum was introduced. As well, he was instrumental in having the new Faculty of Architecture building renamed the Russell Building in 1967. Dean Russell died on December 28, 1966, thereby placing Sellors into the position of dean. He served in that capacity until resigning in 1972 to fulfil a long-planned sabbatical trip in Europe with his wife Theresa. He returned to continue as senior professor with the Faculty until his retirement in 1978.

When Sellors and his wife returned to Canada from Minneapolis in 1946, they had two children and three more were soon to follow. They purchased a home in Fort Garry in Wildwood Park, the new garden subdivision developed by Hubert Bird and designed by Cecil Blankstein of Green, Blankstein and Russell. Sellors recalls how the area flooded in 1950 forcing his family to take refuge first with John Russell and later at a cottage. Bird Construction set up a company to repair the houses on a cost basis, helping the fledgling community get back on its feet. Meanwhile both Sellors and Russell picked up lots nearby on South Drive which speculators dumped on the market at deflated prices, following the flood. It was on these new lots that Roy Sellors designed his subsequent family home at 717 South Drive and that of his colleague John Russell at 740 South Drive. The houses are similar, both with floors of precast joists with concrete slabs, exposed wood beam ceilings angled down in the living and dining areas, with natural wood finishing and cork tile throughout the two interiors. Built-in bookcases, floor to ceiling windows, flush mounted fireplaces and attached sun porches make these dwellings fine examples of modernist domestic architecture from the mid-1950s.

Besides a scattering of houses about the province, Roy Sellors’s designs include the Selkirk Memorial on the northern tip of Memorial Boulevard, the Transcona Library, and 14 churches, mainly in Winnipeg. While his favourite church is Our Lady of Victory Memorial Church at Osborne Street and Arnold Avenue, he is best known for St. Bernadette Church at 820 Cottonwood. William P. Thompson describes St. Bernadette as embodying the “structural innovation of experimental materials,” with great laminated buttresses that descend externally at shallow angles, supporting the church on a raised foundation with glazing fully open on each end of the building. The Osborne Street structure, featured in the RAIC Journal, has a cruciform plan with the altar at the centre, lit from above by a raised lantern. By turning the altar to face the congregation (here on three sides) Sellors anticipated the recommendation of Vatican Two by nearly a decade. Sellors further observed that he enjoyed the way his design of St. Vital Catholic Church on Pembina Highway, low and spreading in its mass, seemed particularly compatible with the prairie landscape.

Roy Sellors was a member of the Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA) for more than 50 years, serving two terms on Council and doing extensive committee work. In 1966, he was re-elected vice-chair of the Canadian Housing Design Council, an advisory body to the National Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. In January 1968, Sellors, then Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, headed a three-man MAA jury for an awards program, the first of its kind in Canada. The 45 entries were assessed on the basis of the fully coordinated architectural solution, including the many planning issues imposed and the resulting design solution. The new building materials and technologies, issues of efficiency and scale, site location and parking were all evolving elements, and this forum provided a good opportunity for peers to examine various resolutions of the real needs of the owner and of the community. Smith Carter won for Place d’Acceuil (the main gate) at Expo ’67, and for the Pan-Am Pool; Libling Michener for the Manitoba Teachers’ Society headquarters on Portage Avenue; and, Etienne Gaboury for Messiah Lutheran Church on Rouge Street.

Roy Sellors passed away in April 2005.