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What defines Canadian architecture?

Canadian Architecture: Evolving a Cultural Identity by Leslie Jen surveys the country’s most accomplished architectural firms, whose work enhances cities and landscapes across Canada’s geographically varied expanse. Here author Leslie Jen speaks to Urban Toronto in order to provide a complete picture of contemporary Canadian architecture.

Canadian architecture, she argues, largely responds to its context, whether it be climate, geography, or culture, and so requires a regional approach, both in theory and in practice. With that in mind, the book is organized not by building, but rather by their builders. Jen has compiled a collection of 33 of the leading architectural firms across the country that represents a cross-section of contemporary Canadian architecture, highlighting two notable projects from each. All firms profiled have a roster of awards to back up their accomplishments, and all are still currently practicing architecture.

What binds together the diverse collection of architects and buildings in the book is the profound impact that the projects have had on the everyday life of Canadians. Whether it be providing housing, a sense of community, a place to congregate or celebrate, or a place to receive care, each building and their respective designers has had a significant impact on the built environment that defines so much of our daily lives. It is through this lens that Jen captures a current snapshot of architecture in Canada.

This is an abridged version of the feature with Leslie Jen which ran on Urban Toronto.

September 10, 2021
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