May 27, 2009

Queen's new home for the performing arts

[Updated] Thanks to infrastructure funding announced recently from federal, provincial, and civic governments, plus some very generous private gifts, Queen's is set to break ground on the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. The striking waterfront complex is designed by Norwegian firm Snohetta and Canadian firm ema. 

Features of the Centre include a 550-seat concert hall, studio theatre, art gallery, screening room, and cafe. This will be the centrepiece in achieving Queen's vision to create an "arts campus": integrated curriculum and space for the School of Music, Department of Film & Media, and the Department of Drama. 

May 26, 2009

Marriage in the U.S.A.

Today the California Supreme Court upheld the legality of Proposition8, which defines marriage as being solely for one man and one woman. Thankfully, the 18,000 marriages between same-sex couples that did occur in California will remain valid. Yet, this is bittersweet news for the fight for equality.

May 22, 2009

Spring KAMP

In Spring 2006, Marney McDiarmid, an HIV educator at HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS), and Stevenson Fergus, an assistant professor at Queen's University, conducted a research project among gay and bisexual men in Kingston and the surrounding area. They had interest in researching the antecedents and consequences of gay and bisexual men's community involvement in smaller cities, their experiences of heterosexism and homophobia, and the effects of stigma experienced by HIV-positive gay and bisexual men.The Kingston Area Men's Project was born (KAMP). In order to share that information with the community, KAMP asked Jim Verburg and Ryan Crouchman to produce a video. This video is the result of the findings of KAMP. 

May 21, 2009

He Built this City

Arthur Erickson 
(June 14, 1924 - May 20, 2009)

Despite no real talent at drawing I think somewhere inside me is an architect waiting to emerge. Obviously, that was an interest I did not pursue, but I have been an amateur architectural historian since my days as an undergraduate student. I am fascinated by our built environment and how we consciously and unconsciously engage with our buildings and created environments. 

So, it was with sadness I awoke to learn that one of Canada's most celebrated architects has passed away. 

I am not a fan of all of his work, but he has certainly left us with some gems and other works that challenge us nonetheless. Attached are pictures of four of his best-known structures. I think Roy Thompson Hall (1982) [pic 2] is one of his very best, an iconic statement on Toronto's skyline. And his building for Canada's chancery in Washington, DC (1989) [pic 4] is breathtaking and always fills me with pride.  

Within Canada Erickson is also known for his institutional architecture, notably Simon Fraser University (1967) [pic 1] and University of Lethbridge (1971) [pic 3]. These were celebrated when completed, for they matched the design ideals of the day. I admire their form and structure but these styles are too brutal an aesthetic for my taste. While they are facinating statements on their respective sites, they possess an almost penal colony quality, and are rather overwhelming for the user.

May 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Workspace

Okay, so bear with me. The steps in the attached photo are the ones I walk up every morning to get to my office in the centre section of a building called "Summerhill" here at Queen's. 

As it turns out Summerhill turns 170 this year, making it the oldest building at Queen's. It is also considered one of the finest examples of 19th century country villas in Canada.  

However, Summerhill wasn't purchased by Queen's until 1853 as the nascent college had been renting various buildings around town since it began operations in 1842. As a result Summerhill had quite the variety of incarnations for its first decade or so, including its original purpose as a family home; then the Sydenham Inn, space for committees of the Parliament of Canada, and a temporary home to the Midland Grammar School.  

When Queen's offered its first session in its new permanent home, in October 1854, Summerhill welcomed 31 students. Summerhill housed the college's library, and classrooms for Theology, Mathematics, and Practical Philosophy. A year later the Medical School took two rooms in the east wing.  By 1858, a new building had been erected for the Medical School and a new professor of Chemistry and Natural History took over in the east wing. By 1860 Queen's had 64 students in Arts & Theology and classes were now also offered in Literature and History. In fact Summerhill would serve as the entire home for Arts & Theology at Queen's until the college built its third building, Arts Building (now called Theological Hall), opened in October 1880.    

May 14, 2009

Our Room with a View...Florence

"I brought you, on purpose, round, through the richest overture, and farrago of tweedledum and tweedledee, I could find in Florence". John Ruskin, Mornings in Florence (1886)

When in Rome...

Here are pictures of the studio apartment we have rented in Rome, just two streets over from the Colosseum...

May 12, 2009

Fools Rush In

I ran into an acquitance at lunch today. We sat on the board of the now defunct PIC Press. I had not seen him in a while, and it turns out he has co-founded an apiculture business here in the region (that's bee keeping for us laymen). How neat!! Check out their business site,  Seldom Fools Apiculture.

May 1, 2009

A Guide to University Architecture

I stumbled across this hilarious guide to contemporary university architecture [click image to enlarge] and couldn't help but think about the examples here on the campus of my alma mater and work place, Queen's.  Considering I will be leading campus tours for the official Spring Reunion weekend later this month, this guide will no doubt be at the back of my mind. Click on the following building names to see a few Queen's examples of the differing styles:

Red Brick Wonderland: Agnes Etherington House
Actually, there's very little red brick at Queen's as our medium of choice is grey limestone. This Georgian-style beauty (circa 1879) is the historical wing of our campus art gallery. 

Gothic Envyist: Gordon HallDouglas Library
Gordon Hall (1911) was recently restored to its original design, after an ugly 1960s reno to its fourth storey. Opened in 1924 Douglas Library features all the Oxbridge elements that colleges in the New World were wanting to ape: stone, arched windows, finials, and a tower. 

Completed in 1969, these buildings are blights on an otherwise gorgeous campus, the latter being so shockingly ugly that it makes the fact that it is the home of the Psychology department bring fits of laughter. 

Modernist "It Cost HOW Much?": Chernoff Hall and Stauffer Library
Chernoff Hall is a 12,000 sq/m Chemistry complex, built at a cost of $57-million. Covering over 5 acres in area, with some 50kms of shelving, Stauffer Library opened in 1997 at a cost of $42-million. 

The Campus Tower: Grant Hall
Completed in 1905, with monies raised primarily by students, Grant Hall's distinctive clock tower graces the campus with its dignified presence.  

Window details--Gothic: Douglas Library

Window Details--Romanesque: Ontario Hall and  Theological Hall

This just in...

1. According to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists.

2. Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, following Rush Limbaugh's cue, suggested on Tuesday that President Obama was to blame for the "swine flu" crisis.

3. The Wall Street Journal reports that A/H1N1 may have actually originated in the U.S.

4. An Ohio State University report finds that conservatives are less likely to understand that Steven Colbert is using satire when making political statements on his eponymous TV show.

5. North Carolina representative Virginia Foxx, testifying against the expansion of federal hate crimes legislation, suggested that Matthew Shepard was merely the victim of a robbery, and that suggestions that he was targeted because he was gay were all a part of "a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

6. During the April 24 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage (owner of the energy drink RockStar) stated: "Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico."

7. When questioned recently at Stanford University about the authorization of waterboarding and torture during the George W. Bush administration, Condoleeza Rice replied "The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."