University of Calgary

Mid-century icons on display in TFDL

UToday HomeJanuary 23, 2013

Toronto City Hall, 1961. Photo courtesy of Panda Associates fonds, Canadian Architectural Toronto City Hall, 1961. Photo courtesy of Panda Associates fonds, Canadian Architectural Panda Associates, one of the few Canadian commercial photography firms devoted to architecture, played a major role in documenting the built environment of Canada while the country and its architecture developed its own voice. Their work documents the beginning and growth of Modern architecture in Canada and beyond, and also provides a visual record of a more traditional architectural heritage.

A digital exhibition of 50 iconic Panda photographs, drawn from the Canadian Architectural Archives housed in Libraries and Cultural Resources, will be on view on the second floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL), Feb. 1-28 as part of Exposure 2013. The exhibition is curated by Linda Fraser and Geoffrey Simmins.

Covering the period from 1946 to 1992, the Panda Collection includes the work of prominent twentieth-century Canadian architects such as Arthur Erickson, Raymond Moriyama, John B. Parkin Associates, as well as the Canadian work of internationally acclaimed figures such as I.M. Pei, Mies van der Rohe, Viljo Revell, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill.

The inclusion of interior and exterior views, construction photographs, competition drawings and models, as well as diverse projects by a wide variety of architects, gives this collection considerable scope. The collection provides a significant portrait of twentieth-century Canada, and provides a visual record of five decades of Canadian architectural and cultural heritage.

The fifty images selected from the Panda Collection reflect Canadian society after the Second World War. Organized by themes of gendered spaces, postwar optimism, the modern Canadian city, idealism and paradise, and the marketing of a Canadian dream, this exhibition compares the built environment in both urban and suburban settings, juxtaposing building types ideal to each. The photographs represent the birth of the modern Canadian city with soaring high rises, airports, office and apartment buildings, religious buildings, and department stores, and the rise of the Canadian suburbs with single family houses, shopping malls, factories, and schools – all reflective of how Canadians lived, dreamed, defined themselves, and how our cities and suburbs developed.