University of Calgary

Environmental design

September 9, 2010

Is "nice enough" good enough for The City of Calgary?

by Josh Taron

Maybe being “a nice place to live” isn’t reason enough to live in a place these days.

While Calgary certainly is nice enough, I’m not convinced that there aren't better cities out there. I'm definitely not buying the idea that Calgary is one of the world’s Great Cities . . . and I’m pretty sure most people would agree.

So what can be done to make life in the city more desirable and distinctive? How can we go about tackling the problems that face the city as it continues to grow and prosper? Where can we look to find answers that go beyond the common and clumsy, but rather toward the innovative and daring; the bold approaches that come to truly define and constitute the character of great cities? I’d like to think that Calgary can, wants to, and needs to tackle these questions head on.

It is in this spirit that the Design Matters public lecture series kicks off its 2010/2011 season by bringing the globally renowned architecture critic, Jeffrey Kipnis, to Calgary on the evening of September 13th at the Uptown Theater.

In the context of environmental and economic catastrophe, Kipnis is interested in defending the possibilities afforded by the last several decades of conceptual architecture and the projects that accompany them. Kipnis’ immeasurable impact on the work during these past decades positions him not only as a uniquely qualified expert on the subject, but also as an accomplice in what Kipnis says some have come to view as an “inexcusably self-indulgent if not immoral” architecture. They are his words, if not his opinion.

I can think of no better time, no better place, and no better person to discuss the urgent importance of conceptual architecture and its role in shaping the future of cities than Jeffrey Kipnis.

So if you're a person who is happy with the city being nice enough, stay home. If you're not one of those people, I look forward to seeing you at the Uptown on the 13th.

- Josh Taron is the Director of the Design Matters lecture series. He maintains a research+design+build practice, Synthetiques and is an Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the U of Cy where he co-directs the Laboratory for Integrative Design.

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