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A New Phase for the Canadian Centre for Architecture: Giovanna Borasi appointed Director

A New Phase for the Canadian Centre for Architecture: Giovanna Borasi appointed Director

Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) has announced big changes for 2020. After nearly 15 years, current director Mirko Zardini will step down at the end of 2019. Stepping in is Giovanna Borasi, currently Chief Curator, who will bring to the role her alternative ways of practicing architecture and her research around the social and political issues on urbanism and the built environment. Borasi’s experience of thinking architecture is admirable: the numerous exhibitions she has curated have helped to (re)view the different materials, voices, and practices that help to create a critical and yet public voice for the discipline. One such example is her Out of the Box series, whose current iteration on the archive of Gordon Matta-Clark we recently highlighted as one of our NESS picks. The series explores archives actively, allowing for new discoveries and arguments to emerge. Under the guiding hand of Borasi, we have no doubt that the CCA will continue to be one of the utmost institutions for architecture today. You can read more about the changes below.  

Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini

Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini. Courtesy of CCA.

Founded in 1979 by Phyllis Lambert, the Canadian Centre for Architecture has pursued its mission of making architecture a public concern for 40 years. As a center for research in the field as well as a public museum with a singularly extensive collection, the institution is recognized nationally and internationally for its incisive voice in the discourse on the built environment.

Bruce Kuwabara, Chair of the Board of Trustees has announced that Giovanna Borasi, Chief Curator of the CCA since 2014, will assume the directorship in January 2020, commenting that “The CCA will continue to grow its intellectual field, building on the critical excellence and impact that has been developed under the directorship of Mirko Zardini. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with our next director, Giovanna Borasi, who has been integral to the curatorial vision of the CCA as its Chief Curator.”

Lambert’s insight and vision and her commitment to architecture and the urban realm at large were embraced and extended by Zardini during the course of his directorship. He succeeded in broadening the CCA’s international reach and stimulating the local audience through provocative public initiatives and programs, refocusing its curatorial and publication strategies to encompass enquiry into emergent issues in the field, animating the CCA Study Centre and scholarly research programs, and expanding its remarkable collection—particularly in the realm of archives. Under his direction, architects and historians including Jean-Louis Cohen, Kenneth Frampton, Abalos & Herreros, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Alessandro Poli, Umberto Riva, Álvaro Siza Vieira, and Anthony Vidler have, for example, donated their archives. Zardini’s Archaeology of the Digital initiative, launched in 2011 led to donations of other important works by architects including Foreign Office, Brian Boigon, Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, UnStudio, and Shoei Yoh. It also expanded the reach of the CCA website as a digital platform—in effect, a second institutional site requiring no new construction.

Giovanna Borasi, Phyllis Lambert, and Mirko Zardini. Courtesy CCA.

Reflecting on his tenure as director, Zardini commented, “I never aspired to become ‘director’ of anything, per se, but I couldn’t resist the challenge of assuming this position and the possibility of activating the CCA as an engine for exploration and research at the forefront of architectural thinking and practice. My aim has always been to advance new and different questions within the scope of the institution’s core mission to raise public awareness of the role of architecture in contemporary society, and to establish a new platform from which to articulate an agenda for architecture in the 21st century. This involved transforming the CCA into the provocative and imaginative institution Phyllis Lambert originally envisioned. My directorship would not have been possible without her support, and my goals for the institution could never have been realized without the expertise and sustained commitment of the CCA team over these many years. Intellectual collaboration among the network of architects, urban and landscape designers, historians, and critics who share our values and generate new ideas has been equally indispensable, and likewise the enormous generosity of architects who decided to donate their archives to the CCA.”

Phyllis Lambert sees this moment of transition in leadership at the CCA as confirmation of vital continuity, affirming the institution’s underlying mission through acknowledgment of its past and present projects while at the same time opening the way for new priorities that will unfold and inform the CCA’s agenda for decades to come, ensuring that it remains one of the most relevant platforms and voices in the international conversation on architecture and the built domain.

“Mirko upheld my original mission and then took it further by transforming the model of research at the CCA, strategically growing its collection, diversifying its audience, and taking bold strides into the digital realm. Throughout his tenure, he and Giovanna Borasi worked to create and contribute to contemporary research and debate on architecture. I join my fellow members of the Board of Trustees of the CCA in thanking Mirko for his many years of inspired leadership, and I look forward to the new ideas and inquiries Giovanna will bring to the table as she takes the helm of the institution.”

Giovanna Borasi commented, “It is thrilling to anticipate assuming directorship of the CCA and I very much look forward to leading the institution into its next phase. I am deeply appreciative of the confidence expressed by the Board of Trustees with respect to my appointment. I am also grateful to Phyllis Lambert for her inspiration and constant support. I would especially like to thank Mirko Zardini, with whom I have closely worked in different roles over many years, for his leadership and institutional vision. Building on the CCA’s foundation, he has created the conditions for the CCA to become an independent platform, recognized today worldwide for its critical voice in the discourse on architecture.”

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