Douglas Joseph Cardinal
Douglas Joseph Cardinal, architect (born at Calgary, Alta 7 Mar 1934).
Douglas Joseph Cardinal
Douglas Joseph Cardinal, architect (born at Calgary, Alta 7 Mar 1934). Douglas Cardinal, recognized for his commitment to excellence and his unique creative vision, is credited with creating an indigenous style of Canadian architecture, characterized by gracious organic forms, which continually challenged the most advanced engineering standards.
Son of Joseph Trefflé Cardinal, a man of Blackfoot ancestry who was a forest ranger and game warden, and Frances Marguerite Rach, a nurse, who was the daughter of a German immigrant and a member of a large Métis clan, the Morin family, Douglas Cardinal was the eldest of 8 children. He grew up in mainstream communities and attended St Joseph's Convent residential school near Red Deer, Alta, where he was immersed in literature and the fine arts of drawing and music.
Accepted by the School of Architecture at the University of British Columbia in 1952, he studied there for 3 years. But it was the University of Texas School of Architecture at Austin that provided the intellectually open, yet rigorous, training he needed to develop the complex, undulating architecture for which he is now internationally acclaimed. He graduated with honours in 1963.
Like many of the renowned western Canadian architects developing during the 1950s, Douglas Cardinal sought to interpret the teachings of European modernism by investigating a regional modification of the International Style. He was particularly drawn to the modernity of architects such as Hans Poelzig and Erich Mendelsohn, and his mature work harmonizes an attraction to Italian and Spanish baroque buildings with the expressionist arm of European modern architecture that reached its ascendancy in Germany just after the First World War. Cardinal was to synthesize his direct experience of architecture in western Canada (Prairie expressionism in particular) and the neo- baroque of Mexican church architecture, which he would encounter during his travels in the late 1950s, with his formal training in architecture and the history of architecture. This knowledge was conflated with his experience of the terrain of western Canada, in particular the Plains and the Badlands of Alberta, in the development of the curvilinear massing that is a signatory feature of his buildings.
In Cardinal's architecture, principles of seamless unity, sustainability, community, green buildings and ecological design are interwoven with his strong sense for Nature. The resulting designs are typified in award-winning projects such as ST MARY'S CHURCH in Red Deer, Alta (1965-68). His desire to integrate his architecture with these principles brought on experimentation with computer-aided drafting and design systems (CADD). It was during the construction of St Mary's that the Cardinal firm began using CADD. By 1981 he was identified as a world pioneer and leader of CADD, and his firm was selected by the federal government as a demonstration site to test and advance Canadian CADD technology.
Douglas Cardinal's principal public buildings include Grande Prairie Regional College in Grande Prairie, Alta (1972-76), the Alberta Government Services Building at Ponoka (1977) and the St Albert Civic and Cultural Centre at St Albert, Alta (1983), as well as numerous schools, all of which continued the curving wall exterior adapted to ever-increasing complex functional programs.
Throughout the 1990s Cardinal undertook a leadership role by providing architectural definition to the aims and aspirations of Amerindian communities. These projects included, among others, the Saskatchewan Federated Indian College master plan and concept design for expansion, Regina, Sask (1990); the Institute of American Indian Arts master plan, Sante Fe, New Mexico (1993); Kainai Multi-Purpose Cultural Resource Centre, Blood Indian Reserve, Alberta (1996); and a master plan and design of principal public buildings for the Cree Village of Oujé-Bougoumou in northern Québec (1990), which earned a United Nation's award of excellence for its environmentally sensitive concepts and was celebrated at Expo2000 in Hanover, Germany.
Cardinal's first project outside Alberta and the Northwest Territories brought Prairie expressionism to central Canada through the design for the CANADIAN MUSEUM OF CIVILIZATION (CMC) in Hull, Québec, inaugurated in 1989. Acknowledged internationally as a technologically complex building that reframed museum architecture, the CMC is a culturally significant building that was designed to accommodate a shifting perspective on Amerindian history and national culture at the end of the 20th century. In 1993 Cardinal was awarded the commission for the National Museum of the American Indian on the Smithsonian Institution Mall in Washington, DC, which resulted in an outstanding design, finished after Cardinal's exclusion from the project and surrounded by controversy.
Renovation of the Grotski Residence by Douglas Cardinal contributed to its designation as a municipal historic site. The designation recognizes Cardinal's "organic design aesthetic," one theme among urban post-war development in Edmonton.
Other accomplishments include the design of the Cree Cultural Institute (2011) in Quebec and the Meno-ya-win Health Centre (2010) in Northern Ontario. His works include several Masterplans, a student centre at the University of Saskatchewan, a stadium in Regina and prefabricated/modular housing. Cardinal has also designed a gallery to house the permanent collection of the great Canadian artist Alex JANVIER in Cold Lake, Alta. These projects show how Cardinal's material palette has become much more varied, revealing his willingness to continually explore.
In 1990 Douglas Cardinal was awarded the ORDER OF CANADA, in 1992 the Canada Council Molson Prize for the Arts and in 1995 the National Aboriginal Achievement Award. In 1999 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the highest architectural honour bestowed upon an individual in Canada. He was awarded the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2001 and in 2002 he received the Golden Jubilee Medal in honour of Her Majesty the Queen's 50th Anniversary. By the year 2011 he had been granted 12 honorary doctorates in recognition of his significant contribution to excellence in architecture, by every major Canadian university.
Douglas Cardinal's office is located in Ottawa. The Douglas Cardinal collection of drawings and models is archived at Carleton University, beginning with his work in 1984. Other material is in the University of Calgary Archives.
Trevor Boddy, The Architecture of Douglas Cardinal (1989); University of Calgary, The Douglas Cardinal Architectural Drawings: An Inventory of the Collection at the Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary Library (1997).