Friday, July 24, 2009

Imagine Montreal Without Old Montreal or Mount Royal Park

Happily, we don't have to entertain such nightmare scenarios, thanks in large part to visionary architect Sandy van Ginkel.
There was a time in Montreal when the powers that be in city hall and development circles saw the cobbled streets of Old Montreal as a slum ripe for urban renewal. In the early 1960s, a plan to build an expressway through the heart of the old city was formulated. Van Ginkel is credited with persuading the city's first urban planning director, Claude Robillard, of the cultural and historical value of Old Montreal.(Duh!) The Ville Marie Expressway was dug a few blocks north and Old Montreal was saved.
It wasn't his only gift to the city. He worked on the master plan for Expo 67 and saw promise in a young architecture student named Moshe Safdie. With van Ginkel's help, Safdie went on to design Habitat 67. He opposed development on Mount Royal. His other accomplishments included designing new towns in Sweden and the Netherlands after World War II and a hydrogen-powered bus used in the city of Vail. Did I mention he was also a member of the Dutch Resistance during the war?
Van Ginkel died on July 5 at the age of 89. The Globe and Mail has a nice obituary here. Canadian Architect weighs in here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, in an effort to cut down on spam, I will now be moderating comments prior to publication. If you're a real person with a real comment or question, I'll get to you as soon as I can. Thanks!