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2005 10 20
Smart Money
The University of McGill recently announced that Canadian architecture patron extraordinaire Gerald Sheff has donated 1 million dollars to its School of Architecture. The funds will be used to set up an endowed chair that will underwrite the costs of having "world renowned architectural leaders" teach at the school. When asked why he did not supply funds that would allow for the construction of a new building or physical improvements to the School, Mr. Sheff responded:

"When I was an undergrad [at McGill's School of Architecture] I had a teacher named Gordon Weber. A fascinating man, very provocative. He challenged us and made everyone see the world in a new light. My hope is that this endowment will give other students that same experience".

Bravo, Mr. Sheff, for supporting big ideas; it takes a strong ego and a visionary mind not to want a building put up in your name.

Reading back over the press releases for the announcement I had to admit that when I read "world renowned architectural leaders" my first (unfortunate) assumptions were that these brilliant architects would not be Canadian.

During my time as an architecture student at the University of Toronto, I too had the opportunity to be taught by many brilliant professors. Many of these professors were Canadian and many of them were teaching on a part-time, contract basis. At one point, a possition opened up for a Canadian based architect. A number of very talented and smart Canadians applied. All were turned down. The school then went on to re-launch its call for submissions, eventually hiring an Americian...

So here is a challenge to McGill: for the first 10 years of the endownment ONLY hire Canadian architects who happen to have international reputations to teach under the Sheff chair. Then at the end of the ten years count up how many of those same people had been invited to teach at other universities outside the country. I bet we will begin to see more Canadians lecturing and working on the international architectural currcit.

Sure, it's a bit isolationist, but I think Mr. Sheff, the director of a very sucsessful investment managment company would agree, that if you don't bet, you can't win.
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 10/20 at 01:40 PM
  1. Everybody knows Americans are better architects than Canadians . . . look at Frank Gehry — ok, maybe not Frank.

    Posted by Stan Wayne  on  10/20  at  05:17 PM
  2. Speaking as a recent graduate of the McGill School of Architecture, virtually anybody would be an improvement on the quality of teaching staff, whether they have an international reputation or not.

    Posted by  on  10/20  at  07:37 PM
  3. meeeooowwww!!! another happy architecture grad.

    Posted by Stan Wayne  on  10/20  at  07:42 PM

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