I just finished listening to a very inspiring interview with Phyllis Lambert. So wonderful to hear her thoughts on ‘The Seagram Building’, (for which she acted as director of planning). Lambert has just come out with a new book of photography – ‘observation is a constant that underlines all approaches‘. Also found at Amazon Books
At 92 years old, the founder of the Canadian Centre of Architecture (CCA) lived through the rise of modernism, the era of highway building and urban renewal, and the backlash that led to a resurgence of high-density, neighborhood-focused development.
And she helped lead the way. Born in Montreal to the Bronfman family, which built the Seagram’s liquor empire, Lambert was a talented artist from an early age.
Lambert hired Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-born architect whose minimalist glass-and-steel houses had caught her attention. Under her influence, the Bronfmans gave Mies an unlimited budget, and the resulting tower—a sleek, black-hued rebuke to the fusty architecture of Park Avenue, fronted by a rare bit of public open space—became one of the world’s most influential buildings after it was completed in 1958.
“My own use of the camera began in 1954 as I started to think about what a new building in New York – the Seagram building – could be. While in Rome during Easter, through the lens of a camera, I had hardly used, I began to observe the quality of buildings: how they sat on the land, their articulation, and how architectural details related to a building as a whole.” – Phyllis Lambert
Here’s a link to CBC’s Radio Interview: Listen Here
The Current with Matt Galloway – March 16, 2023: Renowned Canadian architect Phyllis Lambert on how to build better cities