Edmonton and the Bauhaus

The Centennial of the Bauhaus (1919-2019)
Presented for the 2019 Design Week at Harcourt House + the 2019 Alberta Culture Days
The Main + The Art Incubator Galleries. September 20 – September 29, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, September 20, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Free Admission.
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton

Project presented in partnership with the Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary
+ Maltby & Prins Architects
+ Debicki Speta Design + Henderson Inglis Partridge Architects
+ KRP Kingston Ross Pasnak LLP Chartered Accountants

2019 marks the Centennial of the Bauhaus School of Design. In celebration of the Bauhaus School’s unparalleled and enduring impact, Harcourt House Artist Run Centre organizes and presents the exhibition “Edmonton and the Bauhaus” to commemorate this landmark birthday during the 2019 Design Week at Harcourt House and the 2019 Alberta Culture Days. This exhibition will be featured in the Main and Art Incubator Galleries from September 20 to September 29, 2019.

Bauhaus had a decisive influence on international Modernism and is regarded as one of the most important educational institutions of the 20th century. Founded by an avant-garde architect and thinker, Walter Gropius (1883-1969) in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, the Bauhaus School included workshops for crafts, architecture, and graphic arts. The German school represented the quintessence of modernity and the functionalist ideal. Its impulses are still at work in todays architecture, industrial design, and in the curricula at post-secondary visual arts schools around the globe.
The Bauhaus and the International Style principles in design have played critical role in the post-World War II architecture in Edmonton. During the 1950s and 1960s, Edmonton became a leader in Modern building due to an oil boom in 1947, which spurred development and created a desire within city planners and businesses to appear both modern and progressive.

Curated by Jacek Malec, Harcourt House’s Executive Director, “Edmonton and the Bauhaus” provides a tangible link to Bauhaus’s key principles in modernist architectural design through the examination of four Bauhaus-influenced architectural projects in Edmonton designed and built in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Rule Wynn and Rule Architects, and Dennis & Freda O’Connor Architects, two of Edmonton’s avant-garde architectural firms. The architectural designs of Rule Wynn and Rule are exemplified in the exhibition by: the AGT Building (currently known as the Legislature Annex Building), the Northwest Utilities Building (known as the Milner Building), and the Ellis Building, located in Edmonton’s Oliver District at 10123 – 112th Street NW, one block away from Harcourt House Artist Run Centre. Established in 1938, Rule Wynn and Rule is noted for its prominent role in bringing modern architecture to Alberta. Likewise, the architectural design by Dennis & Freda O’Connor Architects is represented in the exhibition by the minimalist form of the Harcourt House Building. Established in 1957, the firm is credited for its several innovative, award-winning architectural projects in Edmonton and Alberta. In line with the Bauhaus tradition, their commercial and residential projects are extremely functional with a great deal of flowing space.

Drawn from the impressive collections of the Canadian Architectural Archives at the University of Calgary and the Edmonton-based Maltby & Prins Architects (successors of Dennis & Freda O’Connor Architects), the exhibition showcases rarely seen architectural drawings of these Edmonton’s iconic buildings, photographs, and other archival material. In addition, the exhibition also features reference material on the history of the Bauhaus School, along with rarely seen archival photographs from the Bauhaus era by Lucia Moholy, and the examples of the iconic furniture designs by the architects and designers associated with the Bauhaus School and the International Style including: Gerrit Rietveld, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray, and Le Corbusier.

Lastly, the exhibition celebrates the artistic achievements of female artists and designers associated with or influenced by the Bauhaus School of Design and, especially, the prominent place Freda O’Connor had held in architectural and design community in Edmonton and in Canada as the first woman ever elected to Alberta Association of Architects in 1966, and later, in 1974, to be elected President of Alberta Association of Architects – the first female architect in Canada to be so honoured.

The exhibition will be officially launched on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 7 pm at the Harcourt House Artist Run Centre as a prelude to the 2019 Design Week at Harcourt House and the 2019 Alberta Culture Days. The exhibition will be open to the public daily from 10 am to 5 pm between Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 29, 2019. Free admission.

Special Event for the 2019 Alberta Culture Days:
Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 1 pm: “Edmonton and the Bauhaus Tour”– Please join us for the walking tour on the selected Modernist buildings in Edmonton to be conducted by Craig Henderson, architect, historian of modern and contemporary architecture, and the principal of Henderson Inglis Partridge Architects. The tour will begin at 1 pm at Harcourt House Building (10215 – 112th Street NW; Edmonton) and will continue to view and discuss the selected projects by Rule Wynn and Rule Architects: the Ellis Building, the Northwest Utilities Building (currently: the Milner Building), the AGT Building (currently the Legislature Annex Building) and other significant architectural landmarks. The tour is free of charge.

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