Known for their designs for Winnipegs City Hall (1964) and the Winnipeg International Airport (1964), Green Blankstein Russell (GBR) and Associates, founded in 1932, were a key influencer of Winnipegs landscape and pioneered the inclusion of women and minority groups in architectural practice. Their work illustrated through the compilation of more than 300 images and archival documents will be honoured with the launch of Green Blankstein Russell and Associates: An Architectural Legacy, written by Jeffrey Thorsteinson and Brennan Smith.
Easton Lexier, a structural engineer, worked at GBR for more than fifty years. Lexier, who wrote the foreward to the book, will join alumni from all over Canada in Winnipeg to honour the books release.
GBR, in no small measure, encouraged and fostered the talent and diverse staff that created the architectural record that is explored in the following pages, writes Lexier.
The book, commissioned by the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, aims to educate the public about the innovative minds at work at GBR, who helped shape the architecture and industry of design in Winnipeg. The firm was a kind of engine: an institution through which many of Canadas notable architects, designers, and engineers came through on their paths to prominence, says Thorsteinson. In this respect, too, the office was pioneering, deliberately functioning as one of the first offices to bring women and individuals belonging to minority groups into architectural practice.
About Green Blankstein Russell and Associates: An Architectural Legacy
Winnipeg-based architecture firm Green Blankstein Russell and Associates (GBR) opened in the slow years of the Great Depression. Founding partners were Cecil Blankstein and Lawrence Green, joined soon after by Leslie Russell and Ralph Hamm. From this inauspicious starting point the firm would grow to become, by the 1950s and 60s, a major player on the Canadian architectural scene: the largest architectural office between Ontario and British Columbia, with seven offices in four provinces.
GBR was a hub for partnership and training, and was a pioneering force in its inclusion of women and members of Canadas diverse cultural communities within the field of design. Covering a wide range of individual buildings and practitioners, this book explores the significant mark GBR made on its hometown and across the country, as well as the firms role as a leader in the growth of Modernist architecture in Canada.
The new book (160 pages;300 illustrations) is available from Winnipeg Architecture Foundation at a cost of $35 plus shipping. http://www.winnipegarchitecture.ca/shop/merchandise/publications/green-blankstein-russell-an-architectural-legacy/
The next few weeks are critical ones for the heritage sector. In late November, the Environment Committee is expected to report back to Parliament on Bill C-323 – An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Rehabilitation of Historic Property) and also wrap up its recommendations on the milestone study, The Preservation and Protection of Historic Places.
This is a time for every heritage leader and organization to be engaged and informed. We strongly believe that our individual and collective responses must be loud, strategic and coordinated.
Please join our weekly calls to develop and share strategy for action, craft media messaging etc. We are counting on you to engage your own networks and members. We are looking for provincial/territorial or regional “captains” who will help rally the troops and share news and action plans. Feel free to forward this invitation to them. Thanks!
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Editor’s Note: The Environment Committee hearings were wide ranging covering topics from conserving indigenous heritage, lack of a binding heritage law for Canada, the need for financial incentives, issues with the National Register of Historic Properties, the role of Park's Canada and others. In much correspondence with proponents of Bill 323 the governing Liberals have expressed no support for the Bill, yet do make suggestions they recognize the need for support for the sector. The findings of this committee will be very important and will arrive at a rather difficult time of the year to respond, but respond we must. Keeping in touch with the National Trust for guidance and updates is important. Also contacting your MP to let them know we are hoping for great things from this review.