Educational Oversight


Date: 2013

Status: Lecture, Exhibition

Location: Calgary, Canada

Program: Office, Retail, Retrofit

Size: 260 000m2

Exhibition: Brutal Intentions - Building Curiosity

Lecture: Re: Education - Dtalks Iconomy Pecha Kucha Volume 3

Team: Jessie Andjelic, Philip Vandermey


Educational Oversight is one of three proposals that uses maximum development as a means of preservation. Educational Oversight coopts the typical model of Vancouverism (tower and plinth) and forces it high into the air to maintain a public museum to frame and celebrate the CBE. This former headquarters is re-imagined as a museum, providing Calgary with its first world-class contemporary arts facility.

The Calgary Board of Education building (CBE) is a 1967 concrete building of a type that typically (even if erroneously) falls into the category of ‘Brutalism’, a style that is popularly understood to have emerged from and is often associated with Le Corbusier’s béton brut. Similar buildings include Mosche Safdie’s Habitat as well as Arthur Erickson’s Museum of Anthropology and Simon Fraser University.

1967, also the year Montreal hosted Expo ’67 (and the site of Safdie’s Habitat), was Canada’s centenary. Due to this fortuitous timing, ‘Brutal’ buildings (the title Heroic has been suggested by a group of architects based in Boston, in order to redress errors in nomenclature) came to be associated with an identity that was somehow Canadian while also forming a connection to an international movement at a moment in history that the public sector was optimistically realizing works of visionary architecture.

The proposals developed by SPECTACLE recognize the vulnerability of these buildings - they fall into a ‘Black Spot’ in history since they are too new to be preserved, but too old to be popularly desirable for reuse - but also their value as representative architecture of an important moment in both national and international history.

the model

Educational Oversight hovers over the former Calgary Board of Education administration building, framing a new public plaza beneath a raised mixed-use plinth and tower arrangement.

towers in the air

Mies plus preservationism.

longitudinal section

Galleries for large format works are created by strategically removing walls and floors of the existing building.