Name: Douglas Cardinal
Convocation date: October 27, 2012
Discipline / contribution: architecture
Citation / biographical information:
Douglas Cardinal is of the rare company of architects whose works are celebrated nationally and internationally and are destined to endure for generations. One can only touch on his achievement in the brief space available.Degree received: Doctor of Letters
One measure of that achievement is high public recognition: as Officer of the Order of Canada (1990) and Laureate of the Canada Council for the Arts (2004); as recipient of the profession’s highest honour, the Royal Architectural Gold Medal for Architectural Achievement (1999), of the International Academy of Architecture Grand Prix/Crystal Globe (2009), and of the Gold Medal of the Union of Architects of Russia (2010), plus fifteen honorary degrees.
Another measure is the catalogue of his projects, over 135 since the 1960s, among them iconic designs that include St. Mary’s Church, Red Deer, which became the flagship of his national career; the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which faces the Parliament Buildings from across the Ottawa River; the National Museum of the American Indian in the Mall in Washington, DC; and the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.
Dry lists tell little of the prime qualities of Mr. Cardinal’s architecture: the imprint of art-historical learning; the rooting of structures in their primeval landscape and in a profound spirituality; love of the curvilinear; technical genius, notable in his application of computers in building design -breakthrough for the architectural profession; exteriors that are not imposed arbitrarily but developed on the basis of the internal requirements of buildings, following intensive consultation of clients.
The work is the expression of the man, inclusive in his humanism, possessed of a spirit that has been indomitable in adversity from his earliest youth, proof against obstacles set in his path by racism, artistic bias, and bureaucratic and political contention. “Sacrifice everything but your truth.”
Degree presented by: President Ilene Busch-Vishniac
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