Q. Hi archiTEXT, welcome to the Gladstone. We are thrilled to have you here. For those who are new to archiTEXT, tell us a bit about what you do.
A. archiTEXT is an architectural think tank and design agency that uses creative projects to explore conversations that relate to, engage with, and are critical to better facilitating a conversation on the role of architecture, design, and creativity. Founded in 2006, archiTEXT has established itself as a hub between the worlds of architectural practice, academics, government, and the charitable sector. Through building projects, installation work, creative strategy, public policy, education, and public engagement projects, the company has engaged a broad public in issues critical to better understanding our built environment. Over the last five years, the company has been recognized as a key player in the conversations around design and innovation. Our area of expertise has been in designing innovative collaboration and partnership models to address complex issues. We almost always advance our projects in collaboration with the agencies and groups that are most relevant to the task as hand, and we variously involve them as funders, mentors, collaborators, in order to facilitate truly participatory practices.
Q. What will you be working on over the next two months while you are here?
A. We are thrilled to be moving some of our public projects – after many years of them being hosted at the Design Exchange (where we served as Innovator in Residence for two years) – to the Gladstone Hotel! Our projects in collaboration with the Gladstone will be our monthly documentary film night (kicking off in October’s with Eames: The Architect and the Painter, opening up our Grapes and Chips Fridays to the Gladstone community (and the general public!), hosting a series of panels where kids critically reflect on the urban design and architecture in Toronto, as well as launching a new collaborative project with you (Noa Bronstein) – The Odd Couple – which pairs people of all disciplines with designers to creatively explore a problem. (And of course, we’ll be working away at our studio projects under the Gladstone roof!)
Q. What is your favourite gallery in the neighbourhood?
A. We like MOCCA for their immersive and experiential exhibitions, Katherine Mulherin for her edgy and provocative shows, and Clint Roenisch for scale – BIG, large pieces that can be experienced from outside the gallery, inside the gallery at a distance, and a few inches away.
Q. I cannot help but ask, what are your thoughts about the new Frank Gehry towers?
A. Going to be brief here – because this is a complex question, but our thoughts are this: are the towers going to promote and enhance the walkability of a high-trafficked neighborhood AND it’s nice to see the city sparked up over an architectural conversation. To address the former – we’re hopeful (because Frank Gehry is Canadian, and there’s some pulse of patriotism that flows through us) that he’s addressing the use of this neighborhood by carefully considering what happens on the ground, and creating a dynamic and lively relationship between what happens up in the air and what happens at street level. On the other hand, the last time we got into this conversation in Toronto was around the architectural renaissance that left us with Gehry’s AGO, Liebskind’s ROM, KPMB’s Koerner Hall, etc. When the city gets fired up over these conversations, we learn a lot about what we value. We’ll leave it at that.
Q. We will be working on some projects together over the next few months, is there one you are particularly excited about?
A. We’re pretty excited about The Odd Couple project. At our core as an organization, we are interdisciplinary – always believing that some of the best design innovations come at the intersection of seemingly divergent practices. Bringing together (for example), a scientist and a designer, an economist and an illustrator, and the like – for us – is our idea of best practice. Curating diverse couplings really get us excited.
Stay tuned for more information about upcoming archiTEXT + Gladstone projects, including The Odd Couple Project.