From east to west, Canada is a canvas for some truly spectacular architecture. This is not a statement we print lightly. We at Paste Travel have covered some of the most impressive structures on the planet. From China to Chicago and just about everywhere in between, we’ve featured staggering works we thought would wow even those who are unmoved by the things man can do with bricks and mortar. However, Canada’s contributions have been admittedly overlooked. This week’s Bucket List seeks to make amends with a tour of Canada by way of its best buildings from Manitoba to Montreal.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a stunning patchwork of architectural styles that span the museum's more than 100-year history. The Toronto-based art, culture and natural history museum was originally designed by architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson in Neo-Romanesque style. Most striking is the more recent addition of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal designed by Daniel Libeskind. According to the museum, the expansion is "Considered to be one of the most challenging construction projects in North America for its engineering complexity and innovative methods, the Lee-Chin Crystal is composed of five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that co-exist but are not attached to the original ROM building, except for the bridges that link them." The Crystal, which opened in 2007, features Deconstructivism-style with a facade of glass, aluminum and steel.
Photo by Bardia Photography, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Los Angeles-based Randall Stout Architects are the creative force behind the 2010 renovation of the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) in downtown Edmonton. After winning a design competition, Stout reimagined the existing Brutalist building as the modern new space we see today. The exterior features soft curves paired with sharp angles and a mix of materials. The 85,000-square-foot museum is home to a collection of 6,000 works and includes exhibition and gallery spaces, as well as a restaurant, shop and theater.
Photo by IQRemix, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Architect Moshe Safdie originally designed the iconic Habitat 67 for his master's of architecture thesis, but the housing complex was later built for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67) in Montreal. This landmark piece of architecture is located along the Saint Lawrence River on Marc-Drouin Quay. It features 354 concrete units that together form 146 apartments across 12 stories. Safdie's design aimed to bring attributes of suburban living to an urban multifamily complex, emphasizing privacy and access to green spaces.
Photo by AV Dezign, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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While the Surrey City Centre Public Library in British Columbia was designed by Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects, bringing the city's main library branch to fruition was a community effort. The architecture firm turned to social media for guidance. Participants submitted ideas and inspiration to be considered in the final design. The 78,000-square-foot, four-story library opened in 2011 and is visually defined by an abundance of soft curves and sharp angles, use of glass, as well as high ceilings and natural light.
Photo by qasic, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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By far the most unique structure in this gallery, the Montreal Biosphere is a geometric dome that serves as a museum. Located in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Saint Helen's Island, the structure was originally designed by architect Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67). Today it houses the Biosphere Environment Museum, which hosts exhibitions and activities relating to environmental issues and sustainability.
Photo by Daniel Mennerich, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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A design competition that yielded 100 submissions from more than 20 countries around the world resulted in a win for New Mexico-based architect Antoine Predock and the chance to design the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg. Completed in 2014, the museum is solely dedicated to human rights. Predock described his inspiration and concept behind the design on his website as, "Carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky on the Winnipeg horizon, the abstract ephemeral wings of a white dove embrace a mythic stone mountain of 450 million year old Tyndall limestone in the creation of a unifying and timeless landmark for all nations and cultures of the world."
Photo by Richard Ray, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is quite literally art itself. Canada-born starchitect Frank Gehry designed the Toronto museum's 2008 renovation. It is his first building in Canada. The museum is home to more than 80,000 works of art and, at 480,000 square feet, is also one of the biggest art museums in North America. Gehry's design includes the facade, galleries, entrance, gift shop, a sculptural staircases, cafe, lecture hall, fine-dining restaurant and more, all featuring extensive use of glass and wood.
Photo by Irina Callegher, CC BY-NC 2.0
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Dubbed the Marilyn Monroe Towers, these dual condominium buildings in Mississauga, a city in the greater Toronto area, stand 50 and 56 stories tall. They were designed by Beijing-based MAD Studio, along with Burka Architects and engineering firm Sigmund Soudak & Associates. MAD Studio won an international design competition put on by developer Fernbrook Homes and Cityzen in 2007. The Absolute Towers, as they're officially known, are part of a larger five-tower complex. The taller of the two Monroe Towers twists more than 200 degrees from its base, helping to have earned both buildings the title of best new skyscraper in 2012 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Photo by Jeff Hitchcock, CC BY 2.0