A pair of patrons browse various pictures of Jeremy Sturgess' work. A pair of patrons browse various pictures of Jeremy Sturgess' work.

The Faculty of Architecture is a little outside most students' daily campus route, but this month, their exhibit “Themes and Variations,” featuring work by Alberta architect Jeremy Sturgess, just might attract the curious and architecturally-inclined to the building's Eric Arthur Gallery.

Sturgess, a Calgary-based architect and graduate of U of T's Architecture program, has won numerous awards - including the Governor-General's award - for his innovative and sustainable designs since the beginning of his career in the '70s. Over the years, he has garnered recognition as one of the country’s best talents in the field - working on everything, from theatres and houses to parks and subway stations.

Architect Kevin Harrison, assisted by student David Tyl, (both of whom work in Sturgess’s office), assisted curator Geoffrey Simmins in the compilation of the exhibit.

“Jeremy Sturgess designs buildings known for their striking forms and their dramatic use of colour,” says Simmins, who is currently working on a book about Sturgess’s designs entitled Full Spectrum. “Although [Sturgess is] known especially for houses, he has also designed many other different types of buildings, something that this exhibition intends to convey.”

The exhibit is composed mainly of large photos “intended to evoke the whole buildings by means of evocative fragments, in striking photographs by Robert Lemermeyer,” says Simmins. The first collection of photographs are of the Theatre Junction at the Grand in Calgary, Alberta. The Theatre's design focuses on paradoxes between shadow and light, old and new.

One room's old paint-flaked ceiling is juxtaposed with a wall of modern mirror design. Another room marries decaying brick walls with structured metal beams. “The lobby was left fragmentary and incomplete deliberately, to show the ways that the building had been treated in the nearly one hundred years since it was built.”

The exhibit displays an array of designs including The Water Center, an LRT Station, and a house on Bowen Island. Sturgess’s most characteristic architectural elements are large windows and sturdy elaborate metal beams. His designs are futuristic and grand, and his love of colour is expressed through the fuschias and bright greens of the exhibit's walls.

Themes and Variations' success comes from its multimedia element. As well as photographs and models, a video projector and a television playing interviews and plans of some of the designs, “displays the whole dynamic process of architecture.” In creating the exhibit, Simmins says, “We were thinking of the viewer. We wanted to get people excited about architecture.”

Jeremy Sturgess: Themes and Variations runs through December 12 at The Eric Arthur Gallery (230 College St.). Free admission.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Three decades of Jeremy Sturgess designs at the Eric Arthur Gallery
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