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Contemporary Maritime architecture the subject of upcoming Beaverbrook event

A quick Google Images search of “New Brunswick Architecture” explains a lot about our province. Most of the photos feature old brick buildings that are beautiful but represent the past and old ways of the area. Scattered among them are a few more modern designs — oh wait, those are from New Brunswick, New Jersey. That’s a different problem.

An upcoming talk at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is aiming to change some of the architectural stereotypes of New Brunswick.

“For the longest time it seemed like courageous and thoughtful Canadian architecture was always in someone else’s region (usually in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver), but we’re getting some real gorgeous gems these days from the three firms we’re presenting, as well as some of their colleagues,” said John Leroux, who will be hosting the event.

On Thursday, March 19, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will be featuring three architecture and design firms from the East Coast: Acre Graphics from Saint John, Design Plus Architecture & Interior Design from Moncton and Omar Ghandi Architect Inc. from Halifax.

“Each architect will be given 15 minutes and 15 slides to talk about their work, what matters to them, and how they hope to improve their environment. We’ll then have them answer a few prepared design and public advocacy questions and then we’ll open it up to the floor for audience questions,” said Leroux.

The three design firms are some of the most promising from a new generation, Leroux said. The Globe and Mail, for example, declared Acre Architects “one of the hippest firms on the East Coast” while Design Plus and Omar Ghandi have won regional and national awards respectively.

Though all three firms have different areas of expertise, Leroux feels that there is a common bond that unites them.

“In the East Coast, we all deal with very tight budgets, so all firms do a lot for a little. On a larger scale, they all care deeply about working in tandem with the owners/clients and making the designs clean. [Designs are] somewhat minimal but still playful and rich in texture and composition while embracing their site and the climate/topography.”

For Leroux, the talk is especially interesting to him as an architect in Fredericton as well as a current PhD candidate at UNB. For his dissertation, Leroux is looking at modernism in New Brunswick between the years of 1930 and 1975.

“We’re wanting to engage young people and students about the potential value and possibilities in design and architecture … We want to encourage students to consider architecture as a rewarding and fascinating career that enables you to make a real positive, concrete change in our world — and get paid for it,” he said.

“It should be one of the most engaging and inspirational free talks you’ll see in Fredericton this year. Plus, it will make you feel very optimistic about the future, and those leading the way.”

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