Newsletter Subscription
Print Subscription
Change Address
News
03.30.2012
Emerging Voices> Atelier TAG
Canadian firm weds the modernist tradition of building craft with regional materials.
The courtyard of the Raymond-LLvesque Public Library.
Marc Cramer

The Architectural League’s 30th annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture at the Cooper Union's Rose Auditorium at 41 Cooper Square in Manhattan. The next lecture takes place on Friday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. when Arquitectura 911 and Atelier TAG will present their work.

Atelier TAG
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal-based Atelier TAG owes its existence to Canada’s commitment to open competitions. As in Europe, the government often selects design teams for civic buildings by anonymous open competition. And while such open competitions are not as frequent as they once were, having been replaced by a two-step process starting with a Request for Qualifications, Atelier TAG’s principals, Manon Asselin and Katsuhiro Yamazaki, luckily now have a track record. Since 2004, they have completed three high-profile competition projects in Quebec: the Raymond-Lévesque Public Library; the municipal library of Châteauguay; and the Vieux-Terrebonne Theatre.

Atelier TAG has dedicated itself to upholding a slice of modernist tradition—the craft of building. It’s a focus the husband-and-wife team arrived at through extensive research and travel, thanks to a $50,000 professional Prix de Rome awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts in 2007. “We take a materials approach to architecture in terms of how it informs spatial qualities,” said Asselin. “We are not so interested in the kind of data research we saw happening at firms in New York.”

   
The Raymond-Lévesque Public Library, designed in consortium with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte, in St-Hubert, Quebec, combined modernist massing with regional materials.
 

Buildings that resonate with their own sense of structure, in the vein of Mies van der Rohe enriched with tactile poetics à la Zumthor or Herzog & de Meuron, is the goal. And it is achieved at the Raymond-Lévesque library, with its dynamic array of overlapping geometries clad in carbonized poplar planks that work visually as a dynamic screen positioned to take maximum advantage of the sun’s position throughout the day.

In an arrangement that is rare in the United States, Atelier TAG waxes and wanes according to the needs of ambitious projects. As competitions get underway, the firm, usually 2- to 10-people strong, can grow instantly to 100 through an on-going alliance with the large and established Montreal firm, Jodoin Lamarre Pratte et Associés Architectes. “We control the working drawings and the entire design phase,” said Asselin, whose team moves into the larger office when projects get going. “Collaborating with an older firm that can handle the routine project management issues but also understands our approach to detailing makes it all possible.”

Julie V. Iovine

 

   
BIBLIOTHÈQUE MUNICIPALE DE CHÂTEAUGUAY, 2003 (LEFT) WITH HEWN STONE FACADE AND THÉÂTRE DU VIEUX TERREBONNE, 2004 (FAR RIGHT), A MONUMENTAL CUBE ECONOMICALLY TEXTURED TO ALLOW FOR VIEWING PLATFORMS (CENTER) AND A DYNAMIC INTERIOR.