Lisa Rochon was the architecture critic for The Globe and Mail from 2000 - 2013. Her national column examined the way that architecture and urban design can invigorate or fail the city in Canada, the United States and places abroad; her writing regularly features profiles of leading architects and hard-hitting critiques of the country’s most significant architecture.

Lisa was nominated for the 2007 National Newspaper Award in the category of Arts and Entertainment writing in Canada. She won this same award in 2005 and 2006. Click on the Awards button for more information.

Most of Lisa's work for The Globe and Mail is available below. Many of the full articles include links to photos in the gallery.


CITYSPACE / Oscar Niemeyer, the legacy of the great Brazilian modernist who believed in the power of the curve

  • December 7, 2012: Oscar Niemeyer designed sensuality into everything that flowed through his studio, from the canted wooden walls in the United Nations General Assembly in New York to his sinuous private residence set down low like a snake in Rio’s rainforest. (more)

CITYSPACE / Mumbai, India: The harsh reality of housing the extremely rich and the extremely poor

  • November 23, 2012: Rich man, poor man: What constitutes a home in Mumbai for each is starkly, shockingly different. (more)

CITYSPACE / Frank Gehry and the critical need to allow architectural poetry that contributes 24/7 to live/work/shopping

  • October 5, 2012: he media scrum is over, and Frank Gehry and his team have quit the adoring limelight in Toronto for their big factory-house in a suburb of Los Angeles. Their mission? Making good on their promise to design David Mirvish’s daring mega-project for Toronto’s entertainment district. (more)

CITYSPACE / Temporary, invigorating, fresh:  The Power of Pop-Up Architecture across Canada

  • June 15, 2012: Pop-up architecture is the entertainment of today and the urban destination of tomorrow. It's light, lyrical and cheap to construct. Permanent, masonry-heavy architecture will continue to drill down into the ground, but architecture as light as Twitter can risk more. (more)

CITYSPACE / Architecture offers new prescriptions for building health

  • November 11, 2011: This is what I see when I gaze into my crystal ball at the future of health-care design: a free-flowing Canadian hospital tuned into the needs of women, with a luminous pavilion marking its front entrance. In fact, I'm not dreaming. (more)

CITYSPACE / Jeanne Gang, ‘genius’ architect

  • October 28, 2011: A conversation with Jeanne Gang, the outstanding Chicago architect being feted round the world, wanders far and wide, from the American foreclosure crisis and the “pathetic” state of toxic rivers to how to transform marble into a lightweight, luminous waterfall. (more)

Glacier Discovery Walk: A heroic design link to nature

  • October 14, 2011: At last, the Canadian West is building a contemporary design that’s heroic and heart-stopping. The Glacier Discovery Walk is an audacious promenade that matches, rather than shrinks from, an epic landscape. (more)

CITYSPACE / Dear Diary: This is how a city like Toronto is built

  • September 30, 2011: A day composed of a series of artful and crucial examples of what it takes to build a city like this one.(more)

CITYSPACE / Stuck at the corner of Blah and Graceless in Toronto

  • April 29, 2011: The reality is that most practising architects are men and almost every one of them relies on a male contractor. And yet... Omar Gandhi is a 31-year old designer who wants his architecture to move you like soul music. His contractor is not a man but a woman.(more)

CITYSPACE / Ottawa’s new Convention Centre: A glass spaceship on the Rideau Canal

  • March 11, 2011: A glass spaceship on the Rideau Canal - the moody, curved archi-body that now graces the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa - has me standing at attention. For the first time, a compelling architectural gesture has danced into the city. (more)

CITYSPACE / Across the great divide

  • January 28, 2011: The challenge of keeping wildlife away from deadly collisions with cars inspired the ARC (for Animal Road Crossing) international design competition, which last year invited dozens of landscape architects from around the world to imagine animal-friendly, and eye-catching, bridges to cross over busy highways

The winning design, from HNTB + MVVA of New York, reads more like natural feature than man-made bridge..(more)

CITYSPACE / In Nova Scotia, a man and a woman walk into a house...

  • January 14, 2011: The reality is that most practising architects are men and almost every one of them relies on a male contractor. And yet... Omar Gandhi is a 31-year old designer who wants his architecture to move you like soul music. His contractor is not a man but a woman.(more)

CITYSPACE / Year in Review: Architecture - Four women, four major projects.

  • December 29, 2010: Women deliver inspiring acts of irreverence. Women in architecture, in design, in planning delivered stellar knockout moves around the world: The year 2010 belongs to them. (more)

CITYSPACE / Architects: They can’t stop bullets, but they can create hope

  • December 13, 2010: Architects are not crime-stoppers. That said, they do play a crucial role in shaping our cities, and not just in the physical sense: they can work magic with space, designing grace and humanity into buildings.(more)

CITYSPACE / Like Marilyn herself, the Absolute Tower is smart, sexy, built to impress

  • November 26, 2010: Architecture lives in Mississauga. At long last. If Issey Miyake were an architect instead of a fashion designer, he might have imagined the Absolute Tower just this way: an intelligent, shifting sheath that sashays around the body. (more)

CITYSPACE / Pull over! I see hope on the road ahead

  • November 22, 2010: There’s something that looks like architectural hope emerging on Ontario’s superhighways. ONroute service centres, designed by Quadrangle Architects Limited of Toronto and currently being rolled out on highways 401 and 400, are transforming the generic, forgettable designs of yesteryear with new, architecturally elevated interpretations of Muskoka lodges. (more)

CITYSPACE / The Arena Stage: A home for high drama in a once-troubled ’hood

  • October 29, 2010: Architectural time travel always exhilarates me. One minute, I’m walking along Washington’s National Mall, where ancient Rome and masses of marble were mined to ennoble America’s capital. Ten minutes later, I pull up to an exuberant, life-giving piece of West Coast architecture that poses monumental columns of Douglas fir behind a dramatic curved wall of glass. (more)

CITYSPACE / A concrete retort to the glass-and-steel cliché

  • October 15, 2010: Imagine a construction material that’s strong enough to carry cars, but as thin as your baby finger. It’s time to dream again in concrete. (more)

CITYSPACE / Toronto City Hall: How Finnish architecture rebranded a city

  • October 13, 2010: Made modern: That was what happened to Toronto when it launched a 1958 international design competition and landed an emerging star of Finnish modernism, Viljo Revell, to design its futuristic City Hall. (more)

CITYSPACE / Architecture’s new rock star: Newfoundland’s (and Norway’s) Todd Saunders

  • October 1, 2010: A series of pavilions cut like shards of volcanic stone are being constructed off the coast of Newfoundland at the edge of the raging Atlantic. (more)

CITYSPACE / King Kong comes to King and John

  • September 7, 2010: An architectural snore. That’s the tragic upshot of the highly anticipated TIFF Bell Lightbox. What could have been released as a summer blockbuster of epic, original architecture turns out to be barely alive (more)

CITYSPACE / Sugar Beach

  • August 20, 2010: Pink umbrellas, green cubes, lingering questions: Toronto’s Sugar Beach yields an impressionistic landscape rarely attempted in the hard-edged cities of North America. (more)

CITYSPACE / Building soul into social housing

  • April 30, 2010: At 60 Richmond East, communal courtyard gardens will supply a tenant-owned restaurant, windows open wide, and the bike racks go on forever (more)

CITYSPACE / Medals honour exquisitely crafted projects

  • April 29, 2010: 2010 Governor-General's Medals go to projects in Ontario, Quebec (more)

Honouring a revered Canadian architect

  • April 21, 2010: Presented with the Sakura Award, Raymond Moriyama tells an epic tale of a life devoted to driving ‘a nail of gold’ (more)

CITYSPACE / Beauty in the Beaches? Not always

  • March 26, 2010: There’s downtown architectural pizzazz in Toronto, thanks to star architects, but there’s a glut of design disasters happening in our neighbourhood (more)

CITYSPACE / Toxic soil, tall hurdles, troubling questions

  • March 12, 2010: A vision of Underpass Park showing a rendering of the center block in the evening. Toronto’s West Don Lands will be home to the 2015 Pan Am Games. So where’s a real plan to clean them up and make them shine? (more)
  • See also How to get the Pan Am Athlete’s Village Done, on time, on budget – with gutsy vision. (more)

CITYSPACE / O Canada, it's not supposed to be a circus act

  • January 16, 2010: It was shabby of Harper's government to choose Cirque's one-stop showmanship over a landmark Canadian architectural moment (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE / YEAR IN REVIEW

  • December 26, 2009: To soar, yes - but also to get burned: The boom has slowed, but the pause is making room for some serious assessments of what it means to build with care (more)

CITYSPACE / Urban walkway: Everyone but the cabbies loves this.

  • December 11, 2009: In a grand New York experiment, great swathes of Broadway have been closed to cars since May. Toronto, are you watching? (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: TERMINAL FRUSTRATION

  • November 28, 2009: How did we land here? Airports were once conceived as beacons of the future. Now, they seem designed to impede the traveller and offend the eye (more)

CITYSPACE: WANT ECO-FRIENDLY TOWERS? START BY DIGGING DEEP

  • November 7, 2009: Besides offering plush layers of luxury, Toronto's newest hotels have something else in common: They'll all be energy hogs. (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: TORONTO STREET FURNITURE

  • October 9, 2009: Toronto street furniture: garbage in, garbage out: wy don't we invest in making our sidewalks look great? (more)

CITYSPACE: KOERNER HALL

  • September 26, 2009: Gutsy vision, great vibrations (more)

REVIEW: BAY ADELAIDE CENTRE

  • September 19, 2009: Sophisticated. Civic-minded. Clean. A new standard has been set for building tall in Toronto. (more)

CITYSPACE: BUILDINGS THAT SEND A SHIVER OF ECSTASY

  • September 12, 2009: It took a trip to Rome to remind me that an intense immersion in art and architecture can provoke a rush of warm feelings: a sense of being overwhelmed and amazed, a state that can release angst, bring on happiness, even heart palpitations. (more)

CITYSPACE: IS CALATRAVA THE FUTURE OF CALGARY? LET'S HOPE SO

  • August 1, 2009: A breathtaking bridge by the Spaniard is causing controversy, but designs for a music centre prove the city is ready to take risksA city made for cyclists (Hint: it's not Toronto) (more)

CITYSPACE: COPENHAGEN

  • June 26, 2009: A city made for cyclists (Hint: it's not Toronto) (more) (photo)

FINLAND'S SIMPLE, SPARE AND CLASSIC DESIGN

  • June 20, 2009: The Globe's architecture critic makes a pilgrimage to the land of Alvar Aalto, one of Frank Gehry's mentors (more)

AN APPRECIATION / ARTHUR ERICKSON

  • May 23, 2009: With concrete and honesty, he honoured us all (more)

SLOWHOME.COM: RETHINKING WHERE WE LIVE

  • April 18, 2009: Taking it one room at a time: with his smart new website, a Calgary architect hopes to educate the public in all that's wrong with cookie-cutter, supersized homes (more)

A SENSE OF PLACE: DOUGLAS COUPLAND TAKES TORONTO

  • April 18, 2009: The Vancouverite who coined Generation X is shaping our city with three public-art projects, writes Lisa Rochon. Big, playful and intelligent, they are awash in his lopsided sense of irony (more)

CITYSPACE: REVIEW

  • April 18, 2009: The rise and shine of new Shops at Don Mills (more)

EGOYAN GIVES TORONTO THE CLOSE-UP IT DESERVES

  • April 3, 2009: For years, the city has been the stand-in for the likes of New York and Chicago. Now, with arresting new cultural builds in place, the director felt the time was right for the city to take a starring role. (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: SCALED-DOWN POETRY FOR THE CITY'S TROUBLED EDGES: High time for a monumental rethink

  • March 21, 2009: Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano are architects, geniuses, stars - and old. They're children of the Depression, the last one and the current one, and are all well past 70, with Gehry having just turned 80. Happy Birthday, Frank! And welcome to the harsh new reality of the minimalist economy... (more)

CITYSPACE: LES BAINS VIEUX-MONTRÉAL: A 19TH-CENTURY WAREHOUSE BECOMES A PLACE OF CONTEMPLATION

  • March 7, 2009: The desire to clean and heal the body with water inspired the art of the spa. Throughout the ages, temples have been built with grandeur and solemnity to celebrate what is an ancient ritual. Les Bains Vieux-Montréal by Saucier + Perrotte architectes drowns conventional spa design, leading us instead into an interior that pushes us back into our minds... (more)

THE TORONTO ISSUE: LISA ROCHON'S TOP 5 ARCHITECTURAL SIGHTS

  • February 28, 2009: Not long ago, Toronto was seen as squeaky clean and deadly dull. Today, it mixes grit with urban enchantments: soaring contemporary architecture and poetic transformations of history... (more)

CITYSPACE: ARCHITECTURE: A WEEK IN THE LIFE... banish thoughts of gloom: The future is now

  • February 21, 2009: The world has become a tangle of dread - at least, that's what we're meant to think. Is it wrong to feel elation, then, at the current state of architecture? I refuse to think so. Let me describe some of what I experienced last week... (more)

CITYSPACE: MEDELLIN'S REPUTATION GOES UP, UP, UP: CARACAS'S SPIRALS EVER DOWNWARD... from slumdog barrio to beacon on the hill

  • February 7, 2009: Catalytic architecture, visionary social spending and simple local pride are remaking one of Colombia's poorest neighbourhoods... (more)

AND WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT, MR. MILLER: TORONTO NEEDS A GREAT AQUATIC CENTRE... or pool your stimulus cash here

  • January 17, 2009: The Hearn Generating Station is a civic legend waiting to be unleashed. It could be the next Tate Modern, but it could be much more: a place where you could swim and float your mind... (more)

CITYSPACE: TALL BUILDINGS: THE TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER

So boring we don't even get Trumped? Donald, where's the garish? Where's the glitz? Oh please, not more green glass...

  • January 10, 2009: So boring we don't even get Trumped? Donald, where's the garish? Where's the glitz? Oh please, not more green glass... (more)

STRAIGHT FROM B.C., IDEAS AS BIG AS ALL TEXAS

  • November 28, 2008: A spirit of optimism runs through Fort Worth, Texas, where one of North America's largest infrastructure projects is being built according by Vancouver architect Bing Thom. (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: TRANSFORMATION AGO: A PUBLIC GALLERY, A NATIONAL TREASURE

  • November 8, 2008: Utterly transforming the Art Gallery of Ontario, Frank Gehry has created an exhilarating work of architecture that honours the art it houses, gives new life to Toronto's downtown, and confirms Gehry's stature as one of the world's great creative geniuses. (more)

CITYSPACE: RIDEAU HALL: OUR LAST GREAT CIVIC STATION

A right royal home for Canada's head of state

  • November 1, 2008: If you are lucky enough to have an invitation to enter, go immediately to the stunning ballroom of 1873, with its robin's egg walls and golden plasterwork. (more) (photos)

CUTS IN ICONIC BENCHES MESS WITH MIESIAN AESTHETIC

  • November 1, 2008: The granite benches at the Toronto-Dominion Centre have been trashed. Not by roaming bands of graffiti artists or ripper skateboarders, but as part of a larger “courtyard improvement project” undertaken by the suits at Cadillac Fairview, the owners of the TD Centre. (more)

CITYSPACE: ARCHITECTURE: GOODBYE, STARCHITECTS. HELLO, CLIMATE ENGINEERS

Market panic? Bring it on!

  • October 18, 2008: If there is a new imperative in this desperate economy, it is surely to build more intelligent architecture. Cancel the mediocre, the cheaply built, the towers and housing developments that ignore sustainability. To build is a vote for human productivity. To build well confirms a sophisticated, thinking society. (more)

A HORSE SHED BECOMES A HOUSE: ABSORBING HISTORY WITHOUT GENUFLECTING TO IT

Far from elite street, a back lane gets gussied up

  • October 4, 2008: the zeitgeist of any robust, multidimensional city cannot be measured strictly by what's being built and flaunted on elite street. For another take on a city's temperature, go to the places in between, including the hidden back lane, where architecture ventures into the wild. (more)

DEFENDING DESIGN: the Ground Zero Memorial

  • September 19, 2008: Out of the darkest moments come painful shards of clarity. For Michael Arad, the first one came on Sept. 11, 2001, after seeing the north tower of the World Trade Center billowing with smoke and then, from his apartment rooftop in East Village, watching the south tower being slammed by a plane and realizing then that this was no freak accident but an act of terrorism. (more)

CITYSPACE: AVANT-GARDE GARDEN FESTIVALS: LES JARDINS DE MÉTIS, LES JARDINS ÉPHÉMÈRES

  • July 12, 2008: At the stunning Jardins de Métis in the Gaspésie and in the heart of Quebec City, the garden designs being presented this summer are defined by their playful irreverence and dark irony. So much for the peony. (more)

CITYSPACE: PUG AWARDS: THE CITY SPEAKS

  • May 31, 2008: Putting buildings in the paws of the people: to name a developer responsible for the most despised structure is part of the fun (more)

CITYSPACE: ARCHITECTURE: NICKEL CITY

  • May 24, 2008: Engaging the true north, charred and pitted: Plans for an architecture school, a sports complex and an arts centre could transform life in the mining town (more)

TOURISM: ICONIC POSSIBILITIES

  • April 26 2008. Our city needs a booster shot of imagination: three masterworks of architecture - Old City Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens and Ontario Place - have been set adrift in the city's downtown. Lisa Rochon considers the options (more)

CITYSPACE: IN CHICAGO, GENIUS WITH A TWIST

  • April 19 2008. The proposed 150-storey Chicago Spire promises to throw an architectural curve into a city that has always paid strict homage to the straight line. (more)

CITYSPACE: ARTISTIC COLLABORATIONS

  • March 29 2008. An artist's touch: design inspiration (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: TINTING THE SKY TO DEATH ONE TOWER AT A TIME

  • March 15 2008. Ubiquitous green glass has doomed our city buildings to darkness (more)

CITYSPACE: ASYMPOTE: CONSTRUCTING THE IMPOSSIBLE

  • February 16 2008. From Manhattan to the Middle East, visionary developers are lining up to get a piece of Canadian architects Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid (more) (photo)

SAVING THE WORLD, ONE BUILDING AT A TIME

  • January 13, 2008. Most of the world's architects are trained in the Western world, but most of the work that needs urgent doing is located in the developing world, especially areas ravaged by wars and natural disasters. Within these wastelands, there's a role for architects, though few dare to go there (more) (photo)

CITYSPACE: LANDMARKS, PINNACLES, PASSAGES

  • December 29 2007. The CN Tower got leap-frogged, the Royal Ontario Museum got crystallized, Vancouver got a little more playful, and some architectural masters were lost forever (more)

WHY IS HOSPITAL DESIGN SO UNHEALTHY?

  • December 15 2007. Architects are being asked to work as foot soldiers to major developer consortiums whose interest is turning an offshore profit, not inspiring human-based design (more) (photo)

A YEAR BEFORE LIFTOFF, GEHRY'S AGO ALREADY SOARS

  • December 1 2007. The truth about the redesign of Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario is already plain to see: one year away from being completed, the Frank Gehry redesign is a staggering success (more)

IT TRIES, BUT DETROIT SEEMS DOOMED TO FAIL

  • November 3 2007. Despite some determined signs of hope, the city remains in free fall 40 years after the riots that tore it asunder (more)

THE NEXT VERY, VERY BIG THINGS

  • October 13 2007. Big is the new kind of architecture, designed to please a new class of billionaire titans. Extreme architecture appeals to the Versailles in every wannabe king: A penthouse on the 100th floor, where Marie Antoinette deserved to live. Up high, next to heaven (more)

MY PILGRIMAGE TO A MODERN MASTERPIECE

  • Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 6, 2007. In a country ground down by poverty, newly ravaged by floods, and living under military rule, Louis Kahn's masterwork, the National Assembly of Bangladesh, remains a monumental meditation on humanity, with the power to move both body and mind (more)

CITYSPACE: THE AGA KHAN AWARD

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, September 15, 2007. Celebrating great design across the Muslim world: winners range from a Singapore residential tower that keeps out monsoon rains to a hand-built rural Bangladesh school (more)

Crystal scatters no light

  • June 2, 2007. It's hard, aggressive and in your face. It cantilevers dangerously over the street, shifting the ground from under our feet. Do not expect shelter from the $135-million Michael Lee-Chin crystalline addition to Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum by Daniel Libeskind. Expect the exaltation of one architect, one man, one individual. Expect the stuff of Libeskind: an exile, a brilliant thinker, a marketer with a silver tongue (more)

CITYSPACE: SAVING MURAD KHANE

  • May 26, 2007. Afghanistan's other casualties: an unusual young Scot is involved in a heroic effort to preserve the heritage of battered historic Kabul (more)

CITYSPACE: Sustainable Development in New Orleans

  • May 11, 2007. Greenola could become a template for sustainable communities along the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast (more)

CITYSPACE: A Vision for Toronto's Western border

  • April 21, 2007. Imagination still has a fighting chance in the City of Toronto. Ideas are being floated around for the creation of gateways to the city, and the initial design for a flotilla of 24 stainless-steel masts by Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Architects deserves our attention (more)

Room for all faiths

  • March 17, 2007. An ethereal new space at the University of Toronto invites people of all beliefs to worship under the same onyx sky (more)

Nathan Phillips Square

  • March 3, 2007. Square needs design edit. While most of the finalists pay tribute to the follies of the past, a New York plan bravely moves forward (more)

Time to build outside the box

  • January 11 2007. With a new planner at the helm, Vancouver has a chance to shake up the way it builds. And as the 2010 Olympics loom, there's a new sense of urgency (note this is an updated version of the original that appeared in print) (more)

A sense of place emerges

  • December 28 2006. There were iconic buildings and tall towers aplenty, but the year belonged to small statements attempting to stem the tide of sameness (more)

Top 10 of 2006: KPMB

  • December 19 2006. The work of this firm triggers new optimism in an architecturally ordinary city like Toronto. (more)

CITYSPACE: 48 Abell

  • 26 November 2006. Toronto is growing up urbsurd. This city likes to boast about its West Queen West arts district. Too bad it is unwilling to protect it. (more)

The Stones Of Banff

  • 7 September 2006. I never wanted to be a mountain climber. Never wanted to walk a narrow ledge with nothing to cling to but a crumbling rock wall and thin air. Stupid, I know. (more)

CITYSPACE: Toronto's Waterfront

  • June 8 2006. A Dutch treat at water's edge. West 8's winning design is a marvel of clarity and credibility. But is the city prepared to pay for it? (more)

Building the future of design

  • March 20 2006. Today's young architects are gutsy and inventive -- generating new ways of building with daring shapes and fresh approaches to traditional materials. So why is it, LISA ROCHON asks, that their best ideas so rarely make the leap from blueprints to bricks and mortar? (more)

There's no there there

  • May 22 2003 In the final part of a series on place and placelessness, LISA ROCHON laments that Toronto's new Dundas Square fails on many levels as a public space. (more)