Prof. Roger Connah retires from the Azrieli School
July 2, 2021
Roger Connah, associate professor, writer, scholar, film-maker, and critic, has retired from Carleton University after 11 years of teaching at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism.
Connah was a dynamic instructor who, in his Introduction to Architecture course, inspired first-year students to broaden the conventional definitions of architecture, design, and urbanism. He was at Carleton from 2009-2020. From 2010 to 2013, he served as Associate Graduate Director.
In his many years as coordinator of the Master of Architecture program, he motivated students to inhabit the fourth floor of the Azrieli Pavilion in what came to be known as “Middle Earth.” Bespoke furnishings, produced in a design-build effort, supported conversation and display and presentation areas. Students could approach Connah with any topic, and he would list a thorough reading list, titles, and authors from memory. He also gathered many diverse used books from local bookshops and made them available to all graduate students.
Connah has taught for over three decades in Finland, India, Pakistan, Sweden, Canada, China, and the United States. His career has included graphic consultancy, exhibition design management, and scriptwriting. He has published several books and produced many pamphlets, monographs, and theoretical essays that explore architecture’s deeper cultural significance. A specialist in the history of Finnish architecture, he is recognized as an international authority on the architecture of architect Reima Pietilä.
He led many students in thoughtful research, meeting with people who might use the buildings, making drawings that map ideas and spatial opportunities, and investigating possibilities that could lead to fresh approaches instead of already known typologies. An example is the year-long studio project, Ottawa: You’re So Vanier, that won a 2016 Studio Prize from Architect Magazine and resulted in a book, exhibition, and public consultation.
Federico Lacasia, a 2021 Bachelor of Architectural Studies graduate, recalls his first Introduction to Architecture class with Connah.
“I was expecting to learn about drafting or line weights, or structures, and then Roger played “We didn’t start the fire” and told us to write down every name we recognized. I was confused, surprised, excited.”
After that, Lacasia looked forward to Connah’s classes as a highlight of the week.
“He always took time to get to know his students and made learning enjoyable,” he says. “He helped me look past what was in front of me. He helped me challenge my perceptions and helped me become the designer I am now.”
As Connah moves on to new teaching and writing opportunities, we wish him all the best.