Message from new Director Anne Bordeleau
January 5, 2023
Dear students, faculty, and staff,
As we launch into 2023, it is with much excitement that I take on the directorship of the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism (ASAU). The ASAU has always impressed me as a professor working in Canada. I am so pleased to be a part of this community and to join the remarkable initiatives underway by our students, faculty, alumni, and extended community. It is a privilege to be working with all of you.
I am as enthusiastic as ever about how design – specifically through the lenses of architecture, urbanism, and conservation – offers opportunities to learn from, relate to, and act within the world. However, I am also keenly aware of our profound responsibilities as architectural educators, historians, practitioners, and students, particularly in the face of ongoing environmental, social and political crises.
Acknowledging the interconnectedness of the global world, the fragility of our planet, and the resilience we can cultivate together, I am interested in how we can creatively and critically meet our responsibility for the world we have in common. When I think about architectural education, my hope is that students come with an aspiration to work for the greater good and that we can help them nurture this vital sense of a shared aim, an awareness of their obligation, and confidence in their ability.
The Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism offers undergraduate and graduate students a unique community where their sense of purpose and meaning can flourish. The school’s legacy in speculative thinking and its clear commitment to addressing critical societal issues through inclusive education and design point to an unparalleled and much-needed effort to open new perspectives in the discipline and profession. With an exceptional faculty, increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary research and collaboration, and plans for two new graduate degrees in adaptive architecture and urbanism, an exciting rethinking is underway of what the design disciplines have been and can become. This mission aligns with Carleton University’s vision to Share Knowledge, Shape the Future.
The research groups and initiatives at ASAU and the university more broadly (Kinàmàgawin report, EDI Action Plan, sustainability and accessibility plans, to name a few) also provide a stimulating framework to think about the urgent issues that we need to engage in as architects – from the right to housing, reconciliation, and social justice to conservation and adaptive reuse, and their relationship to sustainability.
The preparation for accreditation this year is an opportune time to come together to discuss our strengths, current trajectories, and ambitions. It is a meaningful occasion to reaffirm the school community’s collective vision. Continuing the work to address biases and barriers will strengthen this vision. Considering a re-framing of our human-centered perspective within a more-than-human world, addressing the climate crisis, ecological care, and our collective well-being more intentionally are also essential tasks. Such commitments are part and parcel of outstanding work already underway, connecting to the university’s goal to Strive for Wellness, Strive for Sustainability.
Being situated in Ottawa is a significant position from which to do more of the invisible and essential work that is always required through design advocacy, education, and policy. There are real opportunities to impact national architectural policies, re-examine our relationship to the land, and open new futures for architecture. Let’s cultivate our ability to thrive – as faculty, staff, students, and alumni – and leverage the fantastic grasp of the world that an education in architecture and urbanism offers across social, political, environmental, cultural, and technological realms.
These high aspirations are, in some ways, daunting but also extremely energizing. While they point to the crucial tasks ahead, they also remind us of our ability to purposefully question, take positions, and carefully amplify those stories that we want our worlds to be made from.
I conclude with a warm thank you to Professor Federica Goffi for her dedication and accomplishments as interim director. She skillfully and tirelessly worked to bring the school together during the challenges of the pandemic and has done incredible work to support faculty research, bring funding and partnership opportunities to the school, and uplift student initiatives and our many programs. In addition, with total commitment, she took on projects initiated by former directors, including those set in motion during the most recent six-year tenure of Professor Jill Stoner. I know the school community joins me in thanking Federica and Jill for their unwavering effort and dedication to the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism and for bringing the school to where it is today. I am indebted to their work as well as to that of the great family of contributors that have been connected to the school since its beginnings.
We have a wonderful collective of faculty, staff, students, and alumni at the ASAU, extraordinary work underway, and no shortages of new initiatives fostered with our broader communities locally, nationally, and globally. I look forward to working with all of you on these important projects. I am committed to listening, recognizing what is in place, and making room for others to find their agency. I am also dedicated to a workplace where there is mutual respect, a shared understanding of a common goal, and an appreciation of the multiple paths we each take toward it.
Wishing everyone a stimulating and gratifying 2023 filled with small and big projects and abundant creativity!
Anne Bordeleau, PhD, OAQ, MRAICProfessor and Director, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism