Peter Lanken, recently graduated, could not understand the Montreal of the early 1970s. Hundred-year-old buildings of high design and rare craftsmanship were being regularly destroyed, only to be replaced with parking lots. He stood in front of Windsor Station, then scheduled for demolition, and thought, “This is a great building. They were wrong when they taught me that great buildings exist only in London, or Paris, or Rome. There is important architecture in Quebec.”
This insight had lasting effects: Lanken quickly recognized the necessity of saving Montreal’s landmark buildings from destruction. Windsor Station, for sure, but also the Monument National, la Maison-mère des Soeurs Grises, and others, all threatened. Through his efforts in preservation, he came to understand that the works of a few Quebec architects, notably Ernest Cormier (1885-1980) and Victor Bourgeau (1809-1888), were worthy of much deeper study. Some thirty years ago he began to accurately measure and draw their buildings. Some of these drawings have been rendered in ink, to fully reveal their forms and features in light and shadow.
He has tried to incorporate lessons from local architecture into his own work in construction, while remembering the principles of the French and Italian masters. Such attempts were made at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Maison Alcan, the Saidye Bronfman Centre, the Cote St-Luc Public Library, and Price Waterhouse Montreal.More about Peter Lanken →