The Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal is a research institution operating under the premise that architecture should be a concern for the public. The center offers many exhibitions and collections discussing how architecture shapes everyday life.


In 1989 the Canadian Center for Architecture opened to the public, and since that time has displayed over 175 exhibitions and produced almost 70 publications. Its first decade was celebrated with the En Chantier exhibition, marking the ongoing collection of three hundred and fifty photographs, drawings, manuscripts and toy models which covers over five centuries of history in architecture.

The Canadian Center for Architecture opened its Study Center in 1997, which supports research in architecture through several seminars and grants. It also provides access to the center’s library and its many collections. More than fifteen hundred scholars and researchers have visited the Canadian Center for Architecture’s Study Center.

From 1999 to 2001, Kurt W. Forster replaced founding director Phyllis Lambert, and just a few years later, Nicholas Olsberg succeeded Mr. Forster.

In 2005, the center appointed Mirko Zardini as its director, and since that time has expanded the focus of the Canadian Center for Architecture. Exhibitions and displays that once showed and discussed architecture now are for/about/on architecture and its impact on society. These address themes such as war, health, migration, and much more.

The center continues to expand and improve its collections with new acquisitions and donations. Both the Foreign Office Architects and the Archaeology of the Digital have contributed significantly to the Canadian Center for Architecture.

Displays and Collections

The Canadian Center for Architecture is a repository of inspiration and ideas. It offers the basis for research and activities and provides an essential source of reflection and scholarship on architecture and the role it plays in society.

Culture and Production- The Culture and Production collections provide documents that show architecture and its history from the time of the Renaissance to current day. It is comprised of many archives and displays which show architecture and its influence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Nearly two-hundred and fifty thousand publications are on display, including city guides, maps, trade catalogs and building documentation. Visitors can also view prints and drawings from the fifteenth century to current day, as well as over sixty-five thousand photographs that date back to the 1840s.

In addition to documents and drawings, guests will see souvenir buildings, building blocks, artifacts, and other printed materials.

Artifacts and Other Objects- This collection displays over thirty-five hundred pieces of printed architecture, ranging from admission tickets to engraved letterheads. Most of these objects are from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and primarily comes from Europe and North America. Some other items of note include hotel luggage labels, postage stamps, and other examples of domestic architecture.

Postcards make up a significant portion of the collection. Some of the more prominent pieces include the Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture, which includes twenty-five thousand cards, the Gilles Gagnon Postcard Collection, with eleven thousand cards, and a Montreal architecture postcard collection that consists of twelve hundred cards. These selections range from the early twentieth century to the early twenty-first century.

With well over 800 items to view, the architectural toy display covers two centuries of toys manufactured in Europe and the United States of America. These toys offer a variety of diversity, ranging from construction toys to sets of paper architecture. While they may appear to be just for play, these toys provide insight into architectural history, showing how quickly and thoroughly manufacturers are to follow the most recent stylistic and technologic trends.

Prints and Drawings- Ranging in from the fifteenth century to present-day, the Print and Drawings collection is a display of over one hundred thousand pieces of work. Work before the nineteenth century is uncommon. However, guests can view many of them, primarily from Italy, France, and Britain.

This collection originated with the Canadian Center for Architecture founder, Phyllis Lambert. A part of her personal collection, the prints and drawings numbered around four-thousand when the center was founded. Phyllis envisioned an exhibit that prominently displayed the development of architectural theory and practice.

Over the years, the collection grew as many prominent personalities contributed from their selections. The late 1980s saw donations from Mart Stam for the Hellerhof Housing Estate, JJP Oud, for the Monadnock Block and several drawings from the Peter Eisenman archive.

Overall the collection leans toward conceptual design development drawings, as opposed to finished drawings. The intention is to provide a look into the spontaneous thought process of the architectural design, as opposed to the final representation of the building.

1920, Rue Baile, Montreal, QC H3H 2S6