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sketch of Barry Padolsky

FAUM Alumni Spotlight | Barry Padolsky

March 28, 2022 — 

NAME: Barry Padolsky
GRADUATION YEAR(S) AND DEGREE PROGRAM(S):   1961;  Bachelor of Architecture
JOB TITLE: Architect, Urban Designer, Heritage Consultant ,
ORGANIZATION: Barry Padolsky Associates Inc
HOMETOWN: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Barry Padolsky, B. Arch., M. Sc. (Urban Design), OAA, FRAIC, RCA, CAHP is an Ottawa-based architect, urban designer, and heritage consultant. Barry founded his consulting firm Barry Padolsky Associates Inc., Architects in 1969. He led his firm in the realization of over 200 projects in Ottawa including the restoration, rehabilitation or adaptive re-use of over 60 heritage buildings. His heritage projects include the Victoria Memorial Museum Restoration, the Rideau Canal Museum, the Byward Market Building, the Fleet Street Pumping Station, and the Bank Street, Cumming’s, and Pooley’s Bridge Rehabilitation projects. Barry has been recognized with 43 national and civic architectural and urban design awards including 29 for heritage conservation.

Recently, Barry Padolsky shared his new manuscript called “A Winnipeg Boy’s Imaginings”.  The manuscript contains a selection of hand drawn ink sketches, posters and graphics, theatre set designs, poems, essays, polemics, and other creative imaginings. Barry was gracious enough to reflect on his time at UM and answered a few questions.  Please enjoy.

Victoria Memorial Museum Rehabilitation: Joint Venture by Barry Padolsky Associates Inc., Architects Kuwubara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, Gagnon Letellier Cyr Architects

What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

I suppose I would have to include the Canadian Museum of Nature rehabilitation project in Ottawa. This architectural project was undertaken by the Government of Canada to transform and modernize Canada’s historic Victoria Memorial Museum. Originally  constructed in 1910, this “Classified” national heritage landmark was restored and  renovated between 2002 and 2010. I was lucky to be one of the architectural partners leading a massive team of specialists that successfully completed this daunting and daring transformation. As a young north end Winnipegger who was educated to adore the British monarchy, it was a thrill to be present as Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated the Museum’s “Queens’ Lantern” on June 30, 2010.

How did your time at the UM influence your current path (professional or personal)?

As a child I dreamed of becoming an architect, even though I did not know what it meant.

The UM program in architecture was both inspiring and demanding. I learned that  that my dreams could be realized if I combined my natural creativity with t pure hard work. In my subsequent professional life I concluded that the accepted  doctrine of “all nighters” was counterproductive.

What professor, instructor, mentor, Elder, or teaching experience has had the most impact on your learning at UM?

I was of course inspired by the leadership of John A. Russell, Director of the School of Architecture during my studies at UM (1956-61). I was part of a cohort of architectural students who  revered this sympathetic  and approachable “god”  and his handpicked faculty of “western-fundamentalist-modernist” architects. Led by Professor Doug Gilmore and the eccentric Jim Donahue- a Mies van der Rohe admirer- this Bauhaus-West faculty  shaped our mission to enhance the cultural landscape  through excellent (modern)  design. Russell’s sensitivity had a lasting impact on me  when he instructed one newly appointed professor, Dimitri Styliaras, to remove his Swastika adorned PHD certificate (Berlin,1944) from his office wall – the presence of which shocked some of us Jewish students acutely conscious of the WW-2 Holocaust and this symbol of Nazi supremacy.

Share your best UM memory.

Except for drawing editorial cartoons for the “Manitoban” ,I confess that I didn’t participate in the broader student life offered by  UM. I was content to be part of the School of Architecture’s parochial sub-culture  and its dedicated focus on the specialized world of modern architecture and planning. My best UM memories may very well be associated with frequenting the Java Shop ,an existentialist  coffee house somewhere near the former Free Press Building on Carlton Street.  This was my home away from home where you could wear black turtleneck sweaters, drink  black espressos and  vigorously debate  art, literature, philosophy, music and revolution.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students thinking about joining (or currently enrolled at) the Faculty of Architecture?

Cultivate your creativity but learn to think critically. Learn to write.  I graduated from UM relying on my architectural design talents, only to discover my innate illiteracy when I enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland to earn a Master’s degree in Urban Design. My escape from “all nighters” was thwarted by the need to learn English as a first language while others were celebrating year -round Robbie Burns nights.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by the creativity, diversity and complexity of human cultures. And people with a sense of humour.

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