Photos by Fangliang Xu

Carleton University’s Manuel Báez has received an unpreceded three awards at the 2019 Ottawa Urban Design Awards for the Gather-Ring, a collaborative project with Ottawa glass artist Charlynne Lafontaine.

The awards include:

  • Award of Excellence: Community Initiatives, a new category highlighting the power of community action and/or community engagement;
  • People’s Choice Award, the program’s first-ever People’s Choice Award, recognizing the nominated project receiving the most votes in an online survey; and
  • Award of Merit: Urban Elements.

More than 30 Carleton students participated in this project, including a core team made up of Guillermo Bourget Morales, Sami Karimi, Josh Eckert and Aniq Chaudhry.

Three other Carleton students won awards for their own projects during the evening:

  • John Vieira and Vedad Haghighi won the Award of Merit, Student Project for Black Box Theatre on Nepean Point.
  • Madelaine Snelgrove won the Award of Excellence, Student Project for Power, Pulp, Paper and Print: Revealing the Industrial.
  • Guillermo Bourget Morales won the Award of Merit, Student Project for Sesquicentennial Waves, Brewer Park Pool.

Báez’s Gather-Ring combines two iconic symbols, the tree and dream catcher, evoking diverse cultural interpretations and discourse.

A speaker presents at a podium during the Urban Design Awards

Awards Celebrate Urban Design Excellence in the Nation’s Capital

“Throughout the history of the land on which Canada has been founded, trees have played a meaningful role, at times acquiring mythic status,” said Báez, professor in the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. “Emerging from the Earth and growing towards the sun, they bear fruit and witness the land’s history. Their leaves are light catchers and within their inner structure, annual growth rings are record keepers of the land, thus serving as stewards and symbols of our history, collective memory and dreams.”

In the spirit of reflection, community engagement, reconciliation and commemoration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Gather-Ring is a symbolic offering for cultural exchange, storytelling, discourse and contemplation. It won the 2017 national competition held by Canadian Heritage’s Art in the Capital Program for an artwork with a “dream” theme to be displayed on the Ottawa side of the Portage Bridge.

Consultation with Elders Claudette Commanda and Verna McGregor, both members of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg First Nation, were critical to the realization of the Gather-Ring.

Literally and figuratively, the site’s panoramic perspective beyond the heart of Canada’s capital region enhances the tradition of the Confederation Loop, a symbolic gathering circle with a rich history connecting Quebec, Ontario, Victoria Island and expanding out to include the nearby Chaudière Falls and beyond.

The project is part of the broader research-based Gathering Circles initiative established through Carleton and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) to provide lasting offerings to Ottawa’s Indigenous community. Culturally diverse groups of architecture students from Carleton worked on the Indigenous place-making offerings, including consultations with Elders, tenants, artists, community organizations and local businesses.

The Ottawa Urban Design Awards is a biennial awards program that celebrates projects in the City of Ottawa that achieve urban design excellence.

Read more about the Gather-Ring.

Thursday, October 10, 2019 in
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