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Thursday, June 10, 1999

  • Architecture to be grad program
  • Architecture in the park
  • Conference about Thomas Merton
  • Events of today at UW

Architecture to be grad program

The UW school of architecture has invited comments on a proposed change to its program: by January 2001, it intends to join other schools across Canada in offering a professionally accredited Master of Architecture degree.

Up until now, UW architecture students earned a three-year Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree, followed by a two-year Bachelor of Architecture. Under the new scheme, an expanded four-year BES will be offered to meet the admission requirements for the one-year MArch.

Fashion note

Overheard outside Needles Hall this morning . . .
Male student in flawless navy blue suit: I've always wanted to go into an interview wearing, like, a gaudy pink suit.
Second male student, dressed likewise: I'm not sure pink's the way to go, for an interview.
"Architecture students and graduates have expressed overwhelming support for this view," said architecture director Rick Haldenby.

Other Canadian schools of architecture have, over the past decade, converted the BArch to MArch, leaving Waterloo as the only one still offering a BArch and the only one without a graduate program.

"While employers have in past relied on the strength of the candidate's experience and portfolio, and the accredited degree as a basis for hiring, there is increasing skepticism about the Waterloo BArch when our students and graduates are interviewed," he added. As well, "excellent students are being lost to master's programs elsewhere."

Changes to the undergraduate program are expected to be implemented by September 2000, and for the new graduate component, the school needs the approval of UW's senate, as well as the province and the Canadian Architectural Certification Board.

"Our position is quite unique," added Haldenby. Because of the co-op component of the undergraduate program, technical, computing and conceptual skills, and knowledge of professional practices are introduced earlier than in most programs. Since students become accomplished in architectural design sooner in their academic careers in this "front-loading program," UW's MArch will concentrate more on specialization and research-based activity, he said.

"The MArch will be absolutely unlike others," with an emphasis on design of cultural sites, urban and environmental design for mid-sized communities, the "science of building" (in collaboration with the UW civil engineering department), design of small buildings in urban areas, and information technology -- "an area where we've been real leaders."

Architecture in the park -- observations by Barbara Elve

A Machine in the Garden -- "a public outdoor exhibition of 14 environmental constructions by 2nd year students from the school of architecture" -- explores the interplay of nature and architecture along the banks of Laurel Creek in Waterloo Park.

Just a stone's throw from campus, teams of students have entered a dialogue with earth, wind and water, creating a series of constructions combining whimsical, functional, and aesthetic elements.

Built primarily of organic materials, the constructions begin at the north end of the park with a spiral hut of straw which leads the visitor from the bright afternoon heat into a darker, cooler core.

Further along the creek, a path of stepping stones runs from the bank onto a play platform in the middle of the stream., with an aqueduct feeding a water trough alongside the platform. Eric Mann, one of the students who worked on the project, describes the installation as "intensifying what is idyllic about the water, and juxtaposing it with the polluted reality". The platform has enticed children to mid-stream play, and even a sunbather to sprawl on the deck.

Further down the path, a curving wall of earth bricks rises from the ground, a kinetic, revolving door construction uses fabric to catch the wind, and an environmentally-friendly wooden walkway enters the marsh.

The architectural conversation concludes with an exploration of the boundary between the south end of the park and the adjacent industrial land.

A Machine in the Garden opened this week along the Waterloo Park promenade and continues through June 25.

Conference about Thomas Merton

[Drawing of Merton] Poetry, meditation, faith, politics and history will all be under discussion at St. Jerome's University over the next few days, as scholars from around the world gather to talk about a single man,
Thomas Merton.

Since his death in 1968, there has been steady interest in Merton, described as "one of the twentieth century's most eloquent and accessible spiritual figures . . . poet, critic, rebel and sage". A Trappist monk who lived at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, Merton came to sudden prominence in 1948 when -- still a young man -- he published a now famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain.

Today through Sunday, the International Thomas Merton Society will meet at UW, assembling outside the United States for the first time. The theme of the conference, "Magnetic North/ True North: Geography Beyond Boundaries", has particular resonance in a Canadian setting, says conference organizer Michael Higgins, dean (and soon to be president) of St. Jerome's and author of two Merton books, including Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton, published last year.

Says Higgins: "Our keynote speaker, Canadian author, editor, and social activist Mary Jo Leddy, will talk about northern mysticism, what she calls the luminous consciousness of the northern landscape. She'll draw on the writings of Margaret Atwood and Jane Urquhart in her critique of Merton, and will talk about how she sees her life in a meaningful way in this Canadian landscape."

Over the years, the international Merton conferences have drawn large crowds from both academic circles and the broader community. "People are interested in the perduring quality of his message," says Higgins. "Obviously, at some fundamental level, Merton has spoken to them. His voice has touched them in some way."

"Magnetic North/ True North" is open to the public and will offer a wide range of sessions designed to examine and celebrate Merton in word, thought, film, music, and art. "We did not want to replicate the model that exists for leaned societies, where you have a series of concurrent sessions by academics who speak to each other," says Higgins. "We do have those, but we also have general or plenary sessions designed to provide some public reflection on Merton by somebody who is not a Merton scholar. Issues that were Merton's issues and are the issues of many of us -- interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, peace, human integration, the genuine meaning of authentic freedom and love -- will be addressed in these general sessions."

Other events include concerts and performances celebrating aspects of Merton's writing and life. "Song: Contemplation" by Canadian composer Alfred Kunz, which premiered at the launch last fall of Higgins's book, will be reprised. Kevin Burns, CBC producer and drama director, will present a multi-media dramatic encapsulation of Merton's life and vision. There will be a dramatic and choral presentation of aspects of the relationship between Thomas Merton and the great Mennonite thinker John Howard Yoder, featuring the Da Capo chamber choir, conducted by composer Leonard Enns.

Meditation sessions will round out the program, led by people from both Christian and non-Christian traditions, including a tai chi expert, a Zen Buddhist, and Jesuits from the Guelph Centre of Spirituality.

Events of today at UW

Name was wrong

In yesterday's Bulletin, and also yesterday's Gazette, the name of one of the new "TA developers" in the teaching resource office was given wrongly. She's not just "Penny Light" -- that's her double surname -- but Tracy Penny Light.
The senate research council will meet at 1:30 today in Needles Hall room 3001.

Training in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is available today: a one-hour session involving a video and brief quiz. The session starts at 2 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1304. Says the safety office, taking the law at face value: "All university employees, volunteers, part-time employees and graduate students who have not previously attended a University of Waterloo WHMIS session are required to attend."

Artwork by Frances Kirk, who works in UW's graphics department by day and creates oil and coloured chalk work by night, will be on display for the next while in UW's Graduate House. The exhibit opens this evening, and from 5:00 to 7:30 Kirk will be there to talk with visitors. "Framed keepsake colour copies are available for $20."

A local dance school called Scott's Studio of Steps has the Humanities Theatre booked for its spring recital tonight at 7:30.

Something called Healthy Communities '99, hosted by the community services department of Woolwich Township, will bring 125 visitors to the Ron Eydt Village conference centre today through Saturday.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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