Associate professor Laura Miller's new book, Toronto's Inclusive Modernity: The Architecture of Jerome Markson, is a critical examination of the career of an architect whose idiosyncratic buildings helped define modernity in Toronto.
Miller's research caught the attention of Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic, who wrote a story about Markson's legacy for Saturday's paper, in which Miller is quoted extensively as a subject expert.
Architects like to tell stories. They often have grand explanations for a particular shape or angle. But when I asked Jerome Markson why he chose red brick for the building we were sitting in, the David B. Archer Co-Operative in downtown Toronto, the architect laughed. “This whole city was made of brick! Mostly red brick, and some white brick” – a wave of the hand – “all from a couple of pits over there.”
This is true, and Markson is formed of that same clay. Born, raised and educated in Toronto, the 90 year old spent half a century shaping remarkable structures across the city and its suburbs. Those buildings are tough to summarize. He has no manifesto and he dislikes grand gestures.
But his work has plenty to teach us. It blends practicality with whimsy. It explores different strands of Modernism. But above all, for Markson, and others of his generation, architecture is a tool to build community.
All these themes resonate today, and they’ve been captured in a fine new book. The scholar Laura Miller’s Toronto’s Inclusive Modernity: The Architecture of Jerome Markson makes a strong case for Markson’s importance and relevance.
Miller, herself an architect and theorist, moved to teach at the University of Toronto about a decade ago, and she was fascinated early on by Markson’s work. “The quality of the architecture was remarkably high,” she said, “and I realized that you couldn’t really understand it without understanding the city.”
Read the rest of the story at the Globe and Mail.
A photography exhibition based on Laura Miller's book will open in the Daniels Building's Larry Wayne Richards Gallery on January 29. Details are here.