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Antoine Predock – The Architect

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Architecture tells a story of our place in time, it has a deep impact on our psyche, and tells a story of who we are.  To quote Winston Churchill, “We make our buildings, and then our buildings make us.”   

One the major highlights so far while working at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has been my trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet architect extraordinaire, Antoine Predock.  I had the privilege of meeting with Antoine to present a concept for a signature museum program which has been designed to provide a core human rights and architectural tour experience.  

I was not alone.  

I travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with self-proclaimed building whisperer Frank Albo and respected Elder Dave Courchene, who represents a core group of Indigenous Elders working on the tour program, named the Elders Circle Seven.  In the spirit of partnership, we presented this innovative museum tour program to Antoine Predock. The concept is centred on marrying his architectural vision of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with Indigenous perspectives of the earth, Territory 1, and the collective human family.  

We met in Predock’s Albuquerque Studio.  

 
Les bureaux d'Antoine Predock
 

While planning for the trip to New Mexico, I had envisioned meeting Antoine Predock, The Architect, in a staunch, highly modern designed office. I imagined he would be suited-up, behind a desk, neatly folded hands atop a high gloss surfaced desk, listening patiently to us present, then departing back to where he came from. 

This formality proved not to be the case.  

 
Les bureaux d'Antoine Predock

As I was paying for our cab, the infamous Predock rolled in on his über-cool motorcycle, swiftly parked, pulled off his helmet, threw on a beanie-like black toque over his head, and headed over to greet us in his faded Levis.  We were instantly drawn to his energetic spirit, warm smile, and artistic hand stretched out to welcome us.  In these moments, our collective nervousness vanished and set the tone for what would be one of the most extraordinary meetings I have ever had.  

Once we finished presenting our tour concept, Antoine and his team expressed their approval with respect. They embraced our approach as being wholly congruent with their intent and vision to provide visitors with a transformative experience rooted in a symbolic expression of architecture that would make tangible "the fundamental commonality of humankind."   The Indigenous Spirit of the Building Tour program was born.  

The meeting ended as Antoine jetted off to attend another engagement in another city, and we were treated to a special tour of his Albuquerque Studio - and what a studio it is!  We continued to elaborate the interpretive elements of the Museum’s tour program with Antoine’s Senior Associate, Graham Hogan.  

Ultimately, the trip solidified our goal of creating a unique tour program experience that connects Indigenous beliefs, values and traditional teachings of the Turtle to physical elements symbolically represented in the building’s architectural design.

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