Phyllis Lambert

Critic; Curator; Academic; Editor; Lecturer; Executive / Architecture; Urban Design/Urban Planning / Canada / Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)

Phyllis Lambert, architect, is Founding Director Emeritus of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, an international research center and museum founded in 1979 on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Lambert first made architectural history as the Director of Planning of the Seagram Building (1954-58) in New York City. She is recognized internationally for her contribution to advancing contemporary architecture, for her concern for the social issues of urban conservation and for the role of architecture in the public realm, and for the programs of the CCA.

With a parallel commitment to intervention in the urban fabric, Lambert founded Héritage Montréal in 1975, and four years later was instrumental in establishing the Société d'Amélioration de Milton-Parc, the largest nonprofit cooperative housing renovation project in Canada. From 1984 to 2007, she served on the Board of the Vieux Port de Montréal, which is credited with the transformation of the city’s historic area from industrial to societal use. In 1996, Lambert formed the Fonds d’investissement de Montréal (FIM), the only private investment fund in Canada participating in the revitalization of housing in low- and medium-income neighborhoods. She is a participant in the revival of Montreal’s downtown west quarter, through the Table de concertation du Centre-ville ouest, the roundtable she initiated in 2005. Lambert’s active involvement in shaping the city also continues through the Institut de politiques alternatives de Montréal (IPAM), an independent think tank contributing long-term viable urban planning, economic and sustainable development, and local democracy in Montreal.

Lambert has pioneered publications on photography and architecture, architecture and landscape, and various periods in the history of the architecture of Montreal and the last half of the 20th century in New York City. Lambert’s writings include major essays in Court House: A Photographic Document; Photography and Architecture; Architecture and Its Image; Canadian Centre for Architecture: Buildings and Gardens; and En chantier, the Collections of the CCA, 1989–1999. Lambert is editor and author of Opening the Gates of Eighteenth-Century Montréal; Fortifications and the Synagogue: The Fortress of Babylon and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo; Viewing Olmsted: Photographs by Robert Burley, Lee Friedlander, and Geoffrey James; and Mies in America. Building Seagram, a cultural history of architecture, art, urban regulations, and real estate, as well as conservation and stewardship in New York City, from 1950 to 2000, was published in 2013.

Lambert holds a B.A. (1948) from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, an M.S. (1963) in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and honorary degrees from 27 universities in North America and in Europe. With major contributions to scholarship and architecture, as well as a tireless commitment to civic activism, Lambert has been recognized with numerous awards and distinctions. She is a recipient of the Prix Gérard-Morisset; the World Monuments Fund’s Hadrian Award; the Prix d’excellence de l’Opération patrimoine architectural of the City of Montréal and Héritage Montréal; the Preservation League of New York State’s Pillar of New York Award; the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service; and the 2008 Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award of the Canadian Urban Institute, Toronto. Phyllis Lambert has received the highest civil honors in Canada as Companion of the Order of Canada and Grand officier de l’Ordre national du Québec. France has appointed her Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie has named her Chevalier of the Ordre de la Pléiade. Lambert is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the American Institute of Architects, and Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians.

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