Radical Attitudes: the Architecture of Douglas Cardinal

Watch in person
  • Directed by Jim Hamm
  • 2004Canada58 minutesEnglish

Never one to build meaningless boxes designed for obsolescence, Métis architect Douglas Cardinal has spent a lifetime striving to elevate architecture. His work is celebrated nationally and internationally for its organic beauty and unique curvilinear style. With such prestigious projects as the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the First Nations University of Canada, he has established a design process informed and enriched by his aboriginal roots-consultative, holistic and nurtured by what he calls sacred trust. But his extraordinary career has also been marked by tumult. Exacting and outspoken, Douglas Cardinal has never shied from controversy. Radical Attitudes chronicles Cardinal’s highs and lows, including his headlong plunge into the computer age in which he banished all his team’s drawing boards in favour of an untested electronic tool, a maneuver he characterizes as like Cortez burning the ships. This fast-paced documentary also delves into Cardinal’s controversial standoff with the Smithsonian and their botched collaboration on the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened September 2004 in Washington, DC. Interviews with renowned architect Arthur Erickson, Cardinal’s long-time colleague Satish Rao, Washington Post architecture critic Benjamin Forgey and representatives from the Smithsonian paint a complex picture of an uncompromising visionary and artist.

Winnipeg Public Library