After the passing of George Baird in October, ERA principal Graeme Stewart reflected in Azure Magazine on his relationship with the architectural theorist and educator and the great value of engaging with architecture and urbanism through an interdisciplinary prism. Baird has been described as a member of what is sometimes referred to as “The Toronto School of Economic and Urban Thought” along with Marshall McLuhan, Jane Jacobs, Naomi Klein, and Doug Saunders, a group exemplifying the power of collective, lateral thought. From his thesis at the University of Toronto to later collaborative research ventures with Baird to the culmination of the Tower Renewal initiative, Graeme explores what made Baird the architectural giant he’s remembered as.
Stepping into George’s office as a young student was like entering a sanctum of deep knowledge — going behind the wizard’s curtain. To my eyes, he seemed omniscient, kind and encouraging, but also incredibly formidable. He was in regular correspondence with fellow giants of global architectural thought like Rem Koolhaas, Kenneth Frampton, and Peter Eisenman. George was deeply tapped into — and significantly contributed to — the wider ideas of this world. This was a man who not only shaped the modern curriculum at the school of architecture but was a key actor in the City’s self-conception and transformation.from Graeme Stewart’s feature “George Baird and the Toronto School”
also: Watch Graeme Stewart’s 2022 George Baird Lecture
Photograph by Andre Beneteau