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  • Radical Attitudes: The Architecture of Douglas Cardinal
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Radical Attitudes: The Architecture of Douglas Cardinal


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One glance at any of Douglas Cardinal's architectural achievements, and 'radical' is no exaggeration. No other architect has so boldly expressed in brick and mortar, his attitudes and approach to life. Cardinal's language is 'organic', and his particular dialect, 'curvilinear'.

Douglas Cardinal is one of Canada's most iconoclastic architects and philosophers of architectural space. That his ancestry is part First Nations should explain why he was forced from the get-go to think outside the box. This documentary follows his controversial career - from bursting onto the architectural scene in the mid 1960s with his radically curvilinear St. Mary's Church in Red Deer, to a recent unparalleled architectural controversy over the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in the shadow of the American Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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.

As a pioneer in the introduction of computer aided architecture, Cardinal has spent a lifetime trying to elevate his discipline. His work is celebrated for its organic beauty and unique curvilinear style and includes such prestigious projects as the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Grande Prairie Regional College and the First Nations University of Canada.

Douglas Cardinal has raised eyebrows and tempers. Along the way he has also raised the bar of excellence and innovation in the world of architecture. Any film on Cardinal, therefore, contains more than one story. While it celebrates art in architecture and spirit of place, it can't help but be a story of an outsider who has had to fight for his radical designs every inch of the way.

Director Jim Hamm and writer PJ Reece have created a remarkable story of an outsider artist struggling against the establishment to change the course of architectural history. Here is a program rich in graphic images on the one hand, and a compelling human story on the other. Taken separately or together, Radical Attitudes is a memorable testimony to one man's courage.

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