Women’s Contributions to Manitoba’s Built Environment

The Case of Green Blankstein Russell

Authored by: Marieke Gruwel

The Routledge Companion to Women in Architecture

Print publication date:  June  2021
Online publication date:  June  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367232344
eBook ISBN: 9780429278891
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429278891-25

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Abstract

Through their roles as architects, planners, and interior designers, women have been able to assert themselves into the architectural communities that have shaped Manitoba’s built environment during the modernist era (1945–1975). However, these contributions remain relatively unknown in official histories. This chapter aims to begin the process of addressing the void through an examination of one of Winnipeg’s—and arguably one of Canada’s—most prominent architectural firms during this period: Green Blankstein Russell (GBR). Between 1920 and 1960, the University of Manitoba had the highest number of women graduates in Canada who became registered architects, and several of these women went on to work at GBR. In fact, in 1946, GBR became one of the first firms in Western Canada to retain a woman interior designer on staff. In 1959, GBR principal Cecil Blankstein brought architect and city planner Elizabeth Pilcher from Sydney, Australia, to lead the firm’s planning department. Despite their important contribution, these architects have been largely left out of Manitoba’s historical narratives, and the inquiry into GBR as a case study highlights the lives and work of remarkable women who have shaped Manitoba’s architectural landscape.

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