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Manitoba Business: Green Blankstein Russell and Associates

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Winnipeg saw a boom in modernist architecture beginning in the 1950s. Few architectural firms could claim to have had a greater impact on this development than Green Blankstein Russell (GBR). From civil to religious, educational to industrial, their influence continues to be felt throughout the city.

Founded in March 1932 by Lawrence John “Laurie” Green, Cecil Nathan Blankstein, Gordon Leslie Russell, and Ralph Carl Ham as Green, Blank, Russell and Associates, the firm would work steadily in the first two decades of its existence. However, it was not until after the Second World War that it would begin to develop its own modernist style and begin to truly make a mark on the city. After a number of low-cost housing proposals for the municipal government failed to receive funding, the firm put the experience and knowledge they developed into the Wildwood Park neighborhood in the city’s south.

The 1950s had the firm develop churches (Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, St. George’s Anglican Church, and St. Paul’s College and Chapel), commercial spaces (Polo Park Shopping Centre) and office buildings (Great West Life Building). However, its biggest impact on the city was to come in the following decade. The renewal of the city’s downtown began with the new City Hall complex in 1964. By the end of the decade this urban development project included the Centennial Concert Hall and the Museum of Man and Nature and the Planetarium directly across from City Hall.

The modernist style of the Fort Garry campus of the University of Manitoba would be heavily influenced by GBR. Notable buildings include the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, Science Complex, St. Andrew’s College, and Duff Roblin Building. The aesthetic brought to the campus by GBR and other local firms would come to be called University of Manitoba Modern. The firm would continue to develop projects in various sectors throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This includes the Asper Jewish Community Campus (1997) that currently houses most of the city’s Jewish organizations.

In 2004, the firm was acquired by the Edmonton-based Stantec group of companies.

Collections at the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada that highlight the work of GBR includes the Cecil Blankstein fonds, which include photographs and drawings of the firm’s work as well as newspaper clippings, newsletters, and correspondence.

Some of the firm’s architectural works in Manitoba included:

Building

Location

Year

Status

Steiman Block (conversion to hotel)

541 Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg

1933

 

Park Theatre (renovation)

698 Osborne Street, Winnipeg

1936

 

Roxy Theatre (renovation)

291 Hamilton Street, Neepawa

1936

 

Leland Theatre / State Theatre (renovation)

572 Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg

1938

Demolished (?)

Out-Patient Building, St. Boniface General Hospital

409 avenue Taché, Winnipeg

1938

Demolished (2022)

Curtis Apartments

111-113 Smith Street, Winnipeg

1939

Demolished (?)

Dominion Electric Building

87 Princess Street, Winnipeg

1945

 

Viscount Alexander School

810 Waterford Avenue, Winnipeg

1948

 

Nordale School

99 Birchdale Avenue, Winnipeg

1949

 

Shaarey Zedek Synagogue

561 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg

1949-1950

 

Elizabeth Dafoe Library

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1951-1953

 

Glendale Golf and Country Clubhouse

400 Augier Avenue, Winnipeg

1951

 

Kent Road School

361 Kent Road, Winnipeg

1952

 

YMHA Community Centre

370 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg

1952

Demolished (?)

Pembina Hotel

1011 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg

1953

Demolished (2022)

Kent Road School (expansion)

361 Kent Road, Winnipeg

1955

 

Manitoba Power Commission Building

1075 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

1955

 

St. Thomas Anglican Church (extension and parish offices)

1567 William Avenue West, Winnipeg

1957

 

Campbell Soup Plant

Fifteenth Street NW, Portage la Prairie

1957-1958

Closed (1991)

St. George’s Anglican Church

168 Wilton Street, Winnipeg

1957-1958

 

Polo Park Shopping Centre

Winnipeg

1957-1959

 

Great West Life Building

80 Osborne Street, Winnipeg

c1958

 

Prendergast School

906 Cottonwood Road, Winnipeg

c1958

 

Windsor Park Collegiate

1015 Cottonwood Road, Winnipeg

1959

 

St. Andrew's College

29 Dysart Road, Winnipeg

1963

 

Winnipeg City Hall

510 Main Street, Winnipeg

1963-1964

 

Winnipeg International Airport

2000 Wellington Avenue, Winnipeg

1964

Demolished (?)

Willow Park Co-operative Housing Development

Dorset Street at Burrows Avenue, Winnipeg

1964-1965

 

Christ the King Roman Catholic Church

847 St. Mary’s Road, Winnipeg

1964-1965

 

Civic Centre Parkade

171 Princess Street, Winnipeg

1965

Demolished (2020)

National Trust Building

Portage Avenue at Garry Street, Winnipeg

1965

 

Allan Physics Building (expansion)

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1966

 

Parker Chemistry Building (expansion)

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1966

 

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church

737 Bannerman Avenue, Winnipeg

1966

 

Deloraine High School (expansion and renovations)

Deloraine

c1967

 

Engineering Building (expansion)

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1967

 

Centennial Concert Hall

555 Main Street, Winnipeg

1966-1968

 

Duff Roblin Building

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1968

 

Deloraine Elementary School (expansion)

Deloraine

1968

 

Air Cargo Terminal

Winnipeg International Airport, Winnipeg

1968

 

Greenhouse Building

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1969

 

National School Studios Headquarters

King Edward Street at Madison Avenue, Winnipeg

1969

 

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature and Planetarium

190 Rupert Avenue, Winnipeg

1966-1970

 

Holy Family Nursing Home (expansion)

165 Aberdeen Avenue, Winnipeg

1970

 

Freshwater Institute

University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg

1970-1972

 

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: William Donald “Don” Baldwin (1925-2006)

Memorable Manitobans: Cecil Nathan Blankstein (1908-1989)

Memorable Manitobans: Bernard Brown (1931-2012)

Memorable Manitobans: Lawrence John Green (1899-1969)

Memorable Manitobans: Ralph Carl Ham (1902-1942)

Memorable Manitobans: Jacob “Jack” Hoogstraten (1908-1983)

Memorable Manitobans: Easton Irving Lexier (1926-2020)

Memorable Manitobans: Gordon Leslie Russell (1901-1977)

Memorable Manitobans: Joshua Sumner (1906-1966)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Blankstein House (131 Machray Avenue, Winnipeg)

GBR: Green Blankstein Russell and Associates, An Architectural Legacy by Jeffrey Thorsteinson and Brennan Smith, Winnipeg: Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, 2017.

Sources:

“Curtis Apartments, Winnipeg's newest block,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 August 1939, page 6.

“200 can make home-history,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 September 1964, page 9.

“Sod-turning for Co-op housing [Willow Park],” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 September 1964, page 25.

“Go ahead signal for Civic Centre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 October 1964, page 52.

[Photo caption - National Trust building], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 January 1965, page 20.

“Green Blankstein Russell Associates - Executive Appointments,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 March 1966, page 19.

“University of Manitoba geared for growth,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1966, page 38.

“Tenders for additions to the Allan and Parker Buildings, the University of Manitoba,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 1966, page 58.

“Tenders for additions and alterations to Deloraine High School,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 September 1966, page 40.

“Tenders for Zoology-Psychology Building, the University of Manitoba,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 April 1967, page 63.

“$2.8 million Engineering Wing for U of M,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 April 1966, page 12.

“New St. Nicholas dedication Sunday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 July 1966, page 28.

“U of M building opens soon [Engineering Building],” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 September 1967, page 4.

“Tender for Deloraine Elementary School,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 October 1967, page 49.

“Air Canada [Air Cargo Terminal],” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 November 1967, page 45.

“Tenders for Greenhouse for the University of Manitoba,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 August 1968, page 22.

“National School to build new plant,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 October 1968, page 60.

“Tenders for Holy Family Nursing Home,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 May 1969, page 40.

“Fresh Water Institute [Fresh Water Institute, Fisheries Research Board of Canada at the University of Manitoba campus],” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 August 1970, page 37.

Green, Blankstein, Russell and the construction of modern Winnipeg” by Andrew Morrison, Canadian Jewish Studies, Volume 31, pages 175-180, 2021.

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We thank Belle Jarniewski (Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada) and Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Andrew Morrison, Gordon Goldsborough, and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 26 November 2022

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