Saskatchewan architecture book wins Great Plains prize

Bernard Flaman

"Architecture of Saskatchewan: A Visual Journey, 1930-2011" by Bernard Flaman is this year's winner of the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska.

The book chronicles building styles in the Canadian prairie province of Saskatchewan, part of the Great Plains of North America. Saskatchewan, a place once famous for its sod huts, has seen a revolution in design with buildings that reflect new technology and changing environmental ideals. The book picks up chronologically where a previous book, "Historic Architecture of Saskatchewan" (1986), left off and features more than 150 building photos — from gas stations and houses to businesses and academic buildings.

"Flaman places the varied styles within national and international movements in design, but also in their political and economic contexts. Observers in other parts of the Great Plains will recognize these styles in their own built environment and come to a deeper appreciation of the forces shaping it," said Kari Ronning, book prize chair, a research associate professor of English, and textiles, clothing and design.

Flaman, based in Regina, Saskatchewan, is a conservation architect for Canada's Public Works and Government Services. He co-curated the 2004 exhibition, "Character and Controversy," at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which examined modernist architecture in Saskatchewan. He is a member of both the Saskatchewan Association of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

"The photographs and drawings contained in the book tell a major part of the story. Inevitably, they show the context, landscape, sky and light of the Great Plains as well as the architecture of the province of Saskatchewan. The best buildings in the book illustrate a material connection and a relationship with the landscape and environment of the Great Plains," Flaman said.

Flaman said he hopes the book builds the public's visual literacy in relation to architecture — to teach people how to look at buildings. "The most gratifying comment I receive goes something like this: 'I know all of these buildings, I just haven't looked at them before.'"

Flaman will deliver a lecture at the Center for Great Plains Studies in the fall. The book prize winner receives a cash prize of $5,000 and the Distinguished Book Prize medallion. The prize was created to emphasize the interdisciplinary importance of the Great Plains in today's publishing and educational market. Only first-edition, full-length, nonfiction books published in 2013 were evaluated for the award.

"Architecture of Saskatchewan" was published in 2013 by the University of Regina Press with partial financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Center for Great Plains Studies is a regional research and teaching program at the University of Nebraska. Its mission is to foster study of the people and the environment of the Great Plains. For more information, go to http://www.unl.edu/plains.

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