The Greatest Crime Ever Committed by Architects

One of the most arresting pieces of installation art I’ve ever seen is the Book Burning Memorial in Berlin’s Bebelplatz . It commemorates the books Nazis burnt as part of their war on intellectuals, and on those they ostracized and persecuted. A glass plate is set into the square, providing a view of empty white book shelves as a symbol of the books’ absence.

Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism has an exhibit on now that deals with a different but related theme; the point of view that a very specific architecture was put in place to effect the crimes committed by the Nazis. It’s a piece about what was built, rather than what was taken away as in Bebelplatz. Here’s the information that Carleton is providing about the piece:

The Evidence Room – Anne Bordeleau, Robert Jan Van Pelt, Sascha Hastings & Donald McKay

The greatest crime ever committed by architects
— Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, exhibition principal and University Professor, University of Waterloo School of Architecture

The Evidence Room is currently on view, through February 16th 2018 in the Lightroom Gallery at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. This powerful installation features some of the thousands of documents which historian Robert Jan van Pelt introduced as evidence in a court case in London in 2000. His expert testimony was key to outcome of the case, proving that Auschwitz was purposefully designed as a death camp.

This version of exhibit features over twenty of these documents cast in white plaster. The casts were produced under the direction of Dr. Anne Bordeleau, director of the School of Architecture at Waterloo University, and feature architectural evidence such as drawings, correspondences and photographs. The work is a silent witness to this chapter of human history, and a reminder of architecture’s complicity.

This is a rare opportunity to view this work locally. The Evidence Room has been shown in 2016 at the Venice Biennale and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and in 2017 at the Royal Ontario Museum. We are very grateful to have this important exhibition with us, and to share it with the larger Carleton University and Ottawa communities.

Gallery hours are 9:00am – 4:30pm, Monday – Friday, and can be opened at other times by special request.