A Progressive Traditionalist

By (author): Glenn McArthur

Winner of the Heritage Toronto Award

John M. Lyle (1872–1945) was an anomaly among architects: a Beaux-Arts classicist who nevertheless found much inspiration in modernism, allowing his own traditionalist practice to be affected in form and detail by a brave new emphasis on minimalism and indigenous influence. His early works, including countless legendary banks and residences, as well as the iconic Union Station and Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, are exemplary of Beaux-Arts classicism; his later bank designs in Halifax, Calgary and Toronto display a modernist shift and see him championing an idiosyncratic and authentic regional consciousness.

A Progressive Traditionalist traces this aesthetic trajectory through the tumultuous first half of the twentieth century, documenting Lyle’s training at Yale and in Paris, his early career in New York and his later successin Toronto, including his tireless efforts to raise the profile of the profession through teaching, writing, curating and lecturing, and his attempts to pave the way for a uniquely Canadian architecture.

‘A book on Lyle is long overdue. Glenn McArthur has given us an elegant and thoughtful publication which sets a new standard for documenting our architectural legacy.’

– Bruce Kuwabara, KPMB Architects

‘Most Canadian architects are simply architects who practice in Canada; but for John Lyle, being a Canadian architect meant practicing Canadian architecture in Canada. Glenn McArthur brings Lyle, brilliant designer and passionate cultural nationalist, vividly to life.’ – Christopher Hume


Glenn McArthur

Glenn McArthur is a designer, photographer, author, and artist whose work has been exhibited in several galleries. He has worked as a graphic designer for advertising agencies and design studios in both New York City and Toronto. His book on the architect William Thomas received glowing reviews and numerous awards.


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240 Pages
9.25in * 11in * .75in


April 15, 2009


Coach House Books



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