Sketches of a port city: McGill architecture students capture Saint John vistas

Some of Saint John's finest historic buildings and its harbour are now on display at a student exhibition in Montreal. 

The watercolours and sketches were created by McGill students over the summer as part of a course organized by Ricardo Castro, a professor at the university's Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture.

"Basically we go to different places on the eastern seaboard, and in Ontario and Quebec," Castro said. 

This was the seventh time a group from the school had been to Saint John since the mid-1980s, when Castro first started taking students to the area.

"We sort of fell in love with the city, and we like very much to go there," Castro said. 

Saint John has architectural qualities that make it ideal for the students in the annual summer sketching school. There is a combination of residential and industrial, all of it on or near the water, Castro said.

McGill University Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture

"It's quite interesting surrounded by water. So all of these things contribute to what we call sketchability of the place," he said. 

Student Odile Lamy said while she enjoyed capturing the architecture of some of the buildings, she also found the topography of the area quite striking. 

"Looking at all the views of the ocean as we were walking around," Lamy said, adding that was something she and a lot of others sketched during their visit. 

McGill University Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture

For Lamy, capturing the structures and landscape of an area offers a different way of looking at the world, a view not provided by working in front of a computer screen. 

"The importance of sketching school for me is to remember the importance of just walking in the city, and looking around and being conscious of your environment," she said.

Castro said many of the pieces were done from the edge of the water looking out to the east and west sides of Saint John. 

The sketches and watercolours of Saint John will be on display at McGill's Macdonald Harrington Building until the end of November.