Eva Vecsei

Eva Vecsei, née Hollo (born at Vienna 21 Aug 1930), architect. Eva Vecsei studied architecture at the Budapesti Muszaki Egyetem (University of Technical Sciences, Budapest) and was an assistant professor (1952-53) at the University's School of Architecture. From 1953 to 1956, she was an architect for the Architectural Institute of Residential Design in Budapest. Among her projects in Hungary are Housing for Miners, Tatabanya (1954) and the Lagymano Housing Project and School (1955-56). She arrived in Montréal in 1957 with her husband, Andrew Vecsei (1926-2006), became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1962, and went on to become a pioneering woman in the architectural profession in Canada.

In Canada, Vecsei was involved in some of the largest architectural developments in the 1960s and 1970s. An associate at ARCOP from 1958 to 1971, she acted as head project designer for PLACE BONAVENTURE (1964-67), working closely with ARCOP's partner in charge of the project, Raymond T. AFFLECK. The ribbed concrete facades of this monumental multi-use complex in downtown Montréal coincide with Vecsei's affinity for a poetic and sensuous use of modernist forms.

From 1971 to 1973, Vecsei was an associate at Dimitri DIMAKOPOULOS, Architect, Montréal, and in 1973 opened her own practice, Eva H. Vecsei Architect, Montréal. It was as head of her own firm that she undertook the mammoth La Cité project (1973-77) consisting of an office building, a 500-room hotel, 3 residential towers, and an underground retail area connecting all of these elements on a 7-acre site. This highly controversial project, commissioned by Concordia Estates Limited, required the demolition of blocks of Victorian housing and made architectural preservation a subject of public interest in Montréal.

Eva Vecsei was also an early proponent of the use of rooftops as viable urban green spaces (an interest to which the designs of both Place Bonaventure and La Cité bear witness) and coined the term "fifth elevation" to represent the architecture of roofs.

Eva Vecsei and her husband were co-principals of Vecsei Architects and have worked generally on small-scale residential, religious, commercial and civic projects, including an office building in Karachi, Pakistan (1986), and in Dollard des Ormeaux, Québec, a municipal library (1990) and a cultural centre (2003), which juxtaposes structural volumes and natural lighting.

Vecsei's work, both in Canada and internationally, has been widely praised, and she has received numerous honours, including The Canadian Architect Award of Excellence in 1983. She was named a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in 1988 and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1990. In 2003, the Greenway Almanac of Architecture and Design recognized her as one of the preeminent women in architecture and design of the 20th century. In 2004, Eva Vecsei was honoured by the Order of Architects of Quebec with La Médaille du Mérite.