1) Associate Professor, McGill University, School of Architecture,

2) Senior Conservation Architect, Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet and Associates Architects,


The use of masonry is inextricably linked to a cultural desire to mark, communicate and preserve value and meaning in a permanent manner. From boundary markers, decrees, funerary sculpture, to cultural and religious building; stone has often been the material of choice.

The design of traditional masonry structures, the result of collaboration between mason and architect, was based on an understanding of the cultural values, social structure, material qualities and techniques of shaping and bonding. The masonry work embodied at once, meaning, form, structure, and envelope, which resulted in works of high architectural integrity and durability.

Cultural, societal, and technological changes have transformed the way we understand and design masonry. Masonry has either been relegated to a reinforced inner structural wall or a thin exterior cladding. A multi-disciplinary team now conceives walls as an envelope assembly composed of different materials each intended to perform a specific function.

Developing a clear understanding of masonry as a material, its tradition throughout history and its potential in contemporary practice is essential to create a comprehensive and appropriate attitude towards the conservation of existing and design of new masonry structures.