Phyllis Lambert

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Phyllis Lambert
Born Phyllis Barbara Bronfman
(1927-01-24) January 24, 1927 (age 90)
Montreal, Quebec
Nationality Canadian
Parent(s) Samuel Bronfman (father)
Saidye Rosner Bronfman (mother)
Relatives Edgar Bronfman, Sr. (brother)
Charles Bronfman (brother)
Awards Order of Canada
National Order of Quebec
Golden Lion, Venice Biennale of Architecture

Phyllis Barbara Lambert, CC GOQ FRAIC FRSC RCA (née Bronfman; born January 24, 1927) is a Canadian architect, philanthropist, and member of the Bronfman family.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Montreal, she studied at The Study, a premier independent school for girls, Vassar College (BA in 1948).

On 17 May 1949, in Montreal, she married Jean Lambert, a French-German[1] economic consultant and the only son of Adolphe Lambert of Elmhurst, Queens, New York.[2][3][4][5] The couple divorced in 1954.[6]

In 1951 Lambert's father Samuel Bronfman established Cemp Investments, a holding company for his four children, in which Phyllis was given a 22% ownership stake. It controlled the family’s distilling empire, The Seagram Company Ltd., which over time controlled billions of dollars in liquor, real estate, oil and gas, and chemical companies.[7] She served on the board of directors of Cemp's subsidiary, Cadillac Fairview.

Lambert moved to New York City in 1954 to learn more about architecture, and graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1963. In the 1960s, she designed the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal, named after her mother. As Director of Planning for the Seagram Building,[8] she was influential in bringing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe onto the project, also recommending him for the Toronto-Dominion Centre design, a project on which she served as a consultant.

In 1975, she founded the heritage preservation group Heritage Montreal.[9]

In 1979, she founded the Canadian Centre for Architecture, a museum and research centre in Montreal's Shaughnessy Village neighbourhood, and donated 750,000 shares of Seagram to help fund the Centre. Lambert has also been an advocate in efforts to revitalize the struggling Shaughnessy Village district.[10][11]

She also helped lead a successful fight against an earlier design for Place Montreal Trust on McGill College Avenue, which would have included an office tower that partially obscured the view of Mount Royal. Lambert even picketed the offices of project developer Cadillac Fairview, of which she was a board member.[12]

In 1990 she received an honorary DFA in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. In 1992, she was made Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France. She holds honorary degrees from some 26 universities in North America and in Europe.

Her work also includes serving as developer on the restoration of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles by architect Gene Summers as well as designing the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

In 1985 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada, promoted to Officer in 1990, and promoted to Companion in 2001. In 1985, she was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec and was promoted to Grand Officer in 2005.

Lambert was awarded the Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum in 2006. Executive director Chase Rynd stated, "The Museum is honored to present its 2006 Scully Prize to Phyllis Lambert for a lifetime of outstanding achievements in the design of the built environment. From the Seagram Building to the CCA, to her work as a preservationist and educator, Phyllis Lambert has deeply enhanced the world we build for ourselves."[13]

In 2007 a documentary film about Lambert, Citizen Lambert: Joan of architecture, was released by Filmoption International. The movie was directed by Teri Wehn-Damisch.

In 2014 it was announced[14] that Lambert will be the recipient of the Golden Lion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2016, she was awarded the Wolf Prize in Arts.[15]


  1. ^ "Lambert & Co.: 'Some Mistakes'—Head of Investment House Looks Back on Losses", The New York Times, 1 April 1967, pages 31 and 44
  2. ^ "Phyllis Bronfman Wed in Montreal", The New York Times, 18 May 1949, page L-31
  3. ^ Canadian Jewish Review, 16 September 1949, page 18
  4. ^ Jean Lambert later became a banker, founding Lambert & Company, an investment bank in New York City; he was not Baron Jean Lambert of the Belgian banking family.
  5. ^ Jean Lambert married, in 1963, as his second wife, Jacqueline Reille, the former wife of Christian, Count de Fels, per "Jean Lambert, Investor, Marries Countess Reille", The New York Times, 25 November 1963, page L-22
  6. ^ "Lambert & Co.: 'Some Mistakes'—Head of Investment House Looks Back on Losses", The New York Times, 1 April 1967, pages 31 and 44
  7. ^ Nicolas Faith, The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram. St. Martin's Griffin, 2007. ISBN 978-0312332204. Retrieved 2015-04-22
  8. ^ "Seagram heiress Phyllis Lambert: An architectural visionary looks back". Alex Bozikovic, The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2013.
  9. ^ "Phyllis Lambert and the Canadian Centre for Architecture". Canadian Centre for Architecture. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Gyulai, Linda (April 2, 2010). "'Joan of architecture' to the rescue". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2 April 2010. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Montreal architecture icon Phyllis Lambert helped shape a city". Montreal Gazette. 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  12. ^ Kolber, Leo; L. Ian MacDonald (2003). Leo, a life. Montreal, Que.: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 978-0-7735-2634-1. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "Phyllis Lambert Accepts NBM's 2006 Vincent J. Scully Prize."
  14. ^ Quirk, Vanessa (May 20, 2014). "Phyllis Lambert to Receive Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at Venice Biennale". ArchDaily. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Israel's 'pre-Nobel' Wolf Prize awardees announced". The Times of Israael. 
  • Nicholas Faith, The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram (2006).
  • Kaptainis, Arthur (2007-01-25). "Lambert's landmark birthday". The Gazette. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 

External links[edit]