The Poetics of Deconstruction: Unbuilding the Peterborough General Electric Plant (McGee 2020)

Author: Ian Brendan McGee

Thesis Advisor: Catherine Bonier

Date: 2020

Master of Architecture

Carleton University



This thesis proposes a thoughtful, phased deconstruction of the former General Electric plant in Peterborough, Ontario, with public appropriation invited at each interval. This slow demolition process is a scraping away of layers of history; it is a poetic procedure that generates moments of beauty, while avoiding the tendency that immediate demolition might have to reinforce the harmful legacy of the plant. This process of deconstruction is treated as a theatre production, culminating in moments of dramatic spectacle. These theatrical processes and emergent spectacles may be observed by the public from platforms constructed of repurposed debris. While this project clears the General Electric site, it also documents the demolition as it occurs, preserving moments through a series of artistic interpretations and artifacts. This thesis explores the productive potential of demolition as a choreographed act in the lifecycle of the building and a poetic moment in the life of the site.

Image from Page 65, Fig. 53 (Demolition Scene)