Come to Order: Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe

The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design is pleased to congratulate professor Brigitte Shim and her partner Howard Sutcliffe of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects on being named Members of the Order of Canada.

Established in 1967, Canada’s centennial year, the Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest honours, recognizing “a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.” Shim and Sutcliffe received the award “for their contributions as architects designing sophisticated structures that represent the best in Canadian design to the world.” The husband-wife team and are one of just over a half-dozen couples to simultaneously receive the Order of Canada in the history of its existence.

Since Shim-Sutcliffe Architects was founded in 1994, its rich and varied body of built work — which includes Toronto’s stunning Integral House — has been honoured with 12 Governor General’s Medals and Awards for Architecture. The firm’s public and private commissions include projects for sacred spaces, public parks and landscapes, and a range of institutional and residential projects.

“Howard Sutcliffe and Brigitte Shim are exceptionally talented architects whose work is deeply rooted in an understanding of space, form, and the landscape that is at once profoundly Canadian and also almost zen-like in its sophistication and subtlety,” says Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “Their work is elegant, original, and daring and above all human in scale and feel.”

Over the years, the partners have also received recognition from the American Institute of Architects and the American and Canadian Wood Council’s Awards. Both Shim and Sutcliffe are International Honorary Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and Fellows of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

“Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe are sensitive, moral, highly intelligent architects,” says Phyllis Lambert, founding director and chair of the Board of Trustees for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. “Superb designers, they work through the close integration of architecture and landscape. Their small influential buildings pay close attention to the very nature of materials — wood, brick, steel, but mostly wood — and appeal to the senses in the deployment of water and light.”

Shim and Sutcliffe, each in their own way, bring the same zeal and rigor associated with their work to other arenas in which their standing as architects has great impact, such asteaching, public service and civic advocacy. Shim has been a faculty member at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto since 1988 and has taught a broad range of architectural design studios and courses in the history and theory of architecture. Her studios and courses, similar to her professional work, often explore the intensification and revitalization of urban centres. Outside of the classroom, Shim serves as a board member for Build Toronto, Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Committee, and the University of Toronto’s Design Review Committee.

Both born in 1958 — Shim in Kingston, Jamaica; Sutcliffe in Yorkshire, England — the renowned architects were educated at the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (1981) and School of Architecture (1983). Sutcliffe was the first recipient of the Ronald J. Thom Award from the Canada Council for Early Design Achievement and has worked with Ronald Thom, Barton Myers, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, and Paul Merrick. Before co-founding Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, Shim worked for Arthur Erickson in Vancouver and Baird/Sampson Architects in Toronto.

“The Order of Canada is a an extremely important recognition of Brigitte and Howard’s two- fold achievement: first, they are architects who conceive and execute uniquely beautiful work, and second, they are individuals who leverage their creative accomplishments to act on behalf of the greater good of the built environment” says Richard Sommer, dean and professor of Urbanism at the Daniels Faculty. “Anyone who has had the privilege of seeing and spending time in one of Shim-Sutcliffe’s buildings, can attest to how high they elevate the art, and craft of contemporary architecture. While their work is rooted in the architectural culture of Toronto and Canada, their many influences — including the romantic classicism Scandinavian Modern Architecture, and the sensate, temporality of Japanese architecture and landscape — are international in scope. Not surprisingly, their work is having a global impact, and they are being sought to design projects, and to speak, in many far-flung places. I couldn’t be happier for them on this occasion, or more proud to have them be associated with our faculty.”