Shining like a Diamond

Jack Diamond, the founding principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects, is to receive a Lifetime Design Achievement Award from the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) at a gala celebration in Toronto tonight.

The honour recognizes a career-long commitment to the promotion and achievement of architectural design excellence. It comes just days after Diamond Schmitt opened its latest work – the Mariiinsky II opera house in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“There is no higher praise than being recognized by one’s peers,” says Diamond, who has practised architecture since 1968 and who is known for his interpretation of site and context across a wide range of award-winning building types. 

The portfolio of the firm includes projects throughout Canada and around the world, among them the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, and the Harman Centre for the Arts in Washington, D.C.  

Diamond emigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1964 to become the founding director of the Master of Architecture program at the University of Toronto after post-graduate studies at Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania. A fellow and Gold Medalist of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canadian Institute of Planners and an honourary fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Diamond is also an officer of the Order of Canada. 

A career highlight was the formation in 1975 of what is now Diamond Schmitt Architects, which today has 17 principals who oversee projects, develop business and manage the company’s day-to-day operations. “In this office, we have the most amazing bench strength; people are just amazingly good,” says Diamond. “I have always believed that all of us together are better than each of us alone.” 


The OAA gala also recognizes the winners of the 2013 OAA Awards for the best in architectural design and innovation. Diamond Schmitt Architects won for two projects under the direction of principal-in-charge Donald Schmitt and chosen by a jury made up of the design community that evaluated the buildings based on five central criteria: creativity, context, sustainability, good design/good business and legacy.
The Ryerson Image Centre/School of Image Arts in Toronto combines a gallery for lens-based art as well as an international centre for photographic research. A lighting feature wraps around the building that presents programmed displays and app-based interaction for the public. This gateway building transformed a key campus intersection into a lively and engaging crossroads.
The Centre for Green Cities at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works is a LEED Platinum candidate facility built on the existing footprint of an industrial structure at a former downtown brick-making facility. Preserving many elements from its past, the new facility provides a welcome centre, retail and amenity space, administrative offices and program space for the non-profit Evergreen’s mandate to educate and inform the public on sustainable urban initiatives.

To learn more about Diamond Schmitt Architects, visit