“A dozen of your finest” – presenting the recipients of the 2014 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture

The Canada Council for the Arts and RAIC | Architecture Canada have announced the recipients of the 2014 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture. The awards celebrate outstanding design in recently completed projects by Canadian architects. The winning buildings reflect excellence in sustainable design, innovation and compatibility with the landscape.


60 Richmond East Housing Co-Operative; Teeple Architects Inc. (Toronto, ON); Lead design architect: Stephen Teeple, FRAIC

Located in downtown Toronto, this LEED Gold housing co-operative provides an alternative to the ubiquitous local glass towers. Terraces are carved out of the building’s solid mass to create social spaces and gardens on various levels. The project houses relocated hospitality workers from Regent Park, a deteriorating social-housing community undergoing redevelopment. The residents operate a restaurant and training kitchen on the ground floor and a community garden on the sixth-floor terrace. The garden provides food for the restaurant and uses organic waste generated by the kitchens as compost. This creates a self-sustaining condition called “urban permaculture.”

Centennial College Athletic and Wellness Centre; Kongats Architects (Toronto, ON); Lead design architect: Alar Kongats, MRAIC

The Centennial College Athletic and Wellness Centre redevelops an existing gymnasium facility to create a central athletic centre for Centennial College. The new centre accommodates multiple programs – both athletic and academic. It also provides a venue for the college’s annual convocation ceremonies and student association concerts and events. Added to the project scope was the re-design of the interstitial campus grounds to create the Centennial College Alumni Courtyard. The courtyard provides the college community with durable and accessible connections between the campus buildings and useful places for gathering and reflection.

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Campus; KPMB Architects (Waterloo, ON); Lead design architect:
Shirley Blumberg, FRAIC

The CIGI campus transforms the historic Seagram distillery, the only site in Canada surrounded by three Governor-General-Award-winning projects, into a think tank on international governance. The design presents a contemporary interpretation of the academic quad with three interconnected buildings organized around a courtyard. A two-storey glass pavilion with an entrance canopy and bell tower marks the main public entrance and contains the auditorium. The massing and expression were designed to relate to the heritage context of the area’s 19th-century industrial fabric. A key element in Waterloo’s revitalization vision, the project demonstrates the benefit of architecture.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development, University of British Columbia; Saucier + Perrotte Architectes / Hughes Condon Marler Architects (Vancouver, BC); Lead design architect: Gilles Saucier, FIRAC

The design of the state-of-the-art Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development focuses on enjoyable, livable and sustainable spaces for research and learning. The architecture has a striking presence on campus, functioning as a gateway to the academic core.

Serving as an allegory for the development of modern medicine, the design concept relates to two trees whose foliage becomes fused into an extensive network of branches. To successfully contribute to UBC’s legacy of architecture and pharmaceutical research, the project develops a sustainable, signature design so as to provide a benchmark for education and research buildings.

Joseph L. Rotman School of Management Expansion, University of Toronto; KPMB Architects (Toronto, ON); Lead design architects: Bruce Kuwabara, FRAIC, Marianne McKenna, FRAIC

The vertical, interconnected campus is an expression of Rotman’s core mission to promote the power of creativity and integrative thinking. The design fuses ideas of campus and city-building, study and interaction, sustainable design, creativity and business strategy. Conceived through the lens of Rotman’s Integrative Thinking program, the design encapsulates the power of architecture to harmonize seemingly opposite notions and objectives at every scale of design. The expansion creates a vibrant global hub in which to advance its curriculum. It reinforces the necessity of architectural excellence to inspire growth in education to ensure Canada remains competitive in the global marketplace.

Conversion of Mies van der Rohe gas station; Les architectes FABG (Montreal, QC); Lead design architect: Éric Gauthier, FIRAC

The Mies van der Rohe gas station on Nuns’ Island ceased commercial operation in 2008. The City of Montreal listed it as a heritage building in 2009 before initiating the project of a youth and senior activity centre. This simple program requires an open space for each group to congregate and participate in communal activities.

The project is not about the faithful restoration of a monument. It is an interpretation. It tries to communicate the essence of an artistic vision, formulated by someone else in response to a world that is no longer the same. Musicians do this every day.

North Vancouver City Hall; MGA | Michael Green Architecture (Formerly: mcfarlane | green | biggar ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN inc.) (North Vancouver, BC); Lead design architect: Michael Green, FRAIC

The North Vancouver City Hall project revitalizes an existing modern-heritage municipal building with a significant addition of public space, staff offices and meeting rooms. The project features an innovative mass-timber structure within a 220-foot long atrium. The structure knits together the existing building with an adjacent vacated library. The project upgrades structural and environmental performance. Careful attention was given to public and staff amenities and the flow of public space from inside to out. The design illustrates a successful restoration through the use of structural wood. A clear spatial design results in elegant public architecture.  

OMS Stage; 5468796 Architecture Inc. (Winnipeg, MB); Lead design architects: Johanna Hurme, MRAIC, Sasa Radulovic, MRAIC

OMS Stage (“The Cube”) is an open-air performance venue in Old Market Square, a green space and summer festival hub in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District. A concrete structure enclosed by a flexible metal skin, the stage is a year-round public amenity. The membrane is composed of 20,000 identical hollow aluminum pieces strung together on aircraft cables. The orientation of the pieces alternates, forming a malleable and shimmering curtain that can stand like a wall, pull in to reveal the performance space, or function as a light-refracting surface. It is a projection screen, concert venue, shelter and sculptural object.

Raymond-Lévesque public library; Atelier TAG and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes in consortium
(Saint-Hubert, QC); Lead design architects: Manon Asselin, Katsuhiro Yamazaki

As an interface between nature and culture, the new Saint-Hubert library celebrates the exceptional poetic force of its location: the library metamorphoses the forest and materializes the presence of the wind. Beyond the architectural allegory, its geometry speaks of the renewable resources of the earth, the wind, the sun and the rain. From west to east its roof scape is shaped by the prevailing winds. The giant cut at its center collects the rainwater in a retention basin while the wood blades of its filigree envelope fi
lter the sunlight. The resulting inner courtyard forms the geographic, social, and perceptual heart of the library. The fluidity of the interior spaces around an exterior common space facilitates serendipitous encounters and catalyzes human relations, fulfilling the role of the public library in the 21st century as meeting place for its community.

Residence for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto; Shim-Sutcliffe Architects Inc. (Toronto, ON); Lead design architects:
Brigitte Shim, FRAIC, Howard Sutcliffe, FRAIC

he new home for the Sisters of St Joseph forms a sinuous line between the Don Valley to the north and the low-rise urban fabric of the city to the south. The building articulates both individual contemplative life and the community engagement of the sisters’ ministries. It makes relationships to nature and the city to reinforce public and private aspects. These dualities are expressed both in the exterior of the building and its interior spaces.

The Bloor Gladstone Library; RDH Architects Inc./ Shoalts and Zaback Architects Ltd. (Toronto, ON); Lead design architect: Tyler Sharp, MRAIC

The Bloor Gladstone Library project is a renovation and addition to a listed heritage library in downtown Toronto. The architects were commissioned to design for an additional 12,000 square feet, bringing the facilities to a standard consistent with a district library. This project transforms a dilapidated and dysfunctional heritage library into a functioning, interactive, contemporary institution. The quality of finish, detail and design resolution elevates the community library to a level commensurate with other significant cultural institutions. This enhancement illustrates the fundamental importance of access to information in the world’s largest library system, the Toronto Public Library.

Tula House; Patkau Architects Inc. (Quadra Island, BC); Lead design architects: John Patkau, FRAIC, Patricia Patkau, FRAIC

Tula House sits on a remote island, at the edge of a cliff, 13 metres above the Pacific Ocean. The house is both primary residence for the clients and headquarters for their private foundation.

The spatial order of the house reflects the casual irregularity of the site’s rock mounds, ocean edges and forest. Exterior walls are clad in black fibre-cement panels, visually receding into forest. A green roof consists of indigenous plants. A steel-framed, wooden deck cantilevers at cliff-edge. An expanse of glass captures the view while glazed apertures in the deck open vertiginously to the ocean below.