RAIC names 2015 honourary fellows: Zita Cobb and Vassilis Sgoutas

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has selected a Canadian social entrepreneur and a Greek architect, both employing design for social change, to receive its 2015 honourary fellowships.

Zita Cobb grew up on Fogo Island, a remote fishing community off the coast of Newfoundland. After a successful high-tech career, she returned and founded Shorefast Foundation. The registered charity uses architecture, art, design, craft and food to invigorate the island’s economy and culture. Major projects include the world-class Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island Arts, an international artists’ residency program, and Fogo Island Shop, which produces hand-crafted furniture and textiles.

“I deeply believe that architecture has the potential to add greatly to the quality and fabric of life; beyond function and ecological responsibility, to add meaning and joy,” says Cobb. “And now, more than ever before, we need architecture to live up to its potential.”

Vassilis Sgoutas is an architect in Athens, Greece. During his tenure as president of the International Union of Architects (UIA), the UIA focussed on poverty in the developing world, environmental sustainability, and barrier-free design for people with disabilities. In his honour, the UIA created the Vassilis Sgoutas Prize, which recognizes architects who contribute to the improvement of living conditions in poverty-stricken areas.

“What makes this honour special for me is that it could be conducive to opening channels for an increasing presence of Canadian architects on the international architectural scene,” says Sgoutas. “This will unfailingly lead to greater exposure to the richness and diversity of Canadian architecture.”

Honourary fellowship recognizes extraordinary achievement. Cobb and Sgoutas will be inducted into the RAIC College of Fellows during this year’s RAIC’s Festival of Architecture in Calgary, June 3-6.

Each recipient fulfills the spirit of the 2015 Festival theme of “Re-generation and Integration,” says Barry Johns, chancellor of the RAIC College of Fellows. They demonstrate exceptional commitment “to a truly humanized and sustainable architecture.”

About Cobb, Johns says, “Zita Cobb’s patronage of a new and respectful architectural culture and her connecting local craftsmen with international designers has transformed the local economy. Here, new architecture supports, rather than threatens traditions that are disappearing as our society becomes increasingly urbanized.”

About Sgoutas, Johns says, “Vassilis Sgoutas exemplifies the profession’s responsibilities for an improved social and cultural sustainability through the built environment. He is concerned with the lives of the disabled and poor while illustrating through his work a concern for the fragility of the planet.”


The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is a voluntary national association, representing 4,800 members. The RAIC advocates for excellence in the built environment, works to demonstrate how design enhances the quality of life and promotes responsible architecture in addressing important issues of society.

For more information, visit www.raic.org