First annual American Architecture Prize announces ten Canadian winners

The winners of the first annual American Architecture Prize have been chosen, including ten Canadian winners.

The AAP jury has selected exceptional designs in over 40 categories across the disciplines of architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture. Each design was evaluated on its own merit based on characteristics of form, function, and innovation.

The Canadian winners include:


Photo: Calgary Municipal Land Corporation + 5468796 Architecture
Photo: Calgary Municipal Land Corporation + 5468796 Architecture
Company: 5468796 Architecture
Lead Designer: 5468796 Architecture
Category: Architectural Design / Agricultural Buildings / Platinum

In 2014, 5468796 was engaged by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation to design a garden shed as part of a larger park development in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of East Village, a 49 acre parcel located on the banks of the Bow River between Fort Calgary and the downtown business centre.

The project’s intended function was to house the gardening tools and supplies necessary for community members to tend the nearly 100 raised planter beds provided in the park. By redefining the project brief and aspiring to provide value beyond the original mandate, 5468796 expanded the ‘shed’ into a pavilion with civic presence within the budget of $100,000, including both soft and hard costs.

The reallocation of resources included the use of recycled shipping containers as the underlying structure of the pavilion, allowing a custom fabricated trellis and cladding system to be included in the project scope. Utilizing the containers as structure also facilitated material delivery to the site, and its pre-engineered structure helped reduce foundation costs. The re-imagined shed now lends itself to further programming, and in addition to various storage spaces, includes areas for work, shelter and relaxation for the community.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Lemay
Lead Designer: Eric Pelletier, architect, conceptual director
Design Team: Claude Jean, architect, project manager Jean Marcil, architect, managing director Pierre Labonté, architect Amélie Turgeon, architect Annie Martineau, architect Denis Clermont, architect Bao Nguyen, landscape architect
Category: Architectural Design / Cultural Architecture AND Institutional Architecture  / Bronze AND Platinum

Envisioned as a 21st-century library, the Bibliothèque du Boisé, located in Montréal, Canada, is a cutting-edge cultural, technological and creative hub. Integrating numerous functions, the library embraces revolutionary changes in information management and pedagogical technologies.

The idea behind the library’s design was to create new connections and experiences that would reinforce its value to the community and contribute to the creation of a new and attractive centre for cultural activities. With its open spaces, the library fosters discussion, exchanges and generates a sense of belonging and community. Implemented between an urban and natural setting, this library establishes a relationship between these two entities and creates an exceptional landmark for the citizens of Saint-Laurent borough. As a true cultural crossroads, this Platinum LEED certified building aims to attract a complex and rich pool of users. This particular library has become a physical, intellectual and technological environment that represents the very best of what modern libraries can be and do. With its book stacks, multi- media collections, computer work stations, meeting and training rooms, teen and youth areas, cafe, exhibition gallery and archival storage, the building has a variety of beautifully lit and welcoming spaces, in keeping with the new role that libraries play as community living rooms.

Inside, vibrant colours are used to provide graphical landmarks and facilitate locating and identifying with one’s respective age group. Illuminated coloured niches mark the entry to each section of the library. The furniture is tinted with the colour associated with each given section, sporadically adding a playful aspect to the space. Since its inauguration, the library has won several international awards and has recorded amazing attendance with four times more visitors per day. Project completed in consortium: Cardinal Hardy* / Labonté Marcil / Éric Pelletier* (*Lemay) en consortium.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes
Design Team: Architect and Project Manager: Anik Shooner Architect and Assistant Project Manager: Julie Morin Architectural Designer : Jean-Pierre LeTourneux Assistant Architectural Designer : Marc-Antoine Chartier-Primeau Project Team : Anne Lafontaine, Alexandre Cassiani, Gaspard Marier, Marc-Antoine Grondin, Véronique Hébert, Claudio Nunez, Nicolas Maalouf, Cuong Tran, Claude Labbé
Category: Architectural Design / Educational Buildings / Bronze

Inspired by an icehouse that once stood on the site, the crystal-like volume is remarkably light, open and airy. The mixed-use program was unified into a singular sculpted volume, its offsets interacting in a refreshing way with the more sober and introverted campus buildings. The massing was carved out on its south and east sides to create space for a future park that extends inside the building’s public program, maximizing sunlight and offering the community an abundantly glazed atrium that showcases student life within. On the street side, it offers mediated views on the upper functions through an intriguing five-storey high image digitally imprinted onto the glass curtain wall.

An abstract representation of the energetic network of ideas on the campus, it evokes the innovative spirit and outreach to the world, which ÉTS intends to project. Inside, the atrium is conceived as an interior landscape in continuity with the exterior park. An impressive cantilevered truss, recalling the railway bridges and industrial structures in the area, lifts its grand staircase above the outdoor space on its south side, offering glimpses of Montreal’s cityscape from the park. A spiraling promenade weaves through the atrium under a warm, hovering topography made of birch wood slats. Custom furniture such as integrated cushioned nooks, and carefully selected seating typologies punctuate the open space with a wide array of spatial experiences for relaxing, studying and socializing.

The promenade visually and physically ties the campus together, starting with a tunnel link from the adjacent pavilion to the east to reach the student residences through a planned bridge to the west. It constitutes an indoor, year-round park offering an open and central congregating space for large events and exhibitions to both the ÉTS and Griffintown communities. The project aims for LEED CS Silver Certification.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: KPMB Architects
Lead Designer: KPMB Architects
Design Team: Shirley Blumberg (partner-in-charge), Steven Casey (project architect), Bruce Kuwabara, Joy Charbonneau, Glenn MacMullin, George Bizios, Erik Jensen, Vivian Chin, Ramon Janer, Carolyn Lee, Danielle Sucher
Category: Architectural Design / Educational Buildings / Bronze

The CIGI Campus, a non-partisan think tank, is housed on the site of the former Seagram Distillery in the City of Waterloo. The Seagram Distillery was the economic force of Waterloo from 1857 to 1992. Following its closure it was rezoned for commercial development. With the proposal to convert the site into the CIGI Campus, the City of Waterloo agreed to rezone the site for institutional use. The client’s vision for a ‘vibrant sanctuary’ and a design that is ‘functional but not fancy” led to a contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional academic quad building based on the Oxford model.

The plan organizes two three-storey interconnected bar buildings and the auditorium pavilion around a landscaped courtyard. The ground floor is continuous and highly public. Solid masonry elevations facing the street are contrasted with three-storey glazed elevations facing the courtyard. The scale, proportions and materials are calibrated to simultaneously respond to the historic context of masonry industrial buildings that characterize the region uptown Waterloo neighbourhood and to create a symbolic identity for CIGI. Despite the efficiency of digital communication, action and innovation still requires face-to-face meetings meet in real time and space.

The design strategically organizes the program of classroom, auditorium, offices off a spacious, continuous corridor/cloister furnished with seating and fireplaces to invite people to cross paths and share ideas and viewpoints. It also recognizes the necessity of private space for thinking through solutions with a series of private offices. The floor-to-ceiling glazed ‘cloister’ facing the courtyard also promotes visibility between departments and groups and reinforces the patron’s idea that ‘a school is like a large family – there should be no place to hide.’


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Hemsworth Architecture
Lead Designer: John Hemsworth
Category: Architectural Design / Industrial Buildings / Bronze

BC Passive House Factory is an ‘all wood construction’ demonstration project. The client, BC Passive House (BCPH), mandated that the design and construction of their new facility must exemplify their investment in wood construction, prefabrication, energy efficiency, and sustainable design practice. The new 1500sm facility is used for the manufacturing of prefabricated ‘Passive House’ panels and was conceived as a simple, light filled, wooden box. 360-degree clerestory windows provide natural daylight and views to the surrounding mountains. The effect of the daylighting and exposed wood finishes within the workspace is a warm, comfortable, and inviting space to work in.

The main inspiration for the design came from the belief that the industrial, everyday buildings that make up a vast amount of our built environment can be just as important, and well considered, as our ‘public’ buildings. The main structure of the building is Douglas Fir glulam post and beam, with solid wood cross laminated timber panel walls, all manufactured in British Columba. The roof assembly consists of prefabricated ‘2×12’ panels that assisted the erection of the glulam structure by offering permanent bracing for the columns and beams during assembly.

Using this prefabricated format, the building’s super structure went up in just 8 days. The exterior of the building was finished with untreated fir and larch ‘2×4’, pre-assembled, wood ‘screens’. The ‘screen’ design also incorporated a varied density, or openness of the slats over the clerestories to provide greater solar shading on the south and west facades, while maintaining the stunning views to the surrounding mountains. The office and meeting spaces were designed to meet the rigorous Passive House Standard. The facility is the first of its kind in North America and will assist the company in its promotion of the Passive House Standard and sustainable, energy efficient, wood based construction.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Smith Vigeant Architects Inc
Lead Designer: Daniel Smith, principal architect
Design Team: Daniel Smith, Karine Renaud, Anik Malderis, Étienne Penault, Cindy Neveu, Mélanie Quesnel, Stéphan Vigeant
Category: Architectural Design / Misc. Architecture / Silver

ALLEZ-UP rock climbing gym Located in Montreal’s Southwest Borough Lachine Canal, Allez Up rock-climbing gym’s is at the heart of an urban revitalization movement. The abandoned industrial sector left an unusual landscape of industrial structures. Among them, four silos erected in 1952 for the Redpath Sugar refinery. For nearly 40 years, the silos and surrounding site were entirely abandoned. The client envisioned the potential of this site for a rock-climbing gym, due to its location and the 45-metre-tall concrete silos.

The abandoned silos were repurposed and transformed into a sports facility, resulting in the first adaptive reuse intervention of its kind in Canada. Moreover, Allez Up has significantly added a variety to the recreation and tourist attractions on the Canal. The silos are an integral part of the climbing experience, acting as a hub for the main access and circulation, and for setting climbing routes. Their industrial character was preserved and showcased to remind visitors of their previous use. The extension was shaped by the dynamics the interior climbing wall concept. Vertical plane composition structuring the climbing hall provides the maximum verticality height for climbers.

These surfaces are covered with ever-ascending silhouettes reaching for the top. Inclined, vertical or overhanging, the angular white planes are reminiscent of crystallized sugar, alluding to their former past. The main facade reads as three solid masses sliced open by oblique slits. These glass fissures run full height, saturating the space with natural light. At nighttime, the openings frames and displays the activities happening within. The angularity of the façade provides an interesting dialogue with the silos and its new metallic exterior responds well to the industrial characteristics of the neighbourhood. Sustainability is an important part of Allez Up’s design considerations and insured: soil decontamination; natural lighting; excellent air quality; reuse and maximum durability of materials and universally accessible.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Saucier+Perrottes architectes/HCMA
Lead Designer: Gilles Saucier
Design Team: Gilles Saucier(Lead Design Architect), André Perrotte (Principal-in-Charge), Darryl Condon, Trevor Davies, Michael Henderson, Lia Ruccolo, Patrice Bégin, Charles-Alexandre Dubois, Leslie Lok, David Moreaux, Yutaro Minagawa, Vedanta Balbahadur, Marc-André Tratch, Nick Worth
Category: Architectural Design / Recreational Architecture / Silver

St-Michel Environmental Complex’s site has been marked by change. Since its beginning as a mining center, then as a dumping site, human intervention has taken a severe toll on the land’s topography. It is now destined to become one of Montreal’s biggest parks with a focus on ecological restoration. On the site of the former Miron quarry, the new indoor soccer stadium emerges from the park’s artificial topography as a layer of mineral stratum recalling the geological nature of the site. The stratum is articulated by a continuous roof which cantilevers over the entry plaza, folds down over the interior field and extends to the ground to become the spectator seating for the outdoor field.

To ensure the formal unity of the project, the design has been developed as a single expansive gesture of cross-laminated timber. The grid forms a seemingly arbitrary layered mesh, which becomes denser in zones where additional structural strength is needed. The roof’s behavior reacts to the requirements of the program and enables the interior soccer center to become the exterior open-sky stadium. Along Papineau Avenue, the architecture adapts to the existing landscape by embedding its supporting functions within the berm.

This integration accommodates an elevated pedestrian path and preserves the existing trees. A series of crystals emerge from the augmented landscape to provide daylight and views for administrative and public spaces behind. A large crystal box emerges from the terrain’s southeast end, signalling the entrance of the soccer centre. The programmatic elements are organized efficiently by taking advantage of the linearity of the site, as well as considering the program associations and usages of players, spectators and park visitors. Despite the broad scope of the project’s program, the luminous boxes and the preserved vegetation give the architecture a human scale that respects the residential neighbourhood it faces.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Partisans
Lead Designer: PARTISANS
Category: Interior Design / Hospitality / Gold

Carefully hewn from what look like unbroken Mobius strips of sinuous mahogany, Bar Raval is a 21st-century reinterpretation of Spanish Art Nouveau that introduces Toronto to the pintxo bar, a cornerstone of social and gastronomic culture in Basque Country. The client charged us with executing an ambitious task: “create an art piece” that would become an enduring culinary and civic institution. We interpreted the directive through two aesthetic lenses: Spanish design and the physicality of the three owners who became our muses. Thus, Raval’s sculptural sentience pays direct homage to tattooed musculature in the context of Art Nouveau tropes and craftsmanship reimagined for contemporary Toronto.

The fluid smoothness of the final product belies the rigorous R&D required to achieve the vision. The biggest challenge was identifying a fabrication technique that would not only permit the development of intricate 3D geometries, but also allow for a layer of rich detail to emerge from the fabrication process itself, revealing those inherently textured qualities of wood that are akin to muscle tissue. We synchronized efforts with fabricators and software engineers to rewrite 19 software patches that would enable the customization of toolpaths to execute sculptural engravings on complex 3D surfaces.

The result: 9km of serpentine engravings on 75 panels of seamlessly aligned wood. We were also challenged to reimagine the functional aspects of the classic bar as a stage for performance and interaction. Each workstation and vantage point was optimized for efficiency, and every back-of-bar detail was personalized, down to the custom-made drip trays and brass beer pulls, which we enlisted the owners to mould in clay with their hands. Bar Raval’s soft curves foster intimacy, fluidity, and community. A series of 3D “tattooed limbs” enfold patrons in a warm mahogany embrace, and their rippling surfaces encourage patrons to lean into and become part of the woodwork.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Acdf Architecture
Lead Designer: Maxime-Alexis Frappier
Design Team: Martin Champagne, Joan Renaud, Mathieu Tremblay, Olivia Daigneault
Category: Interior Design / Houses Interior / Silver

The “Blanche” Chalet, whose name evokes the spirit of the vernacular houses of the region, is situated in La Malbaie’s area of the “Terrasses Cap à l’Aigle”. Its simple and pure architecture gently complements the landscape of Charlevoix in a modern fashion. The raw concrete materiality of the lower level is a nod to the stone foundations of the old wooden barns that once swept the landscape. Perched on the podium, the upper two levels are clad in a white stained wood, which is reminiscent of lime plaster that was applied to the ancestral homes of the area.

The wood is smooth or raw textured and, at times, creates an openwork siding, depending on the façade, bringing lightness and joy to the house. The four bedrooms of the “Blanche” Chalet are centrally located in order to maximize the panoramic views of the living spaces that are at the top level. The kitchen and dining room are characterized by large 360- degree fenestration, while the living space is housed in a floating overhang whose unique form is reminiscent of the structure of vernacular bridges. This raised volume allows for a direct experience of the enchanting sunsets of Cap à l’Aigle and the shimmering reflections of the estuary of the St. Lawrence within the comforts of the home.

The social nature of the house, its openness to family, friendly, and sometimes professional exchanges are favoured by its composition that sensitively juxtaposes the spaces of common life and the private life (bedrooms). The abundant use of fenestration underlines a constant connection between the interior and nature, including the lake and the forest. The use of natural materials, such as stone, wood, and steel in pure and unique forms links the building to the context and invites contemplation.


Photo courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of AAP
Company: Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture
Lead Designer: Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture with Landscape Architects of Record Moriyama and Teshima Planners
Design Team: Landscape Architects of Record Moriyama and Teshima Planners
Category: Landscape Architecture / Gardens AND Public / Silver AND Bronze

The Aga Khan Park lies on the outskirts of Toronto’s city centre in a dense setting surrounded by high traffic streets and highways. It occupies a 17- acre site where two institutional buildings are housed: the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. The Park’s aspiration was not only to embrace and unify these two buildings, but also to offer a serene and contemplative space. Moreover, the project had to create an inviting environment in which educational, social, and community activities initiated by the Museum and Ismaili Centre could be held in warm weather. A formal garden inspired by traditional Islamic gardens around the world functions as the central feature of the entire Park.

Surrounded by a densely planted buffer zone and conceived as the outdoor extension of the Museum and Ismaili Centre, the formal garden captures the essence of Islamic gardens, translating them into an expression that reflects its context – both geographical and temporal. Embracing the five senses, every space within the formal garden is imbued with the delicate sensations that we seem to have lost in this fast-paced era.

The ephemeral and the eternal are both essential to the composition of spaces. Shadows, light, petals, leaves and water in motion are complemented by the solidity and purity of created forms. Amongst the five water islands in solid raised black granite channels, emerges an orchard of native Serviceberry trees, a contemporary boustan. With its white spring blossoms, edible summer fruit, autumn colour and stark presence in the winter snow, the orchard infuses the space with seasonal perfumes. The Park integrates two unique buildings into a coherent whole that not only brings unity to the complex, but also becomes a gift to the city of Toronto and its people.

To view the full list of winners, please click here.

Please note that the American Architecture Prizes are a separate program from the American Architecture Awards. The American Architecture Awards are run by the Chicago Athenaeum. More information about the American Architecture Awards, including information regarding submitting for this year’s awards program, can be found at: