Kathleen Kurtin Named OAA President for 2019

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) has elected Kathleen Kurtin, OAA, MRAIC, to serve as OAA President for a one-year term.

“I wanted to give back to the profession,” she says. “Architecture has provided me with an exciting and rewarding career—I feel that it is important to ensure the next generation has those same opportunities.”

Kurtin registered with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) in the early 1980s, launching her independent practice, Kathleen Kurtin Architect. Over the next decade, the firm distinguished itself as a mid-sized architectural practice specializing in renovation within Toronto’s downtown core. With projects ranging from very small to upward of 500,000 square feet, her work included various building and client types, including retail, industrial, commercial, institutional and residential. The firm had a reputation for innovative and cost-effective solutions, and provided the foundation for the City of Toronto’s Live/Work guidelines.

In the mid-1990s, Kurtin joined Scotiabank as its Chief Architect and Director of Design, leading a group of in-house and external architects and designers in the design and development of the bank’s real estate portfolio, both domestic and international. On retiring from Scotiabank in 2014, she re-established her independent practice.

Having participated on the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) executive in the 1990s, Kurtin went on to become a member of OAA Council in 2013, and has taken on increasing responsibilities ever since. She became president in January 2019, with previous roles including Senior Vice President and Treasurer as well as VP Regulatory and VP Practice. Kurtin has chaired the Association’s Audit, Practice and Interns Committees and participated in the Policy Advocacy Coordination Team (PACT) and Building and Education Committees. She was instrumental in establishing the Safe Work Places Committee, which has sought ways to make the practice of architecture for women more equitable.

“As a woman and single mother, I am aware of the importance of inclusivity and accessibility to the profession for all. I will continue to work toward ensuring that the transition from student to intern to architect to leader within the profession is understandable and achievable for the best candidates, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” Kurtin says. “I also want to ensure that we continue to attract the best minds into this complex and rewarding field. To do this, we need to ensure widespread understanding of what an architect does and is responsible for, and that there is fair compensation for the work.”