Society is facing an increasing number of challenges in the 21st century. Human-induced climate change is causing extreme weather events with more frequency, threatening natural ecosystems and human settlements. Conventional fossil fuels are being depleted and irresponsible resource extraction is causing catastrophic damage. Rapid urbanization is introducing new social and health challenges for people, while our deteriorating urban infrastructure is in need of urgent renewal. Architecture and related design professions must rise to these challenges through resilient and sustainable design. Yet, design solutions are not enough. The design professions must also work with partners to cultivate collaborative research and the political and public will necessary to implement strategies that enable collective prosperity.

Environmental Stewardship

Architecture affects the environmental health of the planet. The operational energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings accounts for a significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions; the potable water circulating through every inhabitable space is a limited resource; waste from new construction, renovation and demolition accounts for a significant proportion of materials disposed in landfill sites; new construction materials are increasingly made with synthetic ingredients potentially injurious to human health and ecosystems. Canada has the potential to lead the world on key sustainability targets and to advance research on environmentally responsible building materials, techniques and systems. 

Hope Blooms Community Greenhouse

George Cotaras & Matthew Jarsky, FBM Architecture- Interior Design

Andi Lo

Sustainable Urbanism

Urban sprawl in its current form is not sustainable. Twenty-first century cities must not simply become larger, but rather develop sustainable planning and design strategies to accommodate appropriate density and diversity while enhancing quality of life. Sustainable cities require optimized infrastructure, transit systems and water supply, as well as pedestrian-oriented developments and affordable housing with access to transit, public space, civic institutions, schools, and social services. A holistic approach to urban development, with environmental and social goals, is necessary and urgent.

Piqqusilirivvik: Inuit Cultural Learning Centre

Stantec Architecture Ltd.

Dave Brosha

Economic Development

Architecture can act as a catalyst for economic prosperity. Investing in building design and city planning generates jobs in diverse sectors. Effective environments can have reverberating economic benefits for energy production, healthcare, housing and public safety. Strategic investments can stimulate private enterprise, job growth and community prosperity. Demonstration projects can prove the positive effects of sustainable technologies, revitalize neighborhoods, promote tourism, and inspire further research and innovation. An Architecture Policy for Canada will encourage and drive investment in long-term value, incentivize responsible development and raise awareness of design economics and lifecycle costing.

Bridgepoint Active Healthcare

Stantec Architecture Ltd., KPMB Architects, HDR, Diamond Schmitt Architects

Christie Mills Photography


Architecture persists for generations. Designers must consider resiliency of new buildings over time and promote creative adaptation of old structures to new uses. Demolition and rebuilding is costly, as well as environmentally and socially irresponsible. Encouraging adaptive reuse requires changing not only building practices, but also attitudes, showing the complementarity of new and old, and innovation and tradition.

Galerie D'Art Beaverbrook Art Gallery Expansion

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited

James Brittain