The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)  hosted its biennial Celebration of Excellence on Thursday, May 23, at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre. Part of the OAA Conference, Housing: Pushing the Envelope, the event celebrated the best in projects by Ontario architecture practices.

In addition to previously announced awards, three new winners were revealed.

DIALOG Ontario Inc. received the People’s Choice Award for the Centennial College A-Building Expansion in Toronto, which was selected by members of the public as their favourite among the Design Excellence winners during a two-week online voting period. This expansion seamlessly integrates Indigenous teachings with sustainability, making it the first LEED Gold, zero-carbon, WELL-certified mass timber facility in Canada. It emphasizes “Two-Eyed Seeing” and sets new standards for academic environments.

The Michael V. and Wanda Plachta Award was presented to MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) in association with Raimondo + Associates Architects Inc. for the Neil Campbell Rowing Centre in St. Catharines. This accolade celebrates architectural excellence in Ontario projects costing no more than $8 million. Nestled on Henley Island, the building serves as a year-round athletics hub, blending innovative “glass house” design with zero-carbon emissions and net-zero energy standards.

MJMA was also honoured with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Design Excellence in Architecture for the Churchill Meadows Community Centre and Sports Park in Mississauga. This 50-acre project was transformed into a vibrant parkland with a 74,000 sq ft community centre featuring mass timber, and serves as a hub for leisure, recreation, and community engagement. This biennial award recognizes the best completed project constructed in Ontario within the past six years.

Earlier in the day, additional OAA Award winners were celebrated at a special Recognition Lunch. Architect Deborah Wang, curator and artistic director of the DesignTO Festival, received the Medal of Service for her significant contributions to the profession and the public through promotion, advocacy, and education. Ottawa architect Barry J. Hobin, meanwhile, was awarded the Lifetime Design Achievement for his half-century commitment to design excellence, workplace equity, creative collaboration, and social responsibility.

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In addition, A.J. Diamond, Raymond Moriyama, and Adrienne Tam were posthumously added to the Honour Roll, recognizing prominent deceased members of the architectural profession. Toronto’s Lanescape Architecture Inc., which converts underutilized spaces into urban laneway housing, was also honoured as the Best Emerging Practice—an award for a nascent firm that demonstrates a clear vision, well-articulated goals, proven effective strategies, and thoughtful consideration of employee wellness.

Profiles of the 10 Design Excellence Award Winners and 10 Finalists

Featured image: Centennial College A-Building Expansion.

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