Regent Park Aquatic Centre Los Angeles, Tel-Aviv, Waterloo, Sequin Township and Vancouver: Ontario architects have conceived some awe-inspring buildings in their own backyards and across the globe too.

Whether they’re designing single-family homes or university buildings, the province’s top talent has created some fascinating spaces. The Ontario Association of Architects recently recognized the creme de la creme in their 2013 Design Excellence Awards.

Though more than 170 submissions were considered, the laurels went to just 15 new builds. Each of the structures was chosen by a jury made up of the design community that evaluated the buildings based on five central criteria: creativity, context, sustainability, good design/good business and legacy.

Take a look at a handful of the winners below:

UBC Pharmacy Saucier + Perrrotte 4548813_14_3 (900)

Location: The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Project Name: The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development

Firm:  Saucier + Perrotte and Hughes Condon Marler Architects

The details: Proving boxy is not boring, the university building is where geometric shapes meet the natural world. The space has lots of natural light from the expansive windows and the overall design is meant to looks like the branches of a tree — albeit with a tectonic remix. But the architects weren’t just inspired by the outdoors, they also aimed to make the structure as sustainable as possible. The UBC building is in the process of attaining LEED Gold rating.

Photo: Marc Cramer

-DL-QDS-OAA_by Marc Cramer

Location: St. Catherine Street, Montreal

Project Name: Place des Festivals + Vitrines habitees – Quartier des spectacles

Firm: Daoust Lestage Inc.

The details: The massive public space combines performance space with the largest interactive fountain in Canada (it’s programmed to respond to light, sound and movement). Nearly 100 trees were also planted on site to offset the heat island effect of the neighbouring downtown buildings. The space has become so popular that the Vitrines need to be expanded to hold double their current capacity.

Photo: Marc Cramer

Regent Park Aquatic Centre

Location: Dundas and Sumach Street, Toronto

Project Name: Regent Park Aquatic Centre

The Firm: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects

The Details: The stand-alone facility has created quite the splash. Set back from the street, the facade combines glass, wood and blackened zinc and the two pools are enclosed in glass. The centre is also pretty progressive. Not only is it designed to the City of Toronto’s green development standards, the space also features a universal changing area (cubicles available to everyone, regardless of gender).


Location: Ryerson University, Toronto

Project Name: Ryerson Image Centre/School of Image Arts

The Firm: Diamond and Schmitt Architects

The Details: The structure combines a free admission gallery that focuses on lens-based art as well as the international centre for photographic research (a part of Ryerson’s School of Arts). A central aspect of the design of the building is light, the source of all photographic wonders. A lighting feature wraps around the building and features programmed displays. But the best part is its interactivity. Through an app, anyone with a smartphone can create lighting designs of their own.

Photo: Tom Arban

The award-winners will be feted at a gala on May 10th at a ceremony hosted by Ben Mulroney and OAA President Bill Birdsell at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. But if you want a say in which firm should take home another shiny plaque, you can check out the OAA’s People’s Choice Award Page at You’ll have until April 15th at 4:30pm to pick your favourite new building from the 15 ‘Design Excellence’ Award winners.

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