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Sudbury's architecture school wins provincial design prize

Sudbury’s McEwen School of Architecture recognized with Design Excellence Award
The McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University is located in Sudbury’s downtown. (Bob Gundu photo)

Sudbury’s McEwen School of Architecture has been recognized with a 2018 Design Excellence Award from the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA).

The Laurentian University school was named as one of 10 recipients selected from more than 111 submissions. According to an OAA press release, the 20 finalists were judged on a number of criteria, including creativity, context, sustainability, good design/good business and legacy.

“Every year it is a privilege to honour the very best in Canadian architecture and design. The OAA Awards help to champion and encourage a new standard of excellence every year and 2018 has been no exception,” said John Stephenson, OAA president and a Thunder Bay-based architect, in the release.

“Every project submitted for the awards has showcased how architects continue to help build and strengthen communities around the world and is a testament to the strength of our industry.”

Located in the city’s downtown core, the McEwen School of Architecture consists of a new 36,480-square-foot steel and concrete studio wing and a new 15,670-square-foot cross-laminated timber (CLT) library wing. Construction of the architecture school – the country’s first in 40 years – was completed in 2017.

In addition to serving as an “urban regeneration catalyst” and “educational hub and think tank for the region,” the school serves as a centre for research and innovation, the OAA said.

“McEwen’s Library Wing is a CLT demonstration project funded by the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE). CLT is a sustainable engineered wood product that could be manufactured in many parts of northern Canada,” the OAA wrote in its analysis.

“The new library and studio wings connect with two adaptive-reuse buildings to shelter an outdoor courtyard/workshop and ceremonial fire pit. Infrastructure is exposed and labelled, turning the entire school into a teaching tool for its students. This also facilitates the swapping of building system technologies with more efficient products when available."

Sustainability is also cited as a factor, with the OAA noting the school “will require 44 per cent less energy than the code standard minimum.”

“The Laurentian University McEwen School of Architecture’s curriculum addresses resilient architecture and fabrication techniques for Northern latitudes, with an emphasis on Indigenous culture, wood construction, local ecologies and resources, as well as design for the impact of climate change.”

The McEwen School of Architecture will now be eligible for the People’s Choice Award. Voting is now open at

Design Excellent Award winners will be celebrated during the OAA’s conference on May 25 in Toronto.

The OAA is a self-regulating organization governed by the Architects Act, which aims to represent, regulate, support and promote the profession of architecture in the interest of all Ontarians and to lead the design and delivery of built form in the Province of Ontario.


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