When the first class graduates from the Laurentian University School of Architecture six years from now, they likely won't have much trouble finding jobs, according to the president of the Ontario Association of Architects.
The federal government has identified a shortage of architects in the country, said Bill Birdsell.
“The shortage will get more acute as time goes on,” he said.
It's often difficult for Northern Ontario architecture firms to recruit new architects to the area, Birdsell said.
While there's been an economic downturn in the region, he said new buildings are still going up, and architects are needed to design them.
“So one of the benefits of having a local school, with local connections, is we're hoping people will be educated (here) and stay.”
Even if they don't end up working in their own field, Birdsell said there's other professions where the new architects' skills would be useful. Interestingly, many Canadian architects are being recruited to design CGI buildings in Hollywood films.
“That's what architects do, we mold space for people to use,” he said. “So of course you can mold images of space the same way.”
Birdsell was in Sudbury Sept. 10 for meetings with members who live in the area. He took time out of his schedule to tour the new architecture school, which officially opened Sept. 4.
During his visit, the 70 members of the school's charter class were busy carving hunks of wood with chisels. Birdsell was also able to visit with an Aboriginal elder who is an adviser with the program.
He said he's impressed with the architecture school's commitment to bilingualism and Aboriginal culture, as well as to the use of natural materials such as wood in building projects.
Birdsell said he also enjoyed meeting with the architecture school's founding director, Terrance Galvin.
“Terrance is a great guy,” he said.
“I've met him before, of course. I think he's doing a great job to blend the cultures, pull together a community of teachers and launch this school of architecture that will have a different face and present that to the rest of the profession.”
While the Laurentian University School of Architecture isn't currently accredited, and won't be until roughly the time the first class of students graduates, Birdsell said he doesn't think it will have trouble getting that piece of paper.
“I'm confident they'll get that, because Terrance has got very good support, and he's got a very good program designed,” he said.