Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada until 2027, a major research partnership on quality in the built environment brings together – for the first time – 14 universities, 70 researchers and 68 public and private organizations at the municipal, provincial and national levels.

The total value of this partnership will be $8.6M ($2.5M from SSHRC, $6.1M from partners including $4.2M in-kind contributions). Such an investment confirms the commitment of all partners and the importance of the collaborative process.

The partnership will stimulate a vital dialog demonstrating how those active in considering and creating the built environment across Canada can contribute to a redefinition of quality that moves us to heightened equity, more social value and greater sustainability at a critical moment for our societies and for our planet.


Coordinated, from the University of Montreal, by the Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence (CRC-ACME), the partnership Quality in Canada’s Built Environment: Roadmaps to Equity, Social Value and Sustainability addresses the diversity of public environments impacting the everyday life of millions of Canadians in urban spaces, buildings and landscapes.


The program has three aims:

  1. Analyzing the current limitations of environmental norms and sustainability models to bring us closer to the United NationsSustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  2. Co-designing new paths to equity, diversity and inclusion in the built environment.
  3. Defining new frameworks for the definition of quality so as to enhance the social value of the built environment through roadmaps to quality.


To achieve these objectives, the partnership brings together methodologically 4 sets of stakeholders concerned with the use, scientific study, planning, design, construction and management of built environments:

  • Citizens (representatives of communities including minorities and underrepresented populations).
  • Cities (national, provincial and municipal actors in the public procurement of built environments).
  • Organizations assessing quality (professional associations, award granting institutions, councils, cities).
  • Universities (interdisciplinary research teams).


For the first time and at an unprecedented scale in the design disciplines in Canada, the project gathers 14 universities including all of the schools of architecture as well as most landscape architecture and environmental design departments. It mobilizes 23 disciplines concerned with the impact of built environments on citizens. Sixty-eight partner organizations including national institutions and not-for-profit will join in a conversation pertaining to 4 thematic clusters to address urgent considerations on quality relative to:

  1. Spatial justice and heightened quality of life.
  2. Integrated resilience, material culture and adaptative reuse.
  3. inclusive design for health, wellness, aging and special needs.
  4. processes and policies supporting the reinvention of built environments.


This extraordinary collaborative effort will stimulate training, internships and connections between hundreds of students and communities of practice. The partnership will engage in cross-sectoral co-creation of knowledge whose outcomes will take the form of “roadmaps to quality” (guidebooks, analyses of exemplary case studies, resources for design thinking and proposals for public policies, etc.). These will constitute a bilingual Living Atlas on Quality in the Built Environment set on a digital platform created with the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Designed as a public forum on the social, economic and environmental value of quality, the Living Atlas will offer open access to repertories of award-winning projects, case studies, comparative analyses, scientific resources and articles, interpretative didactic podcasts, analogical maps and visualizations.

SSHRC Partnership Grant # 895-2022-1003


To see the full list of official co-applicants, collaborators, and partners:

Link to the SSHRC platform:


Steering Committee (2022-2023)


Josie C. Auger, PhD, Adjunct professor, Athabasca University

Jean-Pierre Chupin, PhD, Professor, Université de Montréal, SSHRC partnership director

Carmela Cucuzzella, PhD, Professor, Concordia University

Doramy Ehling, CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation

Terrance Galvin, PhD, Professor, Laurentian University

Thierry Montpetit, OAQ OAA, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Lyne Parent, Directrice, Association des architectes en pratique privée du Québec

Brian Robert Sinclair, PhD, Professor, University of Calgary

Federica Goffi, PhD, Professor, Carleton University

Robert M. Wright, MLA, Professor, University of Toronto


Dimitri Weibel, MSc Pol. Sc., SSHRC partnership coordinator

The project, entitled Potentials of Architectural Quality: Equity, Sustainability and Cultural Openness, will have Jean-Pierre Chupin (Ph. D.) as team coordinator. The amount of the subvention granted to the LEAP by the FRQSC (support to research teams/university renewal) for this project is $423,420 and will be spread over a 4-year period, thus until 2027!

For 2022-2027, the programming of the Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle is based on three research chairs to address a central issue that directly impacts the daily lives of millions of citizens: the quality of built environments.

The program of the Potentials of Architectural Quality: Equity, Sustainability and Cultural Openness project is based on three axes:

  • Axis 1: Equity, spatial justice and improvement of the quality of life (linked to the Canada Research Chair (2) on spatial justice, McGill);
  • Axis 2: Sustainability imperatives and material qualities of built environments (linked to the Research Chair in ecological and integrated design, Concordia);
  • Axis 3: Cultural openness and the process of recognizing architectural quality (linked to the Canada Research Chair (1) in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence, Montreal).

The collective reflection on quality intends to paint a global and coherent portrait of our discipline and its renewal, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to demonstrate how actors in the built environment can contribute to a redefinition of quality at a critical moment in our collective history. The team is composed of researchers from four Montreal universities.

  • Université de Montréal: Jean-Pierre Chupin, Georges Adamczyk, Izabel Amaral, Denis Bilodeau, Anne Cormier, Bechara Helal, Virginie LaSalle
  • Concordia University: Carmela Cucuzzella, Cynthia Hammond
  • McGill University: Ipek Türeli
  • UQÀM: Thomas Bernard Kenniff, Louis Martin


This book is the first scientific study to focus on awards in architecture and the built environment investigating their exponential growth since the 1980s. The celebration of excellence in architecture and related fields remains a phenomenon on which there is strangely little scientific scrutiny. It is now necessary to take a critical distance to question what awards are meant to embody, symbolize, and perhaps measure. Each of the 10 chapters in this volume is centered on one question related to themes as varied as the comparison of Pritzker and Nobel Prizes, the Prix de Rome, the redefinition of quality through awards, green awards and sustainability, the multiplication of sustainable awards, heritage awards, architecture book awards, the awarding of school architecture, awards as mediations and awards as pedagogical devices. 


This book offers an in-depth analysis of the widespread practice of acknowledging the quality of architecture works with prizes, awards, and project competitions given to individuals, collective works, and constructions. This timely study considers a contemporary culture of recognition that is largely taken for granted and not yet grasped as a global and rising phenomenon that has seen exponential growth since the 1980s. The contributors thus address the controversies, ambiguities, and shortcomings surrounding this context, including issues of gender biases, cultural diversity, transparency, and how media, politics, and financial prizes impact architectural awards. The authors provide scholarly insights that cannot be found elsewhere, proving a timely contribution to knowledge that will further our understanding of the context in which contemporary architecture practices operate.

Federica Goffi, Ph.D.,
School of Architecture (Carleton University)

This book raises, in quite a healthy and rational fashion, the vexed question of the judgment of quality in the arts, lifting the lid on the very human and sometimes unseemly tendency to favor winners and follow the money, while yet allowing some hope for continuing development of mechanisms that permit valid judgments, promote genuine quality, and encourage current and future practitioners. This is an unusually balanced point of view. This is a useful guide to understanding how things have worked and to acting intelligently to make things fairer.

David Vanderburgh, Ph.D.,
Laboratory of Architecture and the Built Environment (Université catholique de Louvain)

Authors and Editors

Jean-Pierre Chupin, Carmela Cucuzzella, Georges Adamczyk (Eds.)

by Dana Buntrock (University of California, Berkeley), Marco Polo (Ryerson University), Jean-Pierre Chupin (Université de Montréal), Carmela Cucuzzella (Concordia University), Sherif Goubran (The American University in Cairo, Egypt), Aurélien Catros (Université de Montréal), Adélie de Marre (Université de Montréal), Lucie Palombi (Université de Montréal), Alexandra Paré (Université de Montréal), Typhaine Moogin (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Georges Adamczyk (Université de Montréal)

What Can Explain the Exponential Growth of Awards in the Built Environment?

The various authors of this book have prepared videos addressing the key elements of the chapters they have written. Watch them below and learn more about architectural awards.

Dana Buntrock, Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Chapter 1 – Big in Japan: What the Nobel Prize reveals about the Pritzker Prize

Marco L. Polo, Professor, Department of Architectural Science, Toronto Metropolitan University

Chapter 2 – Is there still a place for the Prix de Rome?

Carmela Cucuzzella, Professor, Design and Computation Arts, Concordia University

Chapter 4 – How Do Green Awards Assess Sustainability?

Sherif Goubran, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, The American University in Cairo (AUC).

Chapter 5 – How did Canada Come to Host more than 100 Categories of Sustainable Awards?

Aurélien Catros, PhD candidate, Université de Montréal
Adélie De Marre, PhD candidate, Université de Montréal

Chapter 6 – Are Heritage Awards a New Type of Conservation Status?

Lucie Palombi, PhD candidate, Université de Montréal

Chapter 7 – Do Architecture Book Awards Have Literary Ambition?

Alexandra Paré, PhD candidate, Université de Montréal

Chapter 8 – Should School Architecture Be Recognized in Specific Award Categories?

Georges Adamczyk, Professor, School of Architecture, Université de Montréal

Chapter 10 – What Can Students Learn from Architecture Awards?