2023 RAIC Awards: Dalhousie Architectural Press

Winner of a 2023 RAIC Architectural Journalism & Media Award

For over 40 years, Dalhousie Architectural Press (DAP) has been Canada’s most prolific and dedicated publisher of books on Canada’s modern and contemporary architecture. During this time, the academic publisher has produced over 90 publications, and is the recipient of more than 25 publishing awards. 

Dalhousie Architectural Press began as Tech-Press, and was founded at Nova Scotia Technical College, forerunner of the Technical University of Nova Scotia, around 1978 by Professor Anthony Jackson (1926-2015). From the late-1970s to early-1980s, Tech-Press’s publications included The Democratization of Canadian Architecture by Anthony Jackson (Tech-Press, 1978); The Future of Canadian Architecture, also by Jackson (Tech-Press, 1979); Larry Richards Works, 1977-1980 (Tech-Press, 1980); and A Pictorial History of the Basilica of St. Mary, Halifax, Nova Scotia by J. Philip McAleer (Tech-Press, 1984).

By the mid-1980s, the press was active in publishing regional and international development studies, exhibition catalogues, and monographs on significant Halifax landmarks. A decade later, it shifted to focus on Canadian architecture. This change coincided with the publication of a monograph on the work of John and Patricia Patkau in 1994, at which time the publisher was renamed TUNS Press. The renamed Press’s focus was to bring Canadian architects into the general discourse on architecture, and to document leading works in a process-focused way. The Press’s books are designed as useful references for students, professionals, and the general public, with the inclusion of plans, sections, and elevations alongside key images.

“The Press did not set out to be a commercial undertaking serving a general market; this role has been well-inhabited by commercial publication enterprises,” wrote the late Essy Baniassad, co-founder of TUNS Press, who remained on its editorial board until his passing earlier this year. “Rather, our publications have aimed to discover the significance of architectural works, guided by an intuition of their quality. To articulate that intuition brings it to the realm of discourse and advances the range of architectural communication. This goal necessitates a fundamental and growing theoretical platform. For the Press, two planks of this platform are the process of design and the study of architecture. In this sense, the Press is a scholarly undertaking, one which allows diverse contributions and debated positions.”

“The inherent challenges and practical implications of this position are not difficult to imagine,” continued Baniassad. “To search for what is emerging, rather than what is already in public display, requires close and constant observation and familiarity with emerging practices. Our publications on the Patkaus and on Brian MacKay-Lyons were the first studies of practices that subsequently received much wider exposure. These early monographs have a degree of elegance, depth, and intensity that continue to guide us in our publishing program.”

Three of Dalhousie Architectural Press’s series focus on Canadian architecture: Architectural Signatures Canada, Canadian Modern, and Documents in Canadian Architecture. These series endeavour, respectively, to illuminate the work of emerging architects and designers, to spotlight the cultural and architectural history of Canada, and to document the best of current architecture in Canada.

Recent publications include monographs on D’Arcy Jones Architects (2022), Ian MacDonald Architect (2019), and Dan Hanganu (2017); a volume on the late Barry Sampson’s teaching and practice (2021); a retrospective on a decade of Winnipeg’s Warming Huts (2021); and historic studies on the Ark for Prince Edward Island (2018) and the Fuller Research Foundation’s Canadian Division (2017).

The press has retained its home in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at Dalhousie University, as well as a focus on publishing original, high-quality books in architecture and planning. In addition to Baniassad, the press’s volunteer editorial board has included Dalhousie architecture deans and former deans Frank Palermo, Tom Emodi, Grant Wanzel, Christine Macy, and Graham Gagnon. Other board members have included Brian Carter, Sarah Bonnemaison, Michelangelo Sabatino, Hans Ibelings, Sascha Hastings, Michael Windover, and Michael Faciejew. Susanne Marshall has been publication manager since 2014, and was preceded in the role by Donald Westin.

Jury Comments: Our ability to celebrate the unique voices of architecture across Canada is predicated on the dedication of journalists and media focusing time and resources that are increasingly scarce and more global in focus. A review of the publications produced by Dalhousie Press (formerly TUNS Press) shows that for over 40 years, it has covered the breadth and depth of Canadian architecture from coast to coast. Regional publications, historic documentation, and monographs by emerging practices and architecture’s stalwarts are represented in carefully curated and beautifully published books. As a small press focusing on our built culture, it positions Canadian architecture within the broader international context, while teasing out the aspects of our own history and culture that make the work truly Canadian. The jury was unanimous in its support and gratitude for the work of Dalhousie Architectural Press, with its continued impact on Canadian architecture. 

The jury for this award included Brent Bellamy, Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, Michael Green, Jenn McArthur, Shallyn Murray, and Betsy Williamson.