2023 RAIC Awards: Patkau Architects

Winner of the 2023 RAIC Architectural Practice Award

Audain Art Museum, Whistler, British Columbia, 2016. Photo by James Dow

Patkau Architects is a Canadian architecture practice and design research studio led by founding principals John and Patricia Patkau along with principals Greg Boothroyd and David Shone, senior associates Peter Suter, Michael Thorpe and Mike Green, and associates Dimitri Koubatis, Tom Schroeder, and Katy Young.

Working together with shared goals and ideas developed over decades of delivering award-winning buildings, the Patkau team has led the studio on a great diversity of projects ranging from major urban buildings and medium-scaled community buildings, to houses, art installations and furniture. Patkau’s commitment to the search for found potential—those aspects of place that can be gathered into an architectural form evocative of locale, circumstance, history, and landscape—is the through-line that distinguishes their work.

Patkau also applies their search for found potential to materials themselves, looking for new ways to shape and combine familiar materials to explore new possibilities and applications. A guiding principle in this work is Material + Force = Form, where form is simultaneously material, space and structure. The studio’s design lab tests these ideas at full scale, both in-house and in workshops around Vancouver, conducting experiments that inform and inspire their building-scale work.

The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver, British Columbia, 2017. Photo by James Dow


Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montréal, Québec, 2006 (Completed in collaboration with Croft Pelletier and MSDL Architects). Photo by James Dow
Winnipeg Skating Shelters, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2011. Photo by James Dow


Fort York National Historic Site and Visitor Centre, Toronto, Ontario, 2012 (Completed in collaboration with Kearns Mancini Architects). Photo by Vik Pahwa


Winnipeg Millennium Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2005 (Completed in collaboration with LM Architects). Photo by James Dow


Strawberry Vale Elementary School, Victoria, British Columbia, 1995. Photo by James Dow


Jury Comments:  To say that Patkau Architects has positively influenced the Canadian design landscape of the past half century is very much an understatement. From the late 1970s on, the Vancouver-based practice has executed a deservedly acclaimed body of work, each project defined by its innovation, attention to material and craft, and clarity of vision. Their considered work with timber structures emerged well before the current timber movement, and their hands-on approach to exploring materiality is reflected in a considered, elegant and sculptural body of work. Patkau Architects’ built work demonstrates a decisive competency in detailing, innovation, and tectonic clarity, while their design research work continues to push an agenda of material exploration that is indicative of a deep and evolving curiosity.  

Patkau Architects has remained a north star for over forty years: providing practitioners and the academy alike with a model for the authentic pursuit of design excellence in a range of building typologies and budgets. Equally compelling is how the firm’s drive for innovation is resolved at every scale, with an extraordinary attention to detail. Each building is an essay in place-making and an authentic response through form, light and material.

The jury for this award included Stephan Chevalier, Juan Du, Francine Houben, Bruce Kuwabara, Michael Leckie, and Janna Levitt.