2024 RAIC Architectural Journalism and Media Award: Jim Taggart

Taggart’s work as a writer, editor, and advocate has helped accelerate the evolution of sustainable architecture in Canada.

Winner of a 2024 RAIC Architectural Journalism and Media Award

Jim Taggert

Jim Taggart left architectural practice in 1993 to pursue parallel interests in writing, editing and education. He started as a freelance writer whose byline soon became a regular fixture in various professional and trade magazines. In 2002, he was appointed as a contributing editor by both Canadian Architect and Wood Design & Building magazines. 

When publisher Don Griffith left Wood Design & Building in 2005, he and Taggart conceived a new publication for the growing Canadian green building movement. Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine (SABMag) began in 2006, with Taggart as founding editor. 

Over more than 80 issues of SABMag, Taggart has helped accelerate the evolution of sustainable architecture in Canada. Meanwhile, his wood advocacy has included more than 100 seminars across North America and internationally, as well as a similar number of articles and case studies.

Aimed at advancing sustainability practices, SABMag includes construction details and focuses on the challenges and opportunities presented by projects. “Ideas are one thing, but realizing them can be quite
a challenge,” said Taggart in a podcast interview with Craig Applegath of DIALOG. “We feature only Canadian buildings, so when an architect wants their client to aim higher, they can share an example of best practice from SABMag.”

Taggart’s book Toward a Culture of Wood Architecture (Abacus Editions, 2011), which won an Independent Book Publishers’ Silver Award, was a catalyst in the adoption of mass timber construction in Canada.
Its success led Taggert to co-author, with Michael Green, the book Tall Wood Buildings: Design, Construction & Performance (Birkhaüser, 2017 and 2020). “Beyond the prerequisite for third-party certified forest management, it is new products and technologies, building science and fire engineering that really underpin the whole tall wood initiative,” writes Taggart. “We see this book as adding momentum to the evidence-based approach that will ultimately inspire market confidence and drive industry transformation.”

His writing has also broadened the national conversation on sustainability, expanding its early focus on the “hardware” of high efficiency building systems, to embrace the “software” of societal values and priorities. He has incorporated these values into the criteria for the annual Canadian Green Building (SAB) Awards, for which he is the professional advisor. His e-book The Architecture of Engagement (Abacus Editions, 2020), winner of an Independent Book Publishers’ Gold Award, drew on his years of work at SABMag to argue for a more human-centred approach to sustainability. It argues that more holistic approaches to the design of buildings and communities are required to achieve a truly sustainable built environment. The book offers both the conceptual framework and a portfolio of case studies from across Canada to illustrate how these new approaches can be successfully realized in built work.

Jury Comment :: Jim Taggart is a Canadian architectural journalist who has made remarkable contributions to the field over the past decades. For his entire career through architectural publications, he has advocated for innovative architecture, and pushing the boundaries of sustainability and green building. Taggart has also been promoting Canadian architecture’s technical and civic potential for a long time. We acknowledge him for his dedication to learning, sharing knowledge, and creating forums for public discourse that benefit us all. His contributions have brought awareness to entire generations of architects and donors.

As appeared in the May 2024 issue of Canadian Architect magazine