Gerald Sheff

Gerald Sheff has recently retired from Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., the investment company he co founded with Ira Gluskin in 1984. During that time, Sheff served as a Director of the firm, as its Chairman, and as Chief Executive Officer. 

He graduated from the School of Architecture at McGill University in 1964, and subsequently moved to London, England, where, as a young architecture graduate, he worked for a year for Sir Basil Spence, whom he had met following a public lecture by Spence while he was still a student at McGill. In late 1964, he moved back to his home city of Montreal, where he worked for nearly three years for Bland, LeMoyne, Edwards and Shine on a number of projects including the British Pavilion at Expo 67. In 1969, he went back to school, undertaking a Master of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, from which he graduated in 1971. Following this, he joined Cadillac Developments in Toronto, which later become Cadillac Fairview, playing a number of key roles with that firm. In 1984, he left to join Ira Gluskin in creating Gluskin Sheff, which went on to become one of the most successful investment firms in Canada. 

Over the years, Sheff has demonstrated a strong personal passion for architecture, and has given expression to that passion through a remarkable series of important architectural commissions, as well as through an exemplary pattern of philanthropic support for architectural culture in Canada. Among these notable and award-winning commissions are the Boathouse on Lake Muskoka (1999) by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, the Sheff Residence (2001) by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, and the Cottage for Two Families in Muskoka (2006) by Kohn Shnier Architects.

Additionally, in 2002, he commissioned a project for a tree house on his Muskoka property from Lukasz Kos, at that time a student in the Master of Architecture program at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Kos was the winner of a design competition Sheff and his wife Shanitha had sponsored among students at the Daniels Faculty. Since its construction, the tree house has been published in 11 different architecture and design magazines around the world. 

In addition to his activities as a patron of award-winning architectural projects, Sheff has supported architectural culture in Canada through major philanthropic initiatives. In 2005, he made a million-dollar gift to his architectural alma mater, McGill University, to found the Sheff Visiting Professorship in Architecture. Gluskin Sheff also currently funds travelling scholarships for students in the McGill Architecture program. He has also provided substantial ongoing financial support to the activities of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal during his term as a member of the Board of Directors of the CCA, as well as providing key advice to that Board.

Jury Comments

Beyond Mr. Sheff’s generosity in both his time and philanthropy directed to architecture and the arts is his regard, as a client, for the commissioning of building projects which have achieved both national and international recognition contributing to the enhanced profile of Canadian architecture.

The unanimous and swift decision by the jury to confer the Advocate for Architecture 2011 Award of Excellence on Gerald Sheff is a remarkable testimony to the significant contribution he has made to Canada’s architectural domain.

The jury for this award was comprised of William Chomik, PP/FRAIC; Christopher Fillingham, PP/FRAIC; and Eric Haldenby, FRAIC.