Kelly Nelson Doran wins the Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners

University of Toronto architecture graduate Kelly Nelson Doran is the winner of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners. He will have the opportunity to study the impacts that resource development companies have on the landscape, infrastructure and urbanism of the North.


This $34,000 Prix de Rome is awarded to a recent graduate of one of Canada’s ten accredited schools of architecture who demonstrates outstanding potential. The prizewinner is given the opportunity to visit exceptional buildings abroad, and to intern at an architecture firm of international stature.


Over the next year, Doran will travel to six industrial communities in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland to study their economic structure and how they incorporate various elements of sustainable development that could enhance regional planning practices in Canada. He hopes that his travels to Scandinavian cities will develop his understanding of the impact that extreme geographic and economic climates have on architecture. His research will culminate in the publication and exhibition of the six case studies. Mr. Doran’s internship will be with 70°N Arkitektur AS in Norway.


Doran was selected by an assessment committee consisting of architects Russell Acton (Vancouver), Diana Carl (Newport, Nova Scotia), Patrick Evans (Montreal), Raymond Gosselin (Regina), and radio producer Sascha Hastings (Toronto).


The peer assessors noted that while Doran’s argument about sustainable development of northern towns is interesting, it was his proposed design work that convinced them of the value of his work. The assessment committee was also impressed by Doran’s interest in collecting information about society, economy and environment, noting that this level of involvement and knowledge is “essential to the making of a citizen-architect.”


Drawn from a lifetime of observing the economic, industrial and infrastructural transformation of the Western Canadian landscape, Doran’s architectural research has focused on the behaviours of oil companies operating within the Mackenzie Basin. His design thesis proposed a set of regional landscape strategies for oil companies to adopt in areas similar to the northern Alberta oil sands. It included a matrix of alternative operations that would utilize the transformative potentials of surface mining to produce an infrastructural landscape designed to support future, ecological, industrial occupations.


Born in Winnipeg, Doran was the 2003 University Gold Medallist at the University of Manitoba where he earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design. He also holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto where he was the recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Medal, the American Institute of Architects medal, the Irving Grossman Prize, and the 2007 Cohos Evamy Travelling Scholarship which funded his research travel to Fort McMurray, Inuvik and Tuktoyatuk. His work has been published by the MIT Press, Canadian Architect and is currently on exhibit at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


Professionally, Doran has worked with WilliamsonWilliamson Inc. (Toronto), Eisenman Architects (New York), Syverson Monteyne Architects (Winnipeg) and Corbett Cibinel Architects (Winnipeg).  Doran has lived in Toronto, São Paulo, New York, San Luis Potosi and Dublin. He currently resides above the Arctic Circle in Tromsø, Norway where he is working with 70°N Arkitektur AS on the sustainable redevelopment of a former docklands in Copenhagen.


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