LGA Architectural Partners announces the Rya and Eric Levitt Memorial Award

Rendering of Laurentian University School of Architecture, currently being completed by LGA Architectural Partners
Rendering of Laurentian University School of Architecture, currently being completed by LGA Architectural Partners

Toronto’s LGA Architectural Partners has established an annual scholarship with a $10,000 endowment that, starting in 2016, will benefit an Aboriginal student entering first year at the Laurentian University School of Architecture in Sudbury, Ontario. The award reflects the firm’s passions for education, cultural engagement and the Aboriginal arts community. The firm has also designed a new, 75,000-square-foot School of Architecture for Laurentian University that embodies these passions. Phase One opened in 2014 and Phase Two will be complete in 2016.

LGA has named the scholarship in honour of founding principal Janna Levitt’s late parents, Rya and Eric, who both had a deep connection to Ontario’s Northern and Aboriginal arts communities. Eric co-ran Yolles, a prominent Ontario furniture chain whose northern headquarters were in Sudbury. Yolles actively supported local events and sports teams. Rya, an internationally recognized ceramicist, avidly encouraged, collected and promoted the Woodland Aboriginal artists, starting with Norval Morriseau in the early ‘70s, followed by artists like Carl Beam, Angus Trudeau and Shirley Cheechoo.

LGA shares their spirit of engagement. The practice creates regionally specific, socially relevant architecture. The new School of Architecture will help revitalize its downtown locale. It was designed in consultation with local citizens, including the area’s English, French and Aboriginal groups, to ensure cultural inclusivity. It will also offer a much-needed hub, with its mix of new and adaptive re-use buildings as well as an all-season public courtyard. Furthermore, as the only architecture school in Canada to be both based in and focused on the north, its massing, siting, structure and skin are all demonstrative of best practices for building in the region, and, as such, will not only provide a bright, positive learning environment for the students but a positive example from which the students can learn.

Speaking of the award, Levitt remarked, “I feel incredibly honoured that LGA is establishing this award. Canada’s Aboriginal communities are under-represented in the profession of architecture. This will be an opportunity to help broaden the diversity of the profession, which will benefit our northern communities and the country as a whole by encouraging new voices to create original works — an ideal shared by my parents.”

Contributions to help grow and sustain the Rya and Eric Levitt Memorial Award are greatly appreciated, and can be made either by cheque, payable to Laurentian University with the name of the award in the memo, or online at: laurentian.ca/giving-lu.