Moriyama RAIC Student Scholarships awarded to three students

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the RAIC Foundation have announced the three winners of the inaugural Moriyama RAIC International Prize BMO Financial Group Scholarships. They are: Loïc Jasmin, Université de Montréal; Benny Kwok, Dalhousie University; and Shu Yin Wu, University of Waterloo. Each has won a $5,000 scholarship for writing an illustrated 1,000-word essay on the topic: Why Do I Want to be an Architect. 

The Moriyama RAIC Student Scholarships are new awards presented in conjunction with the biennial Moriyama RAIC International Prize in Architecture. They will be presented at a gala event in Toronto on October 11, 2014, at which time the winner of the inaugural Moriyama RAIC International Prize will also be introduced. The prize carries an award of $100,000 CDN and a sculpture by Canadian designer Wei Yu.

Students enrolled in every one of Canada’s 11 accredited schools of architecture submitted entries for the 2014 scholarships.

“For such a simple question, I was singularly impressed by the depth to which students took the underlying meaning and responded with heartfelt and passionate views on the world of architecture,” says Barry Johns, chair of the RAIC Foundation Board of Trustees.

The scholarships have been made possible by a $250,000 donation by the BMO Financial Group.

Loïc Jasmin survived the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a tragedy that motivated him to learn architecture as a tool to rebuild his community – and help rebuild the lives housed in that community. He writes, “I want to be an architect because I have lived without architecture…my experience has taught me that architecture is the building block of society, giving it a framework in which to live, thrive and develop.”

For Benny Kwok, the simple human need for shelter, community and communication form the basis of his desire to become an architect. He reflects on his participation in a building workshop in Norway with particular insight. The students on his team, who came from around the world, could not communicate fluently in English but found a common language in architecture. “We learned that the most effective method of working was to engage with the beach and draw around our bodies in the sand, and engage with the tools and materials by building our ideas to their true size.”

Shu Yin Wu’s desire to become an architect is tied to a vision of improving the lives of the 40 million Chinese who live in cave dwellings, known as Yaodong. The jury was impressed by her desire to bring light, culture and poetry to places usually associated with poverty and backwardness, and particularly the way her design proposal animated her essay. She writes, “I want to be an architect to reconceive Yaodong as a new shelter – a spiritual as well as a physical shelter.” 

A four-member jury evaluated submissions on the applicant’s expression of vision and aspiration, and on the strength of personal conviction.

The jury was comprised of Elsa Lam, MRAIC, editor of Canadian Architect magazine; Montreal architect Paule Boutin, FIRAC, proprietor of Paule Boutin Architecte and past president of the RAIC; Vancouver-based architect J. Robert Thibodeau, FIRAC, President of THIBODEAU Architecture + Design and Dean of the RAIC College of Fellows; and Maria Cook, RAIC manager of communications and advocacy. Professional Advisor David Covo, FRAIC, Associate Professor at the McGill University School of Architecture in Montreal, coordinated the selection process.

“The entrants’ personal stories, projects, and reflections were inspirational and, in many cases, moving,” says Lam, who served as chair. “The jury was impressed by the strong interest in this scholarship and found it challenging to choose only three winners. We wish each entrant the greatest success as they pursue their careers in architecture.”

For information about the Moriyama RAIC International Prize in Architecture and the Moriyama RAIC Student Scholarships, please visit