Alan DeSousa receives 2017 RAIC Advocate for Architecture Award

Alan DeSousa. Photo courtesy of Borough of Saint-Laurent.
Alan DeSousa. Photo courtesy of Borough of Saint-Laurent.

A municipal politician who has made a significant contribution to sustainable development and exemplary design in Montreal will receive the 2017 RAIC Advocate for Architecture Award. The Award celebrates an individual who has made a public contribution to architecture in Canada by means other than the practice of architecture. It recognizes long-term commitment to the profession at a national, regional or local level.

Alan DeSousa has been mayor of the Borough of Saint-Laurent of the City of Montreal since 2002 and a municipal politician since 1990. He is a member of the council of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, which represents 82 municipalities.

“His work reflects a creative and effective use of the role of government in support of architecture,” said the three-member jury. “He is a strong and effective advocate for quality architecture and urban design in Quebec, supporting a vision of modernism as well as heritage conservation.”

For example, Montreal’s 2006 official designation as a UNESCO City of Design comes out of public policy documents that set design as a municipal priority. DeSousa played a leading role in the development and adoption of those documents: The Economic Development Strategy 2005-2010 defined design as a driver of economic growth, while the action plan, Montreal: City of Design/Design of a City, proposed steps such as design competitions for major public buildings.

From 2001 to 2012, DeSousa served on the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal where he held several posts including Vice-Chair and member responsible for Economic Development and Sustainable Development, among other files. In 2009, he tabled a policy that set a minimum standard of LEED GOLD certification for new buildings on the Island of Montreal. He championed transit-oriented development, LEED Silver certification and strict design guidelines in the Bois-Franc urban redevelopment project of the 1990s in Saint-Laurent.

Under his leadership, the Borough of Saint-Laurent revised municipal regulations and set guidelines to preserve the heritage qualities of wartime houses in the Norvick neighbourhood; plans to create a clean technologies campus, the Éco-campus Hubert-Reeve, and has expressed support for a Quebec Architecture Policy.

“I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of all of my fellow citizens of Saint-Laurent,” said DeSousa. “With their support, I have worked hard to make Saint-Laurent an innovative green community where quality of life is closely related to the architectural quality of the built environment. The fact that Phyllis Lambert is a past award recipient in this category makes this honour all the more special to me.”

The jury consisted of Linda Fraser, Archivist, and Chief Curator at Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary; Claude Hamelin Lalonde, FIRAC, architect at DKA Architectes with offices in Montreal and Boisbriand, QC and Past President of the Quebec Association of Architects; and Sean Ruthen, FRAIC, writer, and architect with VIA Architecture in Vancouver.

The award will be presented at the RAIC/OAA Festival of Architecture, which takes place in Ottawa May 24 to 27.