RAIC announces two recipients of Emerging Architectural Practice Award

Gweilo lights are hand-formed after being heated by standing in-front of a gas-fired burner. Photo by Jonathan Friedman / PARTISANS

The RAIC has announced that two firms have been selected for the 2020 Emerging Architectural Practice Award. Toronto-based PARTISANS and Charlottetown’s Nine Yards Studio are the recipients for this year’s award.

The RAIC Emerging Architectural Practice Award was established to recognize the achievements of new practices—for the quality of their built work, service to their clients, innovations in practice, and public recognition. Eligible firms need to be practicing and licensed in Canada, and must have been established in the past 10 years.

Founded in 2012, PARTISANS is a Toronto-based studio that integrates design and technology, invention and programming, and culture and creative services. Led by Alex Josephson, Pooya Baktash, and Jonathan Friedman, the practice includes a diverse team of architects, researchers, storytellers, entrepreneurs, builders and cultural enthusiasts devoted to a single cause: creating smart, high-performance design that strives to make the improbable possible.

Bar Raval interior. Photo by Jonathan Friedman / PARTISANS

The name PARTISANS comes from the importance the studio places on taking clear positions on architectural issues. They regard architecture to be a collective, political act. The three partners share an ethos that architecture is not just the act of designing, but rather also a way of seeing, thinking and making that expands—and even revolutionizes—our experience of the world.

Raincoat prototype at Sidewalk Labs in Toronto. Photo by Jonathan Friedman / PARTISANS

PARTISANS works across scales, programs and types—from the design of objects and furniture, to transit stations and urban visions. The strategic decision to forgo programmatic or typological specialization comes from the importance that they place on both innovation and partnerships.

Grotto sauna interior. Photo by Jonathan Friedman / PARTISANS

In their design process, PARTISANS combines new-world technologies with old-world craftsmanship. They use advanced digital modelling and rapid prototyping technologies, as well as hand-drawing, photography and sculpture to create context-specific solutions. These practices help hone aspirations, while ensuring high fidelity to a strong concept all the way through to construction.

Food court interior with ceiling PODs product designed by PARTISANS. Photo by Jonathan Friedman / PARTISANS

With every project, the team at PARTISANS designs to optimize performance and experience with an eye toward subverting expectations and creating meaningful built experiences.

“The firm’s projects are original, powerful and evocative,” writes the jury. “The team is capable of thinking at all scales from interiors to city planning; the works speak to a vision for the future that is free-minded and innovative. As outspoken advocates for the quality of architecture as a social vehicle, their success is evidenced by the beloved spaces they have crafted.”


Founded in 2017 by architects Silva Stojak and Shallyn Murray, Nine Yards Studio (9Y) is a multidisciplinary design practice on Prince Edward Island, with a satellite office in Halifax. The studio’s name is inspired by the expression “the whole nine yards”; the practice is committed to the many facets of design and the proposition that great design can—and should—enhance our surroundings.

Nine Yard Studio team photo.

Nine Yards’ range of design services includes architecture, interior design, furniture design, graphic design, branding and custom art installations.

The firm’s founders have both been committee members on the board of the Architects Association of Prince Edward Island, for which Stojak served as President from 2016 to 2018. Both partners act as mentors; last year, they created the Nine Yards Studio Scholarship at the Dalhousie School of Architecture for Master’s students who show a commitment to their community.

View of the River Cabins. Photo by Tamzin Gillis, Dear Addie Photography

Stojak received her architecture degree from the University of Sarajevo in 1987 and was a partner at BGHJ Architects before starting Nine Yards. She was named one of the top 10 Women Business Leaders by Atlantic Business Magazine and awarded the 2012 Lieutenant Governor Award for Excellence in Architecture.

Beehives project. Photo by Tamzin Gillis, Dear Addie Photography

Murray holds a Diploma in Engineering from the University of Prince Edward Island as well as a Master’s of Architecture from Dalhousie University. She is the youngest practicing architect on the Island, and currently sits on the planning board for the City of Charlottetown, as well as being a member of the sustainability-focused Vision 2050 board.

The firm hosts community-focused events, including a recent panel about the sustainable development of Charlottetown’s waterfront—a project which will be further developed in the coming year in collaboration with the City.

College of Piping Theatre. Photo by Tamzin Gillis, Dear Addie Photography

“Nine Yards Studio shows an admirable dedication to community through the promotion of architecture, craft, and design that is uniquely representative of the place in which they live and practice,” writes the jury. “The quiet elegance of their work is rooted in the context of Prince Edward Island. At the forefront, the realizations of the studio are extremely playful within a critical discourse. The studio is an active leader in the profession through their work with Building Equality in Architecture, Atlantic (BEAA).”

Due to the cancellation of the 2020 Conference, PARTISANS and Nine Yards Studio will be honoured as award recipients at the RAIC 2021 Conference on Architecture in Montreal, Quebec.

The 2020 jury included:

  • Diarmuid Nash, PP/FRAIC Chair of the Jury, Moriyama & Teshima Architects
  • Rami Bebawi, MRAIC, KANVA, Quebec, QC
  • Pat Hanson, FRAIC, gh3, Toronto, ON
  • Jessie Andjelic, MRAIC, SPECTACLE, Calgary, AB
  • Omar Gandhi, MRAIC, Omar Gandhi Architect, Halifax, NS
  • Shelley Craig, FRAIC, Urban Arts Architecture, Vancouver, BC
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