RAIC Awards – Young Architect: Monica Adair
Monica Adair has a passion for making a difference—improving the physical landscape of New Brunswick, along with the goal of widening the public perspective as to its importance and value in our lives. From her practice of architecture and public art, as well as her serving on juries, volunteer boards, and teaching at a postsecondary level, she has been extremely successful at widening the reach of contemporary design in New Brunswick, while pushing the boundaries of debate with respect to investing in the region’s infrastructure and cultural environment.
Adair holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to cofounding Acre Architects with husband Stephen Kopp in 2010, Adair worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York City and PLANT Architect Inc. in Toronto. Most recently, she was at Murdock & Boyd Architects in Saint John where she was project architect for a hockey arena that won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Architecture in New Brunswick.
Since its inception, Acre Architects has taken part in Migrating Landscapes, Canada’s entry to the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture. The firm’s projects range from houses, such as the Mackay Apple Orchard on the Kingston Peninsula to public installations such as In Transit in Saint John, and larger projects like Picaroon’s Brewery in Fredericton. They are expanding beyond Canada with the Hekla Hotel in Brooklyn, New York.
Adair has recruited a number of young architects to Saint John to join her practice comprised of seven full-time employees—a tremendous and very rare achievement that attests to New Brunswick’s potential and future design objectives. With only 11 architects under the age of 40 in the province, and an association with fewer than 75 provincial members, it is critical to the cultural growth and leadership to build the talent and ambitions of young professionals on the East Coast. An active mentor to junior high and high-school students, Adair meets with them as a guide to foster their interest in architecture, and she has partnered with local schools to give young students an opportunity to office-shadow. As a postsecondary educator, Adair held McGill University’s Gerald Sheff Visiting Professorship in Architecture in 2010, where she and Kopp were the recipients of the Gerald Sheff Award for part-time teaching, which recognizes outstanding teaching by part-time faculty in the School of Architecture. Believing in the importance of lecturing to help disseminate and build renewed confidence in architecture on the East Coast, she has spoken frequently at McGill University, the Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Maine, Judson University in Chicago, and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Adair embodies the spirit of an individual who, as the award’s purpose states, “inspires other young architects to become licensed and to strive for excellence in their work.”
Wishing to play an active part in making big ideas come to life, Adair accepted a volunteer position on the Saint John Waterfront Development Board. As an opportunity to play a role in providing strategic direction, policy and governance processes for major urban projects, Adair offers a critical and informed position on how to move important urban projects forward with care for architectural excellence.
Adair has also played a public role and contributed to the voice of architectural advocacy and promotion through media as well. She was featured on a the W Network television series Majumder Manor after winning the design competition to design an eco-lux hotel in comedian Shaun Majumder’s hometown of Burlington, Newfoundland. They were guest writers for the network’s television website where they touched on topics of building meaning and encouraging building identities beyond sentimentality on the East Coast.
Monica has an impressive CV containing significant academic and work experience for a young practitioner. The consistent quality of her project work, commitment to her hometown and her work in the arts community is complemented by her teaching, advocacy, and contribution to regional collaboration in Atlantic Canada.