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About the OAA Awards

Past and Present

The annual OAA Awards program was established in 1988 and offers Ontario architects, students and interns an opportunity to showcase their best work and increase public appreciation of the services provided by the architectural profession.

The Awards highlights the best in architectural design and innovation by Ontario Architects. Winners of the OAA Awards include both emerging talent and some of the provinces' most established architecture practices. 

Award recipients are honoured at the annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Ceremony that takes place in May.


Over the years, several awards have been introduced, others sunset, reflecting the introduction of new technologies and business practices, but the majority of the awards have evolved to better reflect the changing profession and its relevance to society.

Throughout the program, the Awards have moved toward increased public awareness and participation.

The Evolution of the program and significant milestones:

1985: The Order of da Vinci (highest honour) introduced.

1988: Reintroduced a full awards program.

1990: Architectural Excellence Awards and Residential Design Awards
Alternate every second year.

1992: New awards added: Allied Arts, Community Service and Plachta

1995: Ideas & Presentations Awards & 25 Year Award added;
rotating with Design Excellence & Plachta Award every second year.

1998: Comprehensive awards introduced: all awards (Design  Excellence+ Concepts and Presentations).

1999: First Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation joint with AIA Michigan in Windsor, ON.

2000: Program review

2001: Program redesigned – comprehensive and updated (business awards: good design is good business
Audio Visual presentation introduced.

2002: Website award launched (Ideas & Presentations)

2004: Intern Architect (Design Excellence) Award added
break out business awards: Entrepreneurial Practice, Innovative practice, Good Design is Good Business.

2006: Program Review
Abolish categories for Design Excellence.
Abolish 3 business awards: launch: Good design is Good Business.

2007: New program implemented in two phases 2007/2008.
Create “Best Emerging Practice” award launched (eliminate Website; can now be included under Concepts and Presentations)
G. Randy Roberts Service Award launched.

2008: People’s Choice Award launched.
Online submission forms for each category.

2009: Best in Show award launched.

2010: Allied Arts award eliminated.

2011: Lifetime Design Achievement Award launched.
5 criteria for Design Excellence Awards -- requested in submission.

2012: Service & Landmark Award submissions remain on file for 3 years.

2013: Design Excellence Award criteria extended to include projects designed by Ontario Architects located outside the province of Ontario
Crystal Awards established as the standard for all award categories.

2014: Sustainable Design Excellence Award launched.

Concepts & Presentations Award category changed to "Concepts", Image categoy removed.

2015: Design Excellence Awards decreases from 15 to 10. (Honourable Mentions) added to the Design Excellence category.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Design Excellence in Architecture launched replacing the Best in Show award.

2016: The Design Excellence category increases to 20 Finalists of which 10 are deemed winners. 

2017: Launch of Online Submissions

2018: The Awards program changed to a two-year cycle with Design Excellence and career achievement awards celebrated in even-numbered years and a new Challenge program introduced in odd-numbered years. 

Concepts, Sustainable Design and Landmark Awards were sunset.

2019: Launch of the SHIFT Challenge Program. The Theme for 2019 was Infrastructure.