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43CE - Quality-Based Procurement for Public Architecture

24 May 2018 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

1.5 ConEd Learning Hours

Fifty years after Canada’s Centennial, it is natural to compare the public patronage of architecture in the 1960s with today’s procurement for public buildings. On the positive side, there is increased transparency in public sector commissions. But on the flip side, the interpretation of Ontario’s public-sector procurement rules has created unnecessary barriers to achieving architectural design quality and long-lasting value.

In this session, directors of architecture studios across Ontario and representatives from public-sector agencies will share insights from their different perspectives as well as best practices from Ontario and across Canada. Panelists and session participants will be invited to take part in a discussion to share experiences and ideas for how to improve public sector procurement for architecture in Ontario, and what guidelines for commissioning architects and building architecture could be put in place. For more information, see the July 2017 Canadian Architect article, “Why Canada Needs a Public Architecture Policy” by Helena Grdadolnik.

Learning Objectives

  1. Build awareness of different approaches available for procurement of architecture for public buildings.
  2. Learn best practices and case studies in Ontario and Canada for procurement of architecture for public buildings.
  3. Share experiences and procurement practices from both sides of the table (client and architecture firm).
  4. Discuss how architects and public-sector project managers can successfully implement, or advocate for, quality-based procurement of architecture.


Helena Grdadolnik, B.E.S., M.Arch., FRAIC, Toon Dreessen, OAA, FRAIC, AIA, LEED AP, Marianne McKenna, OC, FRAIC, OAA, AIA, Beth Kapusta, and Gilbert Delgado, FAIA

Helena Grdadolnik is a director of Toronto-based studio Workshop Architecture (recipients of the 2013 OAA Best Emerging Practice Award), leading the firm’s urban design and cultural projects. She has close to 20 years of experience advocating for architecture within practice, within public sector agencies and non-profits including working for the Manifesto Foundation for Architecture in Edinburgh; as a senior architectural advisor at CABE, the UK government’s advisor on architecture and public space in England; as a cultural planner for the City of Mississauga; and as a director of an architectural practice with a focus on commercial and public sector projects. Helena has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA), and a guest critic at the Universities of British Columbia, Waterloo and Toronto. She is the co-author of two books: Towards an Ethical Architecture and The Contemporary Canadian Metropolis

Toon Dreessen is a graduate of Carleton University and recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi graduation medal. He became a member of the OAA and a member of the Architecture Canada (RAIC) in 2005. Toon is a certified LEED AP and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He is president of Dreessen Cardinal Architects Inc, a 14-person Ottawa-based practice serving the Ottawa and Ottawa Valley region, with a company history going back more than 40 years. As the face of the company, he responsible for ensuring excellence in the quality of the work and continues to ensure ongoing ISO 9001 certification. He leads the company in project development and is responsible for award-winning projects in infill development, as well as laboratory, research, industrial and high-profile projects. Toon began volunteering with the OAA in 2006, serving six years on the Practice Committee. He was a member of the OAA Council from 2012 to 2017, serving on numerous committees, including representing the shareholder interests as a board member of Pro-Demnity Insurance, VP Communications, SVP-Treasurer and President 2015-2016. In 2016, Toon was honored with membership in the RAIC College of Fellows.

A founding partner of KPMB Architects, Marianne McKenna has directed a diverse range of projects in the spheres of culture, education and business. Her award-winning projects include the Rotman School of Management, the renewal of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, the Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning and Koerner Concert Hall and the Kellogg School of Management. She is currently working on the revitalization of historic Massey Hall and a new home for The Brearley School in New York. She was the Lord Norman R. Foster Visiting Professor at Yale University in 2016 and she serves on the Board of Metrolinx. Marianne is an Officer of the Order of Canada for “designing structures that enrich the public realm.”

Beth Kapusta is a Toronto-based consultant and writer. In 2014 she founded Metrolinx’s Design Excellence program, charting a vision to elevate the quality and customer focus of design across the agency’s transit projects. Her city-building efforts included shaping complex AFP initiatives: the $6-billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the $1B East Rail Maintenance Facility in Whitby, and the controversial Davenport Diamond elevated guideway and greenway. She has been involved in numerous competitions that reflect her passion for Toronto’s urban landscape, including June Callwood Park, HTO Park, and Sugar Beach. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Waterloo in 1991.

Gilbert Delgado is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), promoting architect selection processes leading to excellent architectural design. Since the late 1990s, he has been a primary spokesperson and advocate for the award-winning Design Excellence Program developed within the United States General Services Administration (GSA). As Cornell’s University Architect, he employed these principles to ensure that new additions to both the Ithaca and New York City campuses maintain the highest standards of design quality. In 2016, he moved to Toronto to serve as the University of Toronto’s Chief of Planning, Design and Construction.