Building Magazine


RAIC honours Brian MacKay-Lyons with 2015 Gold Medal

A Nova Scotia architect, whose internationally acclaimed buildings are grounded in the design and construction traditions of East Coast architecture, is the 2015 recipient of the RAIC Gold Medal.

Brian MacKay-Lyons, FRAIC, is a founding partner of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, based in Halifax, NS. He is also a professor at Dalhousie University and the founder of Ghost Lab, an educational program that took place on his family farm during the summers of 1994 to 2011. His work has been recognized by more than 100 awards, 300 publications, and 100 exhibitions.

The Gold Medal is the highest honour the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) can bestow.  It recognizes a significant and lasting contribution to Canadian architecture. A five-member jury selected Mr. MacKay-Lyons.

“His work is universally recognized as pure, dignified, poetic and beautiful,” said the jury. “His work comes from an intimate connection with his communities.”

Best-known for houses, Mr. MacKay-Lyons has also designed university and commercial buildings. Projects include the Canadian Chancery and Official Residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Computer Science Building and the Architecture School at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and the Plaza building at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON.

“It is a great honour to be recognized by one’s peers,” said Mr. MacKay-Lyons. “In an increasingly globalized world it’s nice to reaffirm a way of making architecture about place – its landscape, climate and material culture.

“The RAIC Gold Medal is all the more meaningful because it recognizes a body of work rather than the fashion of the day,” he said. 

After studying and working around the world, Mr. MacKay-Lyons returned to Nova Scotia in 1983 to make a cultural contribution to Nova Scotia where his Acadian and Mi’kmaq ancestors have lived for centuries.

The jury called him an “an authentic and original voice in the development of a contemporary expression of traditional regional architecture.”

Jury members also cited a consistent level of excellence. “He continues as a major influence on current and future generations of architects.”

The Gold Medal will be presented at a ceremony at the RAIC/AAA Festival of Architecture, which takes place in Calgary June 3 to 6.

The jury members were Peter Busby, FRAIC, Past Gold Medalist; Paule Boutin, AP/FIRAC, RAIC Past President; Tyler Sharp, MRAIC, Past Recipient of the Young Architect Award; Siamak Hariri, FRAIC, and Martin Houle, MIRAC, founder of the architecture website

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *