On May 19, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canada Council for the Arts announced the 2016 winners of the Governor General's Medals in Architecture. The prestigious award, handed out every two years, recognizes outstanding projects completed by Canadian architects across the country, which are seen as exemplary projects for design excellence. This year, out of the 12 recipients selected, four projects are located in the GTA, and are designed by local Toronto architecture firms. Below is a list of the 12 recipients of the Governor General's Medals.

1. Bridgepoint Active Healthcare (Toronto, Ontario)

The high-profile Bridgepoint Hospital overlooking the Don Valley has already won a slew of awards, and continues to be recognized as the new standard for healthcare facilities. Designed in consortium with Stantec Architecture and KPMB Architects as Planning, Compliance, and Design Architects, and HDR Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects as Design, Build, Finance, and Maintain Architects, the project is lauded not only for its environmentally-friendly LEED Silver rating, but also for its adaptive reuse of a heritage site and its emphasis on patient well-being. With therapeutic connections and magnificent views both to the surrounding nature and to the city, the Bridgepoint Hospital is regarded as a stellar example of how design can impact, and improve, our general health and well-being.

Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, image courtesy of the RAIC.

2. Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization (Toronto, Ontario)

Another high-profile Toronto project has received recognition, this time for the delicate transformation of Nathan Phillips Square, the city's most iconic public space. After winning an international competition, local firm PLANT Architect with Perkins + Will has implemented the revitalization project in phases over the past few years, which included a new stage and concession stand, a new green roof atop the City Hall podium, and the relocation of the Peace Gardens. The jury praised the project's sensitivity to Viljo Revell's landmark Modernist structure, recognizing that the revitalization not only enhanced the original design of the space, but also "created one of the most outstanding public spaces in Canada".

It is important to note, however, that more changes may be coming to Nathan Phillips Square, as not all of the proposed phases of the project have been built out. No news has surfaced of late about these later phases, which include further public realm improvements and a new restaurant in the southwest corner, but the iconic plaza may soon continue its transformation into a world-class public space.

The stage added as part of the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image courtesy of the RAIC.

3. Regent Park Aquatic Centre (Toronto, Ontario)

MJMA's Regent Park Aquatic Centre has received plenty of attention since its opening in 2012, and much-deserved at that. The sleek black structure is the centrepiece of the Regent Park revitalization, and has been an instant success in the rejuvenated neighbourhood, replacing an outdoor pool that was a popular amenity in the community. The jury was impressed with the design and openness of the building, praising its sensitivity to its surroundings and pavilion-like atmosphere.

The Regent Park Aquatic Centre, image courtesy of the RAIC.

4. Wong Dai Sin Temple (Markham, Ontario)

Chalking up another Governor General's Medal, the highly regarded firm of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects has received recognition for their Taoist temple in Markham. The small, yet dramatic building features striking angles of corten steel breaking up its cantilevered rectangular volume. Impressing the jury with its conceptual clarity, the building represents the equilibrium of a tai chi pose through its asymmetry and counterbalance of volumes, using dynamic structural forms and a simple material palette.

Wong Dai Sin Temple, image courtesy of RAIC.

The remainder of the award winners, located across the country from coast to coast, are as follows:

5. Amphithéâtre Cogeco (Trois-Rivières, Québec): Paul Laurendeau & François R. Beauchesne

6. BC Passive House Factory (Vancouver, BC): Hemsworth Architecture

7. Glacier Skywalk (Jasper, Alberta): Sturgess Architecture

8. Halifax Central Library (Halifax, Nova Scotia): Fowler, Bauld & Mitchell Ltd.

9. Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon (Vancouver, BC): Michael Green Architecture (project begun by Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture & Design)

10. The Head Office of Caisse Desjardins de Lévis (Lévis, Québec): ABCP Architecture & Anne Carrier Architecture

11. University of Manitoba ARTlab (Winnipeg, Manitoba): Patkau Architects & LM Architectural Group

12. Wood Innovation and Design Centre (Prince George, BC): Michael Green Architecture

Amphithéâtre Cogeco, image courtesy of the RAIC.

The 2016 jury was comprised of five prominent architects and academics:

• Annmarie Adams, FRAIC – William C. Macdonald Professor, McGill University School of Architecture (Montreal, Canada)

• Vanessa Miriam Carlow – Founder, COBE Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

• Gary Hack – Dean Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania School of Design (Philadelphia, USA)

• Richard Henriquez, FRAIC – Founding Partner, Henriquez Partners Architects (Vancouver, Canada)

• Todd Saunders – Principal, Saunders Architecture (Bergen, Norway)

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at Rideau Hall on September 20, 2016.

Glacier Skywalk, image courtesy of the RAIC.

You can find out more about the winning projects and firms by following the dataBase links below, or you can read the jury comments and a brief description of each project on the RAIC's website, here. Want to get in on the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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