Brian MacKay-Lyons

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Brian MacKay-Lyons
Born (1954-08-26) 26 August 1954 (age 63)
Arcadia, Nova Scotia, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Architect
Awards Governor General's Medal for architecture, RAIC Gold Medal[1]
Buildings Dalhousie Faculty of Computer Science (1999), Ship's Company Theatre, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia (2004) and the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2005)

Brian Mackay-Lyons (born 26 August 1954[2]) is a Canadian architect best known for his designs for houses on the coast of his native Nova Scotia and his use of Atlantic Canadian vernacular materials and construction techniques.

Early life and education[edit]

Mackay-Lyons was born of part-Acadian heritage in Arcadia, on the French Shore of southwest Nova Scotia and was strongly influenced by the region's maritime landscape, architecture and functionalist design. He studied architecture at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (graduating 1978) and received his Master's in Architecture and Urban Design from the University of California, Los Angeles. He also studied and worked in China, Japan and Siena, Italy.[3]


In 1983, Mackay-Lyons returned to Nova Scotia to work on vernacular designs and teach at Dalhousie University, where he holds a full professorship in architecture. He founded his own practice in Halifax in 1985 and in 2005 this became Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd after he partnered with Talbot Sweetapple. He has also held numerous visiting academic positions at universities in the USA, Canada and Germany. He is a five-time winner of the Governor General's Medal for architecture, fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects.[4]

Best known for his rural homes on the coast of Nova Scotia, Mackay-Lyons has increasingly undertaken a number of larger public commissions since the late 1990s, including the Dalhousie Faculty of Computer Science (1999), Ship's Company Theatre, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia (2004) and the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2005).[5]

In 1994, Mackay-Lyons began an educational summer design-build program on his family farm near Kingsburg, Nova Scotia entitled the Ghost Architectural Laboratory. As of 2013 the program is no longer taking place, although architecture-related conferences are sometimes held at the same location in the summer. Ghost was formerly described[6] as an education initiative designed to promote the transfer of architectural knowledge through direct experience - project-based learning taught in the master builder tradition - with emphasis on issues of landscape, material culture, and community.



  1. ^ "Brian MacKay-Lyons wins 2015 RAIC Gold Medal". Canadian Architect. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Monteyne, David; Boutin, Marc (17 April 2011). "Brian Mackay-Lyons". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Malcolm Quantrill, Plain Modern: The architecture of Brian Mackay-Lyons (Princeton Architectural Press: Princeton, NJ, 2005)
  6. ^

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