Patkau Architects

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Patkau Architects
Practice information
Key architectsJohn Patkau
Patricia Patkau
Greg Boothroyd
David Shone
LocationVancouver B.C. Canada
Significant works and honors
ProjectsUniversity of Toronto Academic Wood Tower
Capilano Library
Temple of Light
Audain Art Museum
Hadaway House
Awards2019 Canadian Wood Council Design Innovation Award
2019 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence
2019 Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Medal in Architecture
2019 AIBC Innovation Award
Canadian Architect Award of Merit

Patkau Architects is an architecture firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is a full-service firm practicing in Canada and the United States. Its project scope includes, but is not limited to, gallery installations, art galleries, libraries, university buildings, urban planning and private residences.[1] The firm has received numerous national and international architectural awards.[1][2][3][4] Patkau Architects also represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2006.[5]

The work of Patkau Architects has been widely disseminated, with three volumes devoted to the firm's output, several essays in scholarly publications, and inclusion in international exhibitions. They have also published their own book entitled Patkau Architects: Material Operations' [6] in 2017 that discusses the firm's beliefs and techniques through materials and unconventional practices.


John and Patricia Patkau[edit]

John and Patricia Patkau were both born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, John on August 18, 1947 and Patricia on February 25, 1950. They met while they were both working towards an undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba where John graduated with a bachelor's degree in arts and environmental studies in 1969 and Patricia graduated with a bachelor of interior design in 1973. They both went on to receive their Masters of Architecture, John continued at the University of Manitoba in 1973 and Patricia completed hers at Yale University in 1978.[7]

Patkau Architects[edit]

The firm was founded by spouses John Patkau and Patricia Patkau in Edmonton, Alberta in 1978. It was relocated to Vancouver in 1984. Michael Cunningham was the third principal from 1995 until departing from the firm in 2010.[8] As of 2014 the firm has a total staff of 20, including four principals: John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, Greg Boothroyd and David Shone.[1] Patkau Architects has been one of the pioneers in using wood within the architectural industry and have received seven wood design awards starting in 1984.[9]

Both Patricia Patkau and John Patkau are fellows of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, honorary fellows of the American Institute of Architects and of the Royal Institute of British Architects, members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art, and members of the Order of Canada.[10][11]

Design approach[edit]

The firm's work has been noted for drawing on the principles of modern architecture that is also inspired by the natural setting and traditions of Canada's West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. Their designs are known for their sculptural quality, multifaceted expression of material, comfort, and clear delineation of detail.[12][13] Patkau Architects draw inspiration from the natural environment and are currently pushing the limitations of wood in architecture.[14] Their drive to pull as much from nature as possible has led them towards innovation in ways further than just using natural materials like wood; in the Temple of Light specifically, they used "light" as a primary building material.[15] Architectural historian-theorist Kenneth Frampton has described the firm's work as "very close to what I attempted to define in 1983 as Critical Regionalism."[16]

Notable projects[edit]

University of Toronto Academic Wood Tower[edit]

Patkau Architects, alongside MJMA, designed a 15 storey wooden tower for the University of Toronto located in Toronto, Ontario to be used for classrooms and offices. It is designed to be 80 meters tall which will make it North America's tallest structural timber building.[17] The entire structure of the tower is constructed using glu-laminated mass timber, some of which is left exposed to draw attention to the construction method.[17] The design is hoping to create precedent for future mass timber construction as the zoning for height restrictions of tall wood buildings is being challenged in order to complete the project.[18]

Capilano Library[edit]

The Capilano Library is a 10,000 square foot,[19] all black, linear form with a statement roof that has multiple sharp undulations with a softer, wooden clad underside located in Edmonton, Alberta commissioned as a new branch for the Edmonton library. The library contains a children's area and a community room for meetings and events alongside the main library programming.[20]

Temple of Light[edit]

Audain Art Museum

The original Temple of Light, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, burnt down in June 2014.[21] For the redesign, in order to bring nature and the sacred into the temple as much as possible, Patkau Architects created "portals of light"[15] that extend from the oculus at the top throughout the entire height of the space. The form is made up of complex, petal-like shapes and was accomplished by fabricating panels off-site to be assembled together on the building site.[22]

Audain Art Museum[edit]

The Audain Art Museum is a 56,000 square foot, two storey museum located in Whistler, British Columbia that houses Michael Audain's personal art collection.[23] The museum is located on a flood plain at the base of Whistler Mountain, so the structure is raised one full storey on piers to avoid the flooding and implements a seismic system, steel trusses, prefabricated wood panels and handles cantilevers. A steel structural system was used to handle the large cantilevers.[23]

Hadaway House[edit]

Hadaway House

Hadaway House is a private residence in Whistler, British Columbia. The shape of the house was designed based on the size and height restrictions of the area, as well as the need to shed snow off the roof.[24] Whistler has very strict zoning regulations, so the design was started with the envelope instead of being designed from the inside out under normal circumstances.[25] The construction of the house brings together various systems; it uses a concrete slab system with steel and heavy timber framing.[24] These systems were all used in tandem to create the most efficient system overall to counteract the intense seismic and snow loads.[25]

List of projects[edit]


  • 2019: Trail's End House
  • 2013: Hadaway House
  • 2012: Tula House
  • 2011: Mishrifah Villa
  • Unrealized: Cottages at Fallingwater
  • 2009: Linear House
  • Prototype: Prototype Cottage
  • 2000: Agosta House
  • 2000: Shaw House
  • 1998: La Petite Maison du Weekend
  • 1993: Barnes House
  • 1987: Porter-Vanderbosch Renovation
  • 1986: Appleton House
  • 1984: Patkau House
  • 1983: Pyrch House


  • Current: Academic Wood Tower University of Toronto
  • 2014: Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport
  • 2012: Daegu Gosan Public Library
  • 2012: ARTLab
  • 2009: Beaty Biodiversity Center & Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory
  • 2005: Winnipeg Millennium Library
  • 2005: Centre for Music Art and Design at University of Manitoba
  • 2005: La Grande Bibliotheque du Quebec
  • 1996: Nursing and Biomedical Sciences Building at the Texas Medical Center
  • 1995: Strawberry Vale Elementary School
  • 1995: Emily Carr College of Art & Design
  • 1992: Newton Library
  • 1991: Seabird Island School


  • Current: Thunder Bay Art Gallery
  • 2018: Capilano Library
  • 2017: Temple of Light
  • 2017: Polygon Gallery
  • 2016: Audain Art Museum
  • 2012: Fort York National Historic Site Visitors Centre
  • 2012: Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church
  • 2012: Rift
  • 2012: Cocoons
  • 2011: Onefold
  • Suspended: Marpole-Oakridge Community Center
  • 2011: Winnipeg Scating Shelters
  • 2011: Gleneagles Community Center
  • 1999: Air Canada International Arrivals Lounge
  • 1992: Newton Library
  • 1992: Canadian Clay and Glass Library


The firm has been the recipient of at least one architectural design award per year in every year but three since 1981. These awards include fifteen Governor General's Awards and Medals in Architecture,[26][27][28] eight Architectural Institute of British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor's Awards,[29] thirteen Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, awards from the American Institute of Architects, Canadian Architect magazine, and various national and international design competitions.[10] Most recently, they were awarded the Canadian Wood Council design innovation award for the Temple of Light in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia, Canada.[30]


There are three published books based on their career, including two self-written books. Each publication documents different projects representing different time periods of Patkau Architects’ growth.

Biographical publications[edit]

Patkau Architects: projects, 1978-1990 by Andrew Gruft[edit]

Andrew Gruft published his essay on Patkau Architects in 1990. The essay catalogs an exhibition that the University of British Columbia's Fine Arts Gallery held in late 1990.[31]

Patkau Architects by Brian Carter[edit]

Brian Carter wrote the book Patkau Architects: Selected Projects 1983-1994[32] which was published in 1994 and highlights their earlier works. This book covers 10 of Patkau Architects's projects that were at the forefront of innovation at the time.

Patkau Architects by Kenneth Frampton[edit]

Kenneth Frampton wrote his book Patkau Architects in 2006. The book reviews seventeen projects of all different categories including cultural and institutional, schools and residential.[14]

Projects Mentioned[14][edit]
  • Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery
  • National Library of Quebec in Montreal
  • Winnipeg Centennial Library addition
  • Gleneagles Community Center
  • North by Northwest
  • Nursing and Biomedical Sciences Building at the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center
  • New College House Student Residence at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Seabird Island School
  • Strawberry Vale School
  • Newton Library
  • Shaw House
  • Petite Maison du Weekend
  • Prototype Cottage
  • Agosta House
  • Barnes House
  • Little House

Self-written publications[edit]

Patkau Architects: Material Operations[edit]

Patkau Architects wrote their book "Patkau Architects: Material Operations" and published it on the Princeton Architectural Press in New York in 2017.[6] It goes into depth about the philosophy and techniques that drive the firm's designs.[33]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Architectural Institute of BC". Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  2. ^ Patkau Architects chosen to design new Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver Sun, January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  3. ^ "John and Patricia Patkau: The Architectural Outsiders". Vancouver Magazine. Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  4. ^ Rochon, Lisa (2012-05-11). "Five medal-winning houses to write home about". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  5. ^ MIT Architecture, Altered Trajectories, Patricia Patkau. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  6. ^ a b Patkau Architects (2017). Patkau Architects: Material Operations. Princetono Architectural Press. ISBN 9781616895709.
  7. ^ "John and Patricia Patkau | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  8. ^ John and Patricia Patkau, The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2014-01-15
  9. ^ "Architectural Institute of BC". Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  10. ^ a b John and Patricia Patkau - Patkau Architects, Canadian Architect, May 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  11. ^ Festival of Architecture and Forum to feature 2009 RAIC Gold Medalists, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, March 29, 2009 Archived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  12. ^ Introduction, "Patkau Architects". The Monacelli Press (June 8, 2006). ISBN 1580931693
  13. ^ Carefoot, L. (1999). An interview with John Patkau: A West Coast perspective from a British Columbia architect. School Libraries in Canada, 19(1), 13-14.
  14. ^ a b c Frampton, Kenneth (1997). "Patricia and John Patkau. Tecto-Totemic Form: A Note on Patkau Associates". Perspecta. 28: 180–189. doi:10.2307/1567202. ISSN 0079-0958. JSTOR 1567202.
  15. ^ a b Johnson, Will. "Ashram's temple rises from the ashes". Daily Townsman.
  16. ^ Author Q&A with Kenneth Frampton: Five North American Architects, Designers & Books, August 23, 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  17. ^ a b "ACADEMIC WOOD TOWER". The Canadian Architect. 64 (12): 28–29. December 2019 – via ProQuest.
  18. ^ "U of T announces 14-storey wood tower". Daily Commercial News. Vol. 91, no. 98. Markham. May 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Goldenberg, Mitch (10 May 2017). "Capilano Library breaks ground; Accessibility highlights new $11.8-million branch opening next year". Edmonton Examiner.
  20. ^ Bozikovik, Alex (May 2019). "With Edmonton library, Patkau Architects gets to the point: Newly opened Capilano branch is a bold, eye-grabbing project that sees first-rank builders honing their sharpest sensibilities". The Globe and Mail.
  21. ^ "Yasodhara Ahsram on Kootenay Lake planning rebuild of Temple of Light". Daily Townsman. January 2019.
  22. ^ Eckersley, Lorne (March 26, 2019). "Ashram temple wins design award". Creston Valley Advance.
  23. ^ a b Karsh, J. Eric; Danzig, Ilana (February 2017). "The Audain Art Museum in Whistler, BC, Canada". Structural Engineering International. 27 (1): 59–62. doi:10.2749/101686617x14676303588913. ISSN 1016-8664. S2CID 114802450.
  24. ^ a b "HADADWAY HOUSE". Canadian Architect. 53 (12). December 2008 – via ProQuest.
  25. ^ a b Girfin, Katie (March 2015). "Hadaway House". Residential Architect: 24.
  26. ^ Governor General's Medals in Architecture 2014 Recipients. Retrieved 2017-07-14
  27. ^ Governor General’s Medals in Architecture - Past Recipients. Retrieved 2017-11-17
  28. ^ Governor General’s Medals in Architecture. Retrieved 2014-04-29
  29. ^ AIBC Lieutenant‐Governor of British Columbia Awards in Architecture, recipients 2002-2012. Retrieved 2014-01-16
  30. ^ "2019 WOOD DESIGN AWARDS - WINNER Wood Innovation" (PDF). Wood Design Awards in BC. woodWORKS! Program of the Canadian Wood Council. 2019. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  31. ^ Andrew, Gruft (1990). Patkau Architects : projects, 1978-1990. Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia. ISBN 0888652844.
  32. ^ Carter, Brian, 1942- (2005). Patkau Architects. TUNS Press. ISBN 0-929112-28-8. OCLC 85895105.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Architects, Patkau (2017-06-06). Patkau Architects: Material Operations. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-61689-570-9.