Two architects who have compiled a long list of accomplishments since graduating from the University of Waterloo added to it this week with a prestigious award from a national organization.

Brigitte Shim and A. Howard Sutcliffe, who met at Waterloo and graduated together from the School of Architecture in 1983, were named the winners of the 2021 Gold Medal by the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC).

Awarded annually by the RAIC, a not-for-profit group that has represented architects and architecture for more than 100 years, the medal is its highest honour, recognizing a significant and lasting contribution to Canadian architecture.

“Brigitte and Howard are architect’s architects,” architect Brian MacKay-Lyons wrote in a media release. “In my view, theirs is one of the few Canadian architectural firms whose work consistently enjoys the respect of the architectural community worldwide.”

Personal and professional partners

A couple as well as the founding partners of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects in Toronto, they both earned degrees at Waterloo in environmental studies in 1981 before going on to study architecture. They have been professional collaborators ever since.

Shim and Sutcliffe have won 15 Governor General’s Medals for Architecture, made the Order of Canada together in 2013 and received the Team Alumni Achievement Medal from Waterloo Engineering in 2011.

Celebrated projects by the duo include their own residence, the Laneway House, and the Robertson Davies Library in Toronto. They are currently working on projects in North America, Russia and Hong Kong.

In addition to other qualities, their work is distinguished by meticulous attention to detail.

“By their relentless pursuit of excellence, Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe have produced a significant body of exceptional design works covering architecture, landscape, interior, furniture and hardware—all developed to an incredibly high standard, with craft, rigour, sense of place, and mastery of proportions,” commented one of the award judges.