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OAA Announces the Five Selections for the SHIFT2021 Resiliency/Architecture Challenge

Online Event to Showcase How Architectural Thinking Supports Resiliency

TORONTO, ON – This last year has asked us all to be resilient. The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has tested our resilience as individuals, as professionals, as families, and as community members. As we confront this and other pressing global challenges, the Ontario Association of Architects’ (OAA) biennial SHIFT Challenge event celebrates five ideas that exemplify how architectural thinking is uniquely positioned to respond to the critical concept of resiliency.

As part of its Virtual Conference Week, the OAA will host a FREE event next month to recognize a selection of innovative ideas submitted by active OAA members, which push the limits of what’s possible and inspire positive societal change. As shapers of the built environment, members were asked to explore the intersection of architecture and resiliency, be it physical, economic, environmental, cultural, social, virtual, or spiritual. Whether in a literal sense or in a figurative one, the concept of resiliency involves flexibility, inherent strength, and elasticity. It is a quality in objects to hold or recover their shape; it is an ability in people to stay intact in the face of challenges or to rebound quickly from difficulty. The goal was to propose innovative, yet practical and feasible ideas that advance design thinking at scales from small spaces to entire ecosystems.

The online event, open to the public through the OAA’s YouTube channel, begins at 4:30 pm on Thursday, May 20 with short introductions of each of the five ideas selected by this year’s jury of design and planning experts.

The honorees for this year’s SHIFT Challenge are:

  • Temporary Foreign Worker Communities: This holistic design approach illustrates the possibilities for healthy, nurturing, and adaptable living spaces for those responsible for helping ensure Ontario’s food supply (team led by architect Gordon Stratford).

  • Mining Scars of Single Industry Communities: The Lakeshore Basin: The phased remediation of a mining basin in Kirkland Lake, Ont., shows how to transform an industry relic into a sustainable and thriving community resource (team led by intern architect Holly Sutton).

  • Ontario Place: On-to-our Next Adventure: This plan to preserve the provincial landmark public space supports the needs of a new generation of communities (team members M.Arch candidates Erman AkyolVictoria Cardoso and Eugenia Wong).

  • K-Town: A Future: A bottom-up approach to revitalizing diaspora commercial strips in urban areas while maximizing multi-use opportunities (team led by architect Steven Fong).

  • The Mini-Midrise: The mini-midrise: A new prototype of midrise buildings on single, smaller lots that reimagines how this typology can be implemented on our cities' main streets. (Team led by Architect Naama Blonder).

Additional online events that showcase the individual SHIFT ideas, as well as a special digital publication, are planned for the fall. To learn more about previous participants or find out how to participate in future SHIFT Architecture Challenges, please visit or check out our YouTube channel for interviews with past participants.

To learn more about the OAA Conference, click here.

Further Information
Members of the teams behind the five SHIFT2021 selections and OAA President Susan Speigel may be available for phone or email interviews. Additional information on each of the SHIFT submissions, as well as the program itself, along with high-resolution photos, may also be available. Please contact: Erik Missio, OAA Communications Manager 416-449-6898, ext. 241

About the Ontario Association of Architects
The Ontario Association of Architects is a self-regulating organization under the Architects Act, a statute of the Government of Ontario. It is dedicated to promoting and increasing the knowledge, skill, and proficiency of its members, and administering the Act, in order that the public interest may be served and protected. This year, its Council set three focuses—the Planet, the People, and the Profession—to encompass such topics as education, climate stability, and a lens of equity, diversity, and inclusivity when examining OAA initiatives and programs. For more information on the Association, visit

About the SHIFT Challenge
The SHIFT Architecture Challenge is an aspirational, biennial Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) program created to highlight the distinct contribution architects and architectural thinking bring to addressing key societal issues. It invites members—including Architects, Licensed Technologists OAA, Intern Architects, and Student Associates—and their collaborative teams to respond to an identified area of concern using their skills and insights. The program runs biennially, having begun with the SHIFT 2019 Infrastructure/Architecture Challenge. For more information, visit

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