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January 14, 2018

Laurentian University welcomes Dr. David Fortin as next Director of the McEwen School of Architecture

Laurentian University is pleased to welcome Dr. David Fortin as the next Director of the McEwen School of Architecture (MSoA). Dr. Fortin, a faculty member at the MSoA, assumed his new duties at the beginning of January, 2018, taking over from the school’s Founding Director, Dr. Terrance Galvin, who successfully led the creation and development of the MSoA since its inauguration in 2012.

“It is truly an honour to have been chosen to lead our country’s newest architecture school,” said Dr. Fortin. “The unique vision for this school, one deeply grounded in celebrating place, culture, and community through design, has always inspired me as these are the principles that ground technological innovation and creativity towards a future we all want to live in.”

A member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, Dr. Fortin is the first Indigenous director of a Canadian architecture school. He is also a Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (MRAIC) and a registered architect, having worked with various professional firms in Calgary. He has taught design, history, and theory in the UK, USA, and Canada, including study abroad courses in Kenya and South America, and currently teaches a class exploring the impact of climate change on design. Dr. Fortin currently focuses on Indigenous design in contemporary architecture and is co-curator for a team of Indigenous architects (UNCEDED) representing Canada at the world-renowned 2018 Venice Biennale competition in Italy.

“I feel privileged to lead a school that does what no other architecture school in Canada does,” said Dr. Fortin. “Our students learn through hands-on experience and direct community engagement. Furthermore, they are guided by Indigenous teachings and the highest level professional standards, to design buildings and communities in cold climates worldwide, by incorporating innovative uses of wood and developing appropriate sustainable strategies.”

“The McEwen School is rooted in northern landscapes and northern communities and our teachings have always been an important part of its curriculum,” said Douglas Cardinal, world-renowned architect known for designing structures inspired by his Indigenous roots. “Having a person such as David who has experience with both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous perspectives can only result in a positive force towards reconciliation for future generations of architects.”

Since its launch in 2012, the MSoA has not just changed its students, but also communities in Northern Ontario. Its students have worked closely with numerous communities on projects such as seniors housing in Chapleau, ice fishing huts in Sudbury and a health centre for Batchewana First Nation.

Founding Director, Dr. Terrance Galvin will continue to teach and play an active role in the MSoA’s future. Under Dr. Galvin’s leadership, the MSoA became the first new school of architecture to open in Canada in over 40 years, eventually moving into its award-winning building in downtown Sudbury, and attracting students and staff whose work has already received national and international acclaim.

Under Terrance’s leadership, the School also received a $10 million gift in support of its vision from philanthropists Rob and Cheryl McEwen. In addition to teaching the next generation of Canadian architects, Dr. Galvin continues to lead the School’s application for initial accreditation with the Canadian Architectural Certification Board and working with the Walking With Our Sisters organization in Sudbury to design their commemorative art exhibit for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Canada and the USA. Speaking of his six years as Founding Director, Dr. Galvin said, “I am proud of our diverse approach to working with communities. The School’s approach to innovation is both technological and pedagogical, experimenting with traditional knowledge and contemporary form. Working in local and northern communities, the lessons we learn can be extrapolated nationally and globally, as evidenced by Tammy Gaber’s graduate studio situated in Iceland. I look forward to continuing on this amazing journey, working with David and my colleagues to make the McEwen School a model for architecture schools all over the world.”

“I want to thank Terrance for his outstanding work and leadership in building the McEwen School into the award-winning institution it is today,” said Dr. Pierre Zundel, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurentian University. “I also want to congratulate David and wish him tremendous success as he takes on the challenge of guiding the McEwen School of Architecture to international acclaim.”

About the McEwen School of Architecture
The McEwen School of Architecture (MSoA) is founded upon pride of place. This philosophy embraces the resiliency of northern people and the unique beauty of the northern Ontario landscape. The MSoA is an unfolding experiment in emerging pedagogies and diverse cultures. Our unique program highlights design and culture for northern climates, regionally and internationally, with an emphasis in developing expertise in wood, design-build studios using traditional and emerging fabrication methods, community-led design, and an extensive co-op program in both industry and professional contexts. Our French, English, Métis, and First Nations faculty and student body participate in design studios in both French and English, as well as opportunities to work alongside Indigenous Elders-in-residence. Our innovative award-winning four-building complex is both intentionally didactic and environmentally sustainable, acting as our first and most accessible teaching tool.

Awards won by McEwen School of Architecture


Student Maeve Macdonald receives Bill Mason Scholarship Fund, established by Paddle Canada.


Wood Works Ontario: “Over $10 million Institutional Wood” award – Won for the use of wood in the construction of the MSoA. The awards honour people and organizations that, through design excellence, advocacy, and innovation, are advancing the use of wood in all types of construction.


CCA Annual Interuniversity Charette: Reassembling the North – “Public Opinion Prize” awarded for Nutri-Nunavik: The Potential of Northern Farming (team of undergraduate students)


and 2017 – IIDEX Canada: Student Edward Chung selected to exhibit EAB Floor Lamp and Mokomoko Vase, with Hamza Adenali, in Toronto 


Bergen International Wood Festival – McEwen Architecture students win “First Prize” for design-build wood installation (Profs. Tammy Gaber, Randall Kober + students)


Pride House that Kids Built, Sudbury for Para Pan-Am Games Human Resources – “Award of Excellence,” Ministry of Northern Development & Mines (MNDM) for installation quilt of children’s “Inclusion in Sports” paintings. (Professor Thomas Strickland + students)


Science North – “Partnership Award” given to Laurentian School of Architecture, for design of Dynamic Earth Pavilion (Profs. David Fortin, Roch Belair, with Francis Thorpe + students)


CANStruction – “People’s Choice Award” for PARALLAX: “a” is for architecture – (Prof. Terrance Galvin + students)


International VELUX Award for students of architecture (Vienna) – “Honourable Mention” for “Northern Lights” Ice Fishing Hut design – (Prof. Tammy Gaber + students)

Examples of projects underway at the McEwen School
Ongoing projects involving MSoA researchers and students include; a SSHRC-funded research project and exhibit on Métis architecture (Dr. David Fortin), a SSHRC funded project on mosque design and gendered spaces across Canada(Dr. Tammy Gaber) which will also include a Toronto exhibit and forthcoming book, an application for a UNESCO Research Chair (Dr. Émilie Pinard), and the founding of a Master Timber Tall Building Institute including an international competition in Sudbury (Randall Kober and colleagues), to name only a few.

About Laurentian University
Laurentian University offers an outstanding university experience in English and French, with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. Laurentian University, situated on the traditional territory of the Anishinabe peoples of Atikameksheng First Nation, prepares students as agents of change and empowers them to create innovative responses to local and global challenges. Laurentian’s students benefit from small class sizes and exceptional post-graduation employment rates.  With nine Canada Research Chairs and eighteen research centres, Laurentian is a recognized leader in its specialized areas of research strength, which include mining innovation and exploration, stressed watershed systems, particle astrophysics and rural and northern children’s health. Laurentian University has secured over $100 million in research income in the past five years.

For more information on Laurentian University visit