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Principal architect at firm behind ECU's new campus appointed to the Order of Canada

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on July 02, 2019 | Updated August 06, 2019, 9:07AM

Donald R. M. Schmitt, principal at the architectural firm behind Emily Carr University of Art + Design's new campus, has been awarded one of Canada's highest civilian honours.

The principal of the firm behind Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s new campus has been awarded one of Canada’s top honours for his leadership in the architectural community, and his advocacy for sustainability in architecture and design excellence.

Donald R.M. Schmitt, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects, was appointed to the Order of Canada, considered one of the country’s most prestigious civilian awards. On June 27, Rideau Hall announced Donald’s name along with 82 others as appointees.

The Order of Canada “honours people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation,” according to the Governor General of Canada’s website.

“The contributions of these trailblazers are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. Their grit and passion inspire us, teach us and show us the way forward. They exemplify the Order’s motto: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (‘They desire a better country’).”

Born in South Porcupine, Ontario, Donald graduated from the University of Toronto School of Architecture, winning the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada medal for achieving the highest level of academic excellence.

His career has seen him spearhead the reinvigoration of iconic historical structures including the National Arts Centre and The Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, among many other projects spanning the country. He is also currently leading the design for the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada joint facility.

In 2017, the design for the new Emily Carr campus — helmed by project architect and Diamond Schmitt Vancouver studio lead Ana Maria Llanos — came to life, as students, faculty, political leaders and the public were welcomed for the first time to the newly completed grounds.

The LEED Gold-certified building features sky-lit atriums, galleries and exhibit spaces, a natural light-filled library and learning commons, and studios with large north-facing windows. The building exterior is punctuated with coloured-glass panels referencing the distinctive palette of Emily Carr the artist.

“This new state-of-the-art building will inspire the creative talents of new and returning students,” Melanie Mark, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, said at the time.

Other recent projects include the high-rise laboratories of The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at Sickids in Toronto, and the “highly collaborative academic environment” of Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

In a citation from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, Donald was recognized “for his rehabilitation of iconic heritage buildings and for his sustainable architectural designs.”

According to a news release from Diamond Schmitt, Donald, on learning of his appointment, said, “I am honoured and humbled to be among Canadians from all walks of life as a Member of the Order of Canada.”

Emily Carr University of Art + Design congratulates Donald on his achievement.

“I am honoured and humbled to be among Canadians from all walks of life as a Member of the Order of Canada.”