Barry J. Hobin to Receive OAA Lifetime Design Achievement Award

April 12, 2024

The Ontario Association of Architects’ Lifetime Design Achievement Award recognizes an Architect’s career-long commitment to the promotion and achievement in Architectural Design Excellence. Presented biennially, this prestigious award celebrates the outstanding contribution of Architects whose body of work reflects a lasting legacy of excellence and innovation.

In an OAA news release this April, Barry J. Hobin was named the recipient of this honor for 2024, sharing the title with past recipients such as A. J. Diamond, George Baird, Bruce Kuwabara, Raymond Moriyama and Eb Zeidler (shown below, left to right).

Barry is described by longtime friend and classmate Dave O’Malley, as “an Ottawa Architect who spent half a century committed to building a successful practice based on design excellence, workplace equity, creative collaboration, social responsibility and, above all, a sense of belonging to and contributing to a wider community.”

Friend and peer Eliseo Temprano commented in his letter of support for the nomination, “Barry is known for being a great team player and someone who can bring people together. Barry’s dedication to teamwork is the foundation of the enterprise he built, drawing on the ideals and methods he started back in the ’80s.”

Wendy Brawley, principal at Hobin, offered in her letter of support, “[Barry] has been humbled by his success and has always been committed to sharing it, giving back through his commitment to philanthropy – both personally and through his ability to bring forth key people from within the community whom together can make a difference.”

The essay prepared for Barry’s nomination submission follows.

Barry J. Hobin // Passion for Teamwork + Catalyst for Change

50 Years of Design Excellence

by Steve Clifford and Gord Lorimer

Visionary designer, urban revitalizer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and family man, Barry J. Hobin has demonstrated design excellence throughout his career in Architecture.

2025 will mark 50 years since Barry Hobin graduated from Carleton University’s Architecture program in 1974. Over nearly five decades, he has left his Architectural mark on the Nation’s Capital, the province of Ontario as well as the Country. Barry is best known for design initiatives that become catalysts for community growth. His buildings, while beautiful, have an immediate impact on the development of community.

Barry has transformed Ottawa’s architectural landscape for the better. The tools he has used to fuel his success remain unchanged to this day: Design, Collaboration, and Community.

IllumiNATION LeBreton Flats Proposal, 2014

Design and City Building

Barry’s design achievements speak for themselves. His projects have been recognized by local and international awards programs. They are commonly referenced within the City of Ottawa’s design guidelines as examples of design excellence. Critics, neighbours and—most importantly—building users laud the designs that Barry and his team create in their Ottawa-based studio.

“If you look at all our projects you will see a modulation of form to avoid oversized blocks, the use of windows in an aggressive fashion for light and views both in and out, and an attempt to create unusual, invigorating interior spaces.” —BJH

575 Old Prospect Road, Rockcliffe Park, 2020
> Copper Development Association Inc., North American Copper in Architecture Award, 2020
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award — Housing Details, 2021
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award — Exterior Living Space, 2021

“His work, embodying an eclectic but often skillful blend of historical and modern forms, the use of rich and varied materials, and a strong respect for context, often seems connected to the past yet comfortably situated in the present. It is this ability, to create housing and institutional building designs that are at once recognizable to the average person yet still fresh, that underlies his success.” —Rhys Phillips, Architecture Critic

Advocacy is central to Barry’s philosophy. He has been an active supporter of his alma mater, Carleton University’s School of Architecture, being instrumental in the reinstatement of the monthly Forum Lecture Series. The lectures, which are typically open to the public, are described by Barry as a “catalyst for better design in the Ottawa area.”

“We’re very committed to what we’re doing, making every building different and unique, and enhancing understanding of what an Architect can do. We are in the design business, creating buildings that will make Ottawa a better place.” —BJH

Beaver Barracks Non-Profit Housing, 2012
> Canadian Housing & Renewal Association Awards, Sustainability Award, 2014
> Canadian Urban Institute “Brownie” Awards, Award of Excellence in Project Development – Building Scale, 2012
> World Habitat Awards, Finalist, 2013

Housing Diversity — While Barry’s work has encompassed a broad range of sectors, from spiritual to industrial and almost everything in between, he has developed a unique specialization in housing. By entrenching himself in the housing marketplace since his first day on the job, he has built a knowledge and skill base unmatched in Ottawa.

This housing skill has been applied to the full range of housing typologies, including modest and large custom homes, developer tract housing, high-rise multi-unit apartment buildings, and urban mixed-use developments. Barry is an advocate for homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity and affordable housing providers like Ottawa Community Housing and Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corp. Barry’s firm has become known for its expertise in supportive housing projects such as long-term care, respite homes and residential outreach programs.

Barry has an understanding of what the market wants and what the community needs, as well as how developers think. He has learned how and when to challenge the municipal regulatory framework. Being ahead of the curve, many of Barry’s projects have inspired the creation of new by-law provisions on mixed-use urban high-rise development within the City of Ottawa.

“Barry has excellent design flair. He understands how to build and design economically, and has excellent business judgment. For someone in the private sector having a firm with all three of those qualities is very endearing.” —Robert Greenberg, Minto Developments Inc.

Lansdowne Park Redevelopment, 2016
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Special Jury Prize for Tall Building Design Excellence (The Rideau), 2017
> Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Finalist–Attached Homes Mid-to High-rise, 2017
> RAIC National Urban Design Awards, Certificate of Merit–Civic Design Projects, 2016
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Excellence–Visions and Masterplans, 2015
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Merit–Urban Infill Mid-High Rise (The Vibe), 2015
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award–High-Rise Building 50 units or more (The Vibe), 2015

“The typology of this project is done extremely well. The Jury felt that as a building type, this project exemplified a level of design and detailing which was an exemplar for other tall buildings to follow.”
—Jury of the 2017 City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards

Westboro Station, 2012
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award–High-Rise, 2010

“We think he’s a terrific architect and a good firm to work with. Barry has a good, mature, sensitive designer. He comes up with some really unique themed architecture for our developments.” —John McDougall, Uniform Urban Developments

Farm Boy, Ottawa Trainyards, 2020

Custom Homes — Barry has held dear to his heart a special connection to home design, an area that gave him his start in the industry following his Architecture training. Over the years, Barry has accepted notable custom home commissions for clients the likes of Harry Mews, Harley Finkelstein, Dr. Caroline Tosoni, Michael Potter, Yves Tremblay, Sandra Blaikie, Ron Zambonini, Tony Graham and the Canadian Ambassador to Iran.

In each case, whether an urban or rural setting, Barry’s designs consider the forces of context and heritage to develop the form, articulation and layout in conjunction with the owner’s lifestyle and future needs.

512 Island Park Drive, 2012 (left), 3405 Carling Avenue, 2007 (right)

“To Barry, innovation becomes more than a service to the Client. It becomes a catalyst for making things better for the community.” —Gord Lorimer, FRAIC, Partner Emeritus, Hobin Architecture

130 The Driveway, 1985
> Canadian Housing Design Council, Governor General’s Award, 1985
> Ottawa Carleton Home Builders Association, Award of Excellence, 1984
> Ontario Masons’ Relations Council, Award of Excellence, 1985

“Barry and his team were able to develop a vision and design for our projects through consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders. He led us through the development process and we are extremely pleased with our facilities and how they have enhanced our community.” —Mitchell Bellman, Jewish Community Council of Ottawa/Vaad Ha’Ir

A Culture of Collaboration

“Architecture is an interactive and collaborative form of art. We never win business on price, but because we engage with the client and help them think about what it is that they want to achieve. We become part of their team and add value by helping them to define their vision before a shovel ever hits the ground.” —BJH

By embedding this attitude into all his projects, Barry has earned a reputation as a team player and consensus builder. He’s not afraid to provoke critical input into his ideas and those of his team from all players around the table.

Barry has been known to draw comparisons between practicing Architecture and playing organized sports.

“What do these two things have in common? Teamwork. Teamwork is so essential in recognizing that within your team someone has talents you don’t have.” —BJH

James Bartleman Archives & Library Materials Centre (w. Shoalts & Zaback), 2011
> Ontario Association of Architects, Design Excellence Award, 2012
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Merit–Public Places and Civic Spaces, 2011

It is Barry’s dedication to teamwork that has allowed him to build an enterprise around the ideals and methodologies that he pioneered in the 80’s along with his small initial design team. Barry believes in nurturing a team atmosphere by creating a healthy work environment and promoting activities that allow his team to think and play together outside the walls of their Little Italy office. Sports teams, fundraising events, cottage retreats and international field trips are all ways they engage with one another and with the community.

“We really focus on individual achievement in our society. Today, I stand here as a person in context. I’m a son, a husband, a father, a teammate, a friend… each relationship has shaped who I am.” —BJH

Some of the most significant works produced by Barry’s firm have involved an expanded talent base of Architects. Examples are the Landsdowne Park Redevelopment with bbb Architects, James Bartleman Archives & Library Materials Centre with Shoalts & Zaback, and David Azrieli Pavilion & Lecture Theatre with Moriyama & Teshima. Each of these relationships made for a better project by providing a wider base of experience and increased production resources.

“Barry is a selfless promoter of others who never fails to recognize the contributions and skills of his staff and other members of the development team.” —Wayne Jennings, Doran Contractors

Greystone Village, 2022
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award–New Community Underway, 2020
> Canadian Urban Institute “Brownie” Awards, Renew: Development at the Community Scale, 2018
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Merit–Visions and Master Plans, 2017

“The plan knits into the fabric of the established neighbourhood and is respectful, keeping the grand alley, forecourt and Deschâtelets building. It understands the sensitivity of the area and recognizes the river’s edge. The project creates a new vibrant community that recognizes the heritage of the area.” —Jury of the 2017 City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards

David J. Azrieli Pavilion and Lecture Theatre, Carleton University (w. Moriyama & Teshima), 2002

“What I respect about them the most is their persistent commitment to filling in the blank spaces of Ottawa and transforming it from a city of gaps and isolated buildings into a much more cohesive and urban experience.” —Ben Gianni, Carleton University

Community at the Centre of Everything

While Barry’s collaborative approach is applied to projects in all sectors his firm undertakes, the approach does favour projects that serve the community. In many ways, Barry treats all his projects as community projects. He possesses a natural ability to discover ways that a building or planned community can embed social, cultural and economic benefits that reach beyond its property lines.

“Internally, the firm believes very strongly in philanthropy in the sense that we are born in community, we are nurtured in community, we owe our success to the context of the community. Community is really important.” —BJH

Philanthropy Barry’s philanthropic endeavours take on many forms. In its early days, his firm adopted a tithing approach to giving back, allocating a portion of revenues to charitable donation before taking any profit. This has evolved to include an annual program called “You Give, We Give”—which was designed to inspire the firm’s peers, clients and followers to donate as well, expanding and compounding the benefit to the community organically through media and online platforms.

With deep gratitude and emotion, Barry accepted a Philanthropy Award from the Ottawa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals on behalf of his firm in 2023.

“Our challenge moving forward is mentoring that next generation about participating and thinking about what you would do to make Ottawa a better place.” —BJH

The Haven Affordable Housing, 2017
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award–New Community Built, 2018


“Hobin Architecture is known for designing beautiful spaces and for their client experience but did you know that Barry Hobin has also fostered a culture of philanthropy in his staff. Leading by example, they are making a difference in our community. How appropriate that they are being awarded the Ottawa Philanthropy Award for Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist.” —Jacqueline Belsito, Senators Community Foundation

Pedagogy In the spirit of giving back, and with a deep seated belief in the power held by the younger generations to make positive changes in our community, Barry is a loyal volunteer and a generous donor of his alma mater, Carleton University. He has personally supported students and served on both the Advisory Board of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism and the Board of Governors.

In 2019, Hobin Architecture introduced the “Hobin Prize in Architecture and City Building,” encouraging fourth-year students at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism through monetary reward. The fourth-year housing studio focuses on topical issues such as affordability, diversity of housing typologies and community engagement.

“These are the themes of our times. Architecture has a more complex role than it ever has in the past. It’s not just about buildings. It’s about building places and trying to respond to things like the LRT and how we plan to live around it.” —BJH

Social Works Barry’s portfolio is notable for its long list of projects for non-profit clients. Organization such as The Salvation Army, The Ottawa Mission, BGC Ottawa, The Ottawa Rotary Home, Multifaith Housing Initiative, National Capital Y and Ottawa Jewish Community know Barry’s firm well, and trust his ability to respect their values and funding capacity.

The Salvation Army Centre of Hope Ottawa, 2026

“Barry is one of the top architects in this city. Normally we would not be able to afford an architect of Hobin’s calibre. What both he and his staff did for us was exceptional. They were very dedicated and concerned. The design was aesthetically pleasing and practical, and useful for the homeless. We cannot speak his praises high enough. He’s a wonderful, wonderful man.” —Laird Eddy, The Ottawa Mission

Rochester Heights Redevelopment Phase 1, 2022
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Excellence–Urban Infill – Mid to high rise, 2023
> Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, Design Excellence Award–Not-for-Profit Project, 2022

“The Jury celebrates the project’s ability to achieve increased density and the contribution it makes to the public realm. The Jury noted the exemplary submission successfully addresses grade changes, implements a successful amenity courtyard, and takes a strong approach to building materiality. The Jury sees this type of project as a positive step in city building and encourages similar approaches to integrating affordable housing into existing communities.” —Jury of the 2023 City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards

Mutchmor Public School Addition, 2015
> City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards, Award of Merit–Urban Infill Low Rise, 2017

“School typologies have been under designed in the past, but this is a good example of what can be achieved. The project creates highly successful architecture and public realm spaces that sensitively deals with the Heritage of the building. The jury was very impressed.” —Jury of the 2017 City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards

The Glebe Community Centre, 2004
> City of Ottawa Architectural Conservation Award of Excellence, 2005
> City of Ottawa Accessibility By Design Award, 2006

“Nobody would argue that Barry Hobin’s office is a fantastic architectural firm. It’s community and charity minded. I feel good working with people who give back to the community.” —Barbara Farber, Leiken Group

Recent News