Halifax firm wins $50K architecture prize

Halifax firm Susan Fitzgerald Architecture has won the Canada Council's $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome.
Bridgeview Drive, a design by Susan Fitzgerald Architecture, winner of the 2011 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture. (Mike Dembeck and Jamie Steeves/Canada Council for the Arts)

A Halifax firm has won the Canada Council's $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome architecture.

Susan Fitzgerald Architecture is the latest recipient of the annual prize, which recognizes a young firm that has "completed its first buildings and demonstrated exceptional artistic potential."

The award allows its winners, over the course of two years, to travel in order to further "develop their creative practice and strengthen their presence on the international scene."

As the 2011 winner, Susan Fitzgerald Architecture says it intends to use the prize money to fund research on new, effective ways to integrate agricultural and green spaces into urban centres.

The win "will give much-needed attention to the architectural implications of urban agriculture," Canada Council director Robert Sirman said in a statement Wednesday.

"We are excited by the imaginative way Susan Fitzgerald Architecture is approaching the field."

The firm's practice focuses on designs that take account of and incorporate specific elements of the location — whether a picturesque landscape, brilliant natural light or an existing industrial building on-site.

The company also values sustainability and has worked to develop fresh ideas about urban density.

In addition to founding her own company, the British-born, Halifax-based Fitzgerald is also a partner with Fowler Bault & Mitchell Ltd. and teaches design at Dalhousie University.

Earlier this year, the Canada Council awarded Winnipeg architect Samantha Lynchits its Prix de Rome for emerging practitioners, which recognizes a recent graduate of one of Canada's 11 accredited architecture schools who demonstrates outstanding potential. Worth $34,000, the emerging practitioner honour allows the recipient to visit significant sites and facilitates an internship abroad.