The New Vic at McGill University honored at the Canadian Architect Awards


The New Vic at McGill University, designed by Diamond Schmitt/LemayMichaud, has received a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. The winners were announced today by Canadian Architect, a renowned architecture magazine in Canada.

"This sensitively inserted addition and the adaptive reuse of these historic institutional buildings is superbly done. Without compromising the integrity of the historic buildings or overly downplaying the new addition, the old buildings become much more accessible and will be given a new life. Brought much closer to the public street, the new entrance is immediately welcoming and brings you into a series of sunlit and generous volumes, despite being largely underground", commented the jurors of the contest about the New Vic Projet. 

Now in its 56th year, the Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence represent the highest recognition for excellence in the design stage within the Canadian architectural sector. Out of the 218 professional, student, and photo submissions received for this year’s awards program, the jury selected five projects for Awards of Excellence, one of them being the New Vic project.

Canadian Architect Awards
Canadian Architect Awards ceremony. From the left: Matthew Lella, Cecily Eckhardt, Don Schmitt, Lucie Vaillancourt, Omar Gandhi, Michael Heeney, Martin Davidson et Pierre Major.
Project Overview

With the New Vic project, a portion of the former hospital complex is being transformed into an international centre for interdisciplinary research and teaching focused on the urgent task of healing the planet as the new home of Sustainability Systems and Public Policy at McGill. Diamond Schmitt/Lemay Michaud’s sustainability-driven design unites rehabilitation of the site’s heritage buildings with the creation of new, open and accessible spaces, restoring public access to Mount Royal and providing critical infrastructure to implement McGill’s ambitious vision of innovation in service to society.

Diamond Schmitt/Lemay Michaud’s design for the New Vic celebrates and restores the site’s historic spaces, complementing the original architecture and landscaping with expansions that increase light and access while achieving LEED Gold and WELL Gold environmental standards.

Nouveau Vic

The Royal Victoria Hospital’s original design comprised three freestanding pavilions in the Scottish baronial style, framing a landscaped forecourt and set against the pastoral backdrop of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Mount Royal Park. Following its original construction in 1893, the site has since been extensively developed, obstructing sightlines and access to the mountain. Transformation of the site will be achieved through restoration and reuse of heritage wings, as well as the construction of a new 350,000-square-foot research and teaching facility designed to integrate harmoniously with the site’s natural topography.

The forecourt landscape will be re-established, with a new entrance pavilion leading into teaching, community, and event spaces below, and open, accessible connections across the site and to the mountain will be restored. A robust engagement with Indigenous partners, initiated by the Provost of McGill, continues to shape the centre’s relationship with the traditional lands of the mountain and the creation of spaces for reconciliation, celebration and learning.

Nouveau Vic
New entrance pavilion

“We are inspired with urgency to design a centre devoted to the most critical issue of our time: healing the planet,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal at Diamond Schmitt/Lemay Michaud. “At the most local level, our design begins with the aim of healing the site, by restoring openness, access, light and harmony with the surroundings. Our approach is driven by a commitment to sustainable design, striving for the highest standards of environmental responsibility and innovation consistent with the ambition of the New Vic’s academic program.”

Diamond Schmitt/Lemay Michaud’s design is driven by McGill’s commitment to academic innovation: the new facilities are laid out following a ‘living lab’ model, organized not by distinct departments but by activities, so researchers from different disciplines will work side by side. The classrooms and laboratories are highly flexible, designed for active learning and adaptable to changing research demands. Laboratory spaces are complemented by multidisciplinary ‘discovery hubs’ that encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among researchers, policymakers and community partners across fields.

Nouveau Vic

To learn more about the New Vic project, please visit

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