Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University, Philadelphia

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University, Philadelphia

Credit: Halkin Architectural Photography LLC


Location: Toronto
Principals: Donald Schmitt (principal-in-charge); Martin Davidson (principal, lead designer)
Date Founded: 1975
Company Size: 130
Little-known fact: We have a soup program where each day a staff member makes a home-made soup for the office.

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University, Philadelphia

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University, Philadelphia

Credit: Halkin Architectural Photography LLC


What was the biggest lesson you learned from the New Mexico Highlands University project?
The value of early investigation of sustainable design options allowed for the greatest opportunity to find solutions that best met our design intentions as well as our client's ambition to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable design. This early engagement of the full design team resulted in the geothermal well field, and later, to include the operable sunshades into a dynamic façade system. A collaborative mindset is necessary to evaluate all options and their impact on sustainable development carried throughout the project.

Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario

Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario

Credit: Tom Arban


What insights from this and other sustainable projects would you share with other professionals?
Sustainable design means more than creating a high performance building. At its essence, we design to mitigate environmental impact by considering context, community, landscape and building form. This is achieved by engaging with our clients to help define sustainability goals. Through a collaborative integrated design process, the most appropriate and innovative technologies and building systems are applied. To further advocate, educate and facilitate in this role, we are committed to the 2030 Challenge to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all of our new and renovated buildings.

CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory, Hamilton, Ontario

CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory, Hamilton, Ontario

Credit: Elizabeth Gyde


What is your firm's philosophy on sustainable design?
Diamond Schmitt Architects is committed to producing environmentally sustainable buildings to preserve and enrich our environment. The company strives to deepen awareness and understanding of the issues and of what is possible to shape the urban landscape for a sustainable future.

  • Peter Gilgan Centre for Research  Learning, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

    Credit: Tom Arban

    Peter Gilgan Centre for Research & Learning, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  • Peter Gilgan Centre for Research  Learning, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

    Credit: Tom Arban

    Peter Gilgan Centre for Research & Learning, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

What kinds of sustainable solutions are non-negotiable for your firm? What are the baseline standards your firm aims to meet with every project?
Buildings that remain relevant and adaptable over the course of time are fundamentally sustainable.  Therefore we always strive to create the right design solution that is responsive to our clients’ needs and will serve them for the long term.  Material selections are consistently made to create a durable building inside and out and also reduce volatile organic compounds. We challenge our consultant team and client to seek to improve energy performance for all our buildings.

What are the top energy-saving features you put in your projects?
Top energy saving features starts with reducing energy waste. Strategies include reduced lighting densities, daylight and occupancy sensors paired with good quality daylight penetration; building automation to reduce energy waste; a good building thermal envelope and appropriate glazing; high performance mechanical systems tailored to building type; and energy reclamation. We have also incorporated numerous large scale geo-exchange systems and renewable energy such as solar wall and solar thermal collectors. We also frequently design our structures to be solar PV ready.

How do you think these types of innovative green solutions, products, and strategies, might become standard?
The fastest way to push green solutions is through government policy.