The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) has elected John Stephenson, OAA, MRAIC, to serve as OAA President for a second one-year term. As OAA president, Stephenson is committed to building architecture into a strong profession that is valued and empowered to serve the public interest through excellence in design and professional practice.
“In addition to design excellence, the key to achieving this goal is recognizing that effective project and risk management is central to the architect’s role today,” said Stephenson, in a press release.
Stephenson is one of the founding partners of FORM Architecture Engineering, formerly Kuch Stephenson Architects, the largest architectural practice in northwestern Ontario, which was established in 1986. After graduation from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, Stephenson worked as an intern architect in Toronto before moving to northwestern Ontario in 1980. While there, he continued his internship with Graham Bacon Welter Architects & Consulting Engineers before starting his practice in Thunder Bay.
Stephenson joined the OAA Council in 2013 after serving a term in the early 1990s and volunteering with the Association afterwards. Since then, he has participated in various committees, task forces and executive roles, including senior vice president and treasurer for the two years prior to being named president.
While on the Council, Stephenson took part in several initiatives, many of which are still in progress, including the OAA Headquarters Renew + Refresh project, re-imagining the OAA Honours and Awards program, a new media content creation and communication strategy and, in collaboration with ARIDO, considering ways interior design can be regulated under the Architects Act.
Stephenson is passionate about promoting continued public engagement and advocacy by architects on topics including procurement, housing affordability and the role of the architectural profession in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
During his first term as OAA president, Stephenson led the profession in a campaign refusing to participate in procurement processes that require architects to contract out of their professional obligations. Stephenson has also been a vocal supporter of more enlightened employment practices by architects and for the creation of a National Architecture Policy to guide the procurement of architectural services and the creation of a safe, healthy and uplifting built environment across the country.