Brian Allsopp Architect Ltd
Feb. 17, 2021
Investing in the future voice of architecture
Brian Allsopp has managed to steer his Edmonton based company through several difficult economic situations over the last 30 years, retooling and reconsidering his architecture firm so that it could emerge from each storm stronger and more successful.
Despite the obstacles he has faced, his love for architecture as a public art form and profession remains undiminished. In fact, as he considers retirement, he remains more committed than ever about encouraging and supporting education for the next generation of architects.
“I’m fortunate to have figured out how to survive and am in a situation where giving back is not just something that’s good, it’s essential,” he explains his decision to create an endowment at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL).
Allsopp, Life Member Architect AAA, AIBC, taught at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension and the University of Calgary as an adjunct professor for several years. He loves the interaction with students and the opportunity to challenge their thinking. He saw an opportunity to support and foster the future voices of architecture by creating an endowment to help students like Hannah Mousek (MArch’21) and Joshua TeBokkel (March’21).
After high school, Mousek, a hockey star, landed a spot on the University of Alberta’s team. Besides her passion for hockey, she had always enjoyed playing with blocks and Lego; putting things together. When the time came to declare an area of study, Mousek chose the Bachelor of Industrial Design; a decision that ultimately brought her to the University of Calgary for a Master of Architecture degree program.
She found it intimidating at first, being surrounded by people who seemed innately good at acquiring the necessary software and design skills to be successful. And she struggled with the financial reality of being in a very demanding graduate program with little time to work to pay bills. The Allsopp Award made a huge difference for Mousek. “Receiving an award gives you a different mindset,” she shares. It’s a form of validation – “that you can exist alongside these very smart, very capable people. And it allows you the opportunity to explore and be creative with your projects because you don’t have to stress so much about financials.”
Fellow student and award recipient, Joshua TeBokkel agrees. “It has allowed me to focus on my studies, to be less stressed about other things like buying supplies. I put a lot of time into my studies and I definitely don’t have time to work outside of school.”
Allsopp has earmarked the award for students who show promise or skill in writing, especially writing about architecture. Partly because he sees great value in encouraging a public discourse about design. “Architecture is not a solo art. There is no more public art form,” he reasons, “people live in a building, work in a building, drive by buildings every day, they should be aware of the architect’s role in creating the built environment.”
He firmly believes the future of the profession lies in the ability of students to be critical thinkers and advocates for architecture. “There is a need to learn how to work in the public realm and influence the direction of those creating our cities. The architect might be the only one in the room who can speak for architecture. Architects cannot listen without speaking. They must advocate for architecture.”
While Mousek doesn’t know where her career will take her, “I’ve been really lucky to have had a number of professors who’ve been very different in the way they approach design. It’s really useful to have different ways to approach architecture.”
As for his future prospects, TeBokkel knows he wants to keep learning. “I don’t know if going back to school is in my future, or perhaps going to a firm that is doing less conventional, more conceptual work.”
Wherever they land, their professional future is assured with cities expected to densify and more than 56 percent of the world population already living in urban areas. Clearly, the world is going to need more architects, landscape architects and planners in the years ahead.
Allsopp is convinced of this and recently decided to double his initial endowment.
“I wish I could find a way to encourage others in the profession, especially those over 60, winding down their careers, many of whom have done very well financially in Alberta, to give back to the next generation.”
If you would like to add your support in the form of an endowment, or as a contribution to any of our other funding priorities, please visit our website to make a one-time, quarterly or monthly donation.