When Peter Osborne helped open GEC Architecture’s Edmonton office in 2011, he did so with a powerful desire to improve the city’s built environment.
“As architects, we have a huge impact on the built environment and in turn have opportunities to improve issues of social justice and affordability and what all that means in our world,” he says, adding that buildings often don’t feel well integrated into their environments, or don’t contribute to a welcoming streetscape, or don’t provide appropriate accessibility.
Now CEO of GEC Architecture, which has offices in Calgary and Toronto, Osborne has been responsible for some of Edmonton’s most significant recent projects, including the University of Alberta University Commons, NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre, the City Hall Plaza and Fountain redevelopment and the Paul Kane Park Redevelopment.
Upcoming projects include a new downtown campus quad for NorQuest College and the new School of Business for MacEwan University.
But those are just the shiny baubles. His greatest contribution to the city is arguably his work on affordable and supportive housing. He has worked with the City of Edmonton, Civida and Homeward Trust to design more than 500 homes over nine projects in the city. These projects have fuelled design thinking about housing and what it means to provide homes for our most vulnerable populations.
“Housing is an interesting discipline within architecture,” he says. “It touches a lot of different aspects of social justice, such as affordability, accessibility, diversity and inclusion. Architects are broadly grappling with these issues these days.”