Barry Johns

Curriculum Vitae

Barry Johns


Acadia University, Diploma Architecture / Engineering l968
Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS) – now Dalhousie, Bachelor of Architecture l972 Alberta Association of Architects (Life Member)
Fellow, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Chancellor, College of Fellows, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (2011 – 2017) Director of Practice, Alberta Association of Architects (2015 – 2019)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
(Honorary) Fellow, American Institute of Architects
LEED® Accredited Professional
ORDER of Athabasca University (bestowed twice – 2013 and 2015)


Barry Johns is a Canadian Architect who has maintained a modest and small design studio in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada since 1981 after a lengthy tenure with Arthur Erickson in Vancouver; serving clients or the profession either as an independent architectural practice or, as a design consultant to other national or international architectural firms. The firm has developed successful relationships with companies such as Stantec, Gibbs Gage Architects, Group2 Architecture Interior Design and Perkins + Will. Barry Johns Architecture now functions as a sole practitioner firm.

A registered Architect since l974, Barry Johns developed an international reputation as a uniquely innovative and collaborative design professional. Projects completed over a lengthy career include schools, offices, community facilities, colleges, university and recreational buildings and urban design –
each with a commitment to excellence, a pursuit towards authenticity and finally, ‘treading lightly on the earth’ through a portfolio of environmentally driven, sustainable design.

He has been recognized as an industry leader in sustainable design and urban design since the completion of the Edmonton Advanced Technology Centre in 1988.

Barry Johns was a Project Architect for Arthur Erickson Architects in Vancouver, British Columbia, a team member in charge of design and production of the public amenity areas of the iconic Robson Square, a downtown development still widely recognized as a North American landmark in architecture and urban design. He was also the design lead and Project Architect for the Evergreen Building at the corner of Pender and Jervis Streets in Vancouver completed in 1979, that is now the first contemporary building in the city to be awarded heritage status.

His interest in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright goes back to when he was a student of architecture. He along with his wife Margo, are frequent visitors and contributors to Taliesin West in Phoenix and have visited dozens of Frank Lloyd Wright projects across North America.

Barry joined with many others in the successful petitioning to preserve the David and Gladys Wright house in Phoenix when it was first threatened with demolition. He has lectured about the merits of this important work on site at the invitation of the Phoenix Historical League. He firmly believes we are living in a world that is finally beginning to understand the intimate relationship between humankind and the environment – and that Wright’s philosophy of working in harmony with nature should be considered more relevant today than ever before.

In 2018, the American Institute of Architects awarded Barry Johns (Hon)FAIA,  the prestigious Leslie N. Boney Award for outstanding service to the AIA. As the first international recipient of this prize, this is unprecedented.


Barry Johns in private practice created a collaborative studio where students and practitioners always worked alongside one another in an atelier based culture with design at the core of every activity. The notion that ‘every decision is a design decision’ has underpinned the practice since its inception. As such, the studio emerged as a democratic teaching environment, extending to all aspects of the work, including the integration of client, consultant, and contractor in the decision making process – creating an integrated pedagogy and a better understanding across all disciplines about how things are made. By reducing the mystery around the act of design – build, projects reflect the ‘personality of the circumstance’,
driven by site, climate, client requirements, culture and social value – in an ongoing pursuit of authenticity.

This approach led to invitations to teach and lecture on the work of the firm at Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Montreal, McGill University, the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, the University of Saskatchewan, the Banff Sessions, Clemson University and Taliesin. This includes other public lectures, conference presentations and symposia across Canada the United States and elsewhere around the world. Barry Johns has served on many design award juries across the country representing several architectural award programs, including the Canada Council and the Prix de Rome and the Moriyama RAIC International Prize. TUNS Press published an early monograph on his firm as part of a series on Canadian Architects in July 2000 and the firm completed an eBook in 2017, available for download on the firm’s website.

As a result of the firm’s collective achievements Barry Johns is recognized as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1994), a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (1995) and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (2002).

Since its inception, BJAL has received 100 design awards from around the world, including the Governor  General’s Medal and an Olympic Gold Medal for the Arts, with its work published and exhibited  throughout North America, Britain, Japan and China.

Notable award winning and/or LEED certified projects are:

  • INFILLHAUS – a net zero experiment in Infill typologies, intending to illustrate that infill can and should be a good
    contextual fit to mature, urban neighborhoods and represent a new housing paradigm for future generations.
  • Oxford Master Plan – regeneration, densification and mixed use redevelopment  Kingsway Mall, Edmonton, with
    Perkins + Will, 2015
  • Blatchford Master Plan, international competition winning master plan, carbon neutral community for 25,000 people on the former municipal airport lands, Edmonton, with Perkins + Will, beyond LEED Platinum and regenerative, 2014
  • PAW Centre, master plan and recreation centre for University of Alberta, with Group2, LEED Gold, 2014
  • Grant MacEwan Community College – now University, completed 1993, 9 design and urban design awards including 2014 People’s Choice Architecture Award for most popular project in the City of Edmonton
  • Genesis Centre, recreation centre, YMCA and municipal library, Calgary, with Gibbs Gage Architects, LEED Gold,
  • Innisfail Public Library and Town Centre, Innisfail, with Group2, LEED Gold equivalent, 2012
  • Makira Outpost, Edmonton Valley Zoo, LEED Silver equivalent, 2011
  • Triffo Hall, academic centre, U of A, reconstruction of oldest historic building to achieve LEED Gold in Canada, 2011
  • Building Communities through Learning (BCTL), trades centre, Red Deer College, with Group2, LEED Gold, 2009
  • Lieutenant Governor Residence Design Competition Alberta, Award winner 2009
  • First Choice Centre, recreation centre, University of Lethbridge, with Gibbs Gage Architects, LEED Silver, 2007
  • Snap Lake Diamond Mine Accommodations Centre Design Competition, Award winner 2007
  • Cardel Place, recreation centre and municipal library, Calgary, with Gibbs Gage Architects, 1st LEED Gold Building in Alberta and 1st LEED Gold Recreation Centre in Canada, 2002
  • Information and Communications Technology Centre, University of Calgary, Alberta Building of the Year 2001
  • Taipei International Software Park Competition, Award winner 1991
  • Olympic Arch Competition, Gold Medal 1988
  • Advanced Technology Centre, high technology incubator, Governor General’s medal 1987
  • London Docklands Ideas Competition, Award winner 1984
  • Numerous Canadian Architect Design Awards, 1983 – 2017


Barry Johns believes in the commitment of time and expertise in the service of community. The practice has always set aside time to get involved in public life at local, provincial and national levels.

Since the inception of his firm in 1981, Barry Johns was elected and served two terms on Council of the Alberta Association of Architects. He served on the Board of the Downtown Business Association in Edmonton. He co-founded and completed a two year mandate as the Chairman of the Edmonton Urban Design Review Panel; completed a five year term on the Board of Operation Friendship, an inner city social services agency and served on the Board of Directors of the EFFORT Society in Edmonton, a non-profit society dedicated to providing financial assistance to arts, sciences and health organizations in Edmonton. He served as a 6 year Board member and Past President of the Fort Edmonton Historical Foundation and obtained approval of the current Master Development Plan with City Council for this site which is the largest living history museum in Canada.

He was a founding Board member and a past President of the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) in Ottawa serving on the Board for 10 years that included a total of seven accreditation site visits to Schools of Architecture in Canada and the USA. He was Team Chair for visits at the University of Calgary, the University of Manitoba and McGill University during this tenure.

Alongside several of his colleagues in Edmonton, Barry Johns founded the Innovative Practice Group in Architecture (IPGA) at the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary. This group in Edmonton, provided satellite studios for the Graduate School of Architecture and delivered the Professional Practice curriculum in ‘block weeks’ each semester through a series of learning offices. During this time he was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture and a member of the Faculty at
the School for over a decade, specializing in sustainable design. His design studios were regularly published by the School and in national periodicals / trade journals and architectural magazines.

This commitment to education culminated with a partnership between the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and Athabasca University. Barry is a member of the Program Advisory Council for the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University, a role which earned him the Order of Athabasca University in 2013. He was also nominated by Athabasca University and received a National Philanthropic Day Award for his work in higher education in 2014. This renewed RAIC Syllabus – an on-line distance education program that now includes a dual degree curriculum in Architecture, is predicated on the idea of a work / study alternate path to architectural registration and licensure. Using virtual studios that bring together students from myriad geographical locations on the same project over the internet – a new paradigm has emerged as a future direction in architectural education. Barry also served as a member of the Capital Campaign Fundraising Cabinet for the Open Our World Campaign at Athabasca University, that raised $33 million in the University’s first major Capital Campaign. This earned him a second Order of Athabasca University in 2015.

In 2011 Barry Johns was elected Chancellor of the College of Fellows of the Royal Institute of Canada where he served two three year terms until 2017. As Chancellor, a member of the Board of RAIC and a trustee of the RAIC Foundation, his work championed the following:

  • Significant growth of the College by more than 30 percent of the membership including an increase of 48 percent of the female membership.
  • The completion of the renewed RAIC Syllabus program, and two new degrees at the Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University. The undergraduate program in architecture is now the second largest in Canada.
  • A $120,000 endowment was raised in 6 short weeks to establish the Kiyoshi Matsuzaki Memorial Scholarship for Syllabus students.
  • A successful liaison with the National Gallery of Canada to secure the approvals to restore the Canada Pavilion in Venice, Italy for the architecture and fine arts Biennale.
  • The College has built relationships with American, Australian, New Zealand, and British Fellows and the UIA. Joint project initiatives include an on-line international mentoring program.
  • The launch of a new Emerging Architectural Firm Award.
  • With RAIC staff, the establishment of a major public lecture event with the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture, providing a forum for winners to discuss their work.
  • The inception and building of the prestigious Moriyama RAIC International Prize as a legacy project for RAIC to celebrate a transformative work of architecture every two years. Growing
    in international stature, the Prize has in a few short years, attracted architects from Canada and around the world and is deeply engaging Canadian students of architecture in a parallel scholarship competition program.

Barry completed a four year term as the Director of Practice for the Alberta Association of Architects in 2019.

Together with several of his colleagues, Barry Johns is working on a book project to chronicle the culture of the Arthur Erickson office, through personal experiences during a most productive period in the 1970’s with one of Canada’s most celebrated architects. He serves currently as a Director of the Arthur Erickson Foundation, active with its Stewardship committee in the quest to maintain major Erickson works such as Robson Square and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. He is assisting the Foundation and the University of Alberta in a quest to restore Dyde House, Arthur Erickson’s only residence built in Alberta at the University Botanic Garden.

He has recently completed a manuscript on the history of contemporary architecture and urban design in Alberta as part of a comprehensive anthology that examines the overarching role of design in Alberta, to be published in 2021and the firm is given due mention in the recently acclaimed survey of Canadian Architecture by Elsa Lam and Graham Livesey entitled Canadian Modern Architecture – from 1967 to the present.


Read the Biography of Barry Johns in
the Canadian Encyclopedia