Inaugural winner of the Gouhar Shemdin Award in Built Heritage Conservation

Sept 27, 2022

The inaugural recipient of the Gouhar Shemdin Award in Built Heritage Conservation is Jacob Wilson, who graduated in June with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies specializing in Conservation and Sustainability.


“It is truly an honour to be the first recipient of this prestigious scholarship,” says Wilson, who had the highest grade point average in the BAS Conservation and Sustainability stream.


“I had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Shemdin to thank her personally,” he adds. “She is a remarkable person who embodies everything I hope to be able to achieve in my career.”


The Gouhar Shemdin Award in Built Heritage Conservation recognizes design excellence and innovative approaches to sustainability for the conservation, safeguarding, and reuse of built heritage. 


The $1,000 annual award goes to an outstanding student in the fourth and final year of the Conservation and Sustainability program. The next award will be presented in June 2023. 

Jacob Wilson, inaugural recipient of the
Gouhar Shemdin Award in Built Heritage Conservation

A second annual award of $1,000 goes to a student enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering program in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability. 


Based in Sudbury, ON, Wilson is currently working on freelance projects. He plans to enter a Master of Architecture program in Canada or abroad, focusing on conservation and sustainability.


“I feel motivated to enter this field as I have developed a passion for examining heritage buildings, their cultural significance, and creating sustainable architecture,” he says. 


The award was established in 2021 by Gouhar Shemdin, an Ottawa-based conservation architect with more than two decades in the federal civil service and later as a heritage consultant internationally.

June 22 convocation reception at the Architecture Building. From left: Associate Professor Mariana Esponda; Award recipient Gouhar Shemdin; Gouhar Shemdin

“I hope to continue motivating young professionals to enter this field that we are passionate about, to protect our architectural heritage and prevent wasteful destruction that is not sustainable,” says Shemdin.


Since 2009, the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism has offered the only Canadian undergraduate level specialization in architectural conservation and sustainability. 


“The Gouhar Shemdin Award is a recognition of the hard work and creativity by conservation students in looking for sustainable solutions to the built environment,” says Associate Professor Mariana Esponda, the program coordinator.  


“One of the key elements in most of the conservation studios is the integration of the local community,” says Dr. Esponda. “So far, we have repurposed or conserved more than 25 heritage buildings in Ottawa and the surrounding area.”

Between the Stones


The project Between the Stones, by Jacob Wilson and classmate Sasha Borwick, was completed in the fourth-year studio, Sacred Spaces, led by Instructor Isabel Potworoski.


It is a restoration/ adaptive reuse proposal for the Bytown-Prescott railway ruins in Ottawa. The project focused on the history and contribution of the railway to the development of the Ottawa region. It sought to provide a space to animate the shoreline along the Rideau River and for individuals to contemplate their surroundings.