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Architecture Sustainability & Green Design

Insight and On Site

The Architecture of Diamond and Schmitt

by (author) Donald Schmitt & Jack Diamond

with Don Gillmor

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Jul 2008
Sustainability & Green Design, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2008
    List Price

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Over the past 30 years, Diamond and Schmitt Architects, one of the world's leading architecture firms, has produced a portfolio that reflects their core belief in the importance of content and context in architecture. Buildings should live in their environments, not be set apart.


Since its formation in 1975, Diamond and Schmitt Architects has also been at the vanguard of socially responsible architecture and urban planning, and Jack Diamond and Donald Schmitt have long been vocal advocates for environmental sustainability. Today the firm is at the center of a critical debate: How do we make cities livable in the twenty-first century? An increasing number of trophy buildings-structures that consume money, steel, and glass, and require huge energy expenditures-are being erected as advertisements for cities. Suburban sprawl is eroding irreplaceable green space and contributing to pollution and environmental degradation. The need for socially and environmentally responsible architecture has never been greater.


Part manifesto, part architectural monograph, this book addresses today's most important architectural issues at a critical point in the future of the urban form. It features the most important projects in Diamond & Schmitt's oeuvre, interspersed with 11 essays, including one by Witold Rybczynski.

About the authors

Donald Schmitt's many projects include the University of Guelph-Humber Building. A distinguished architect and a founding chair of Toronto's Public Art Commission, he is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Planning Design and Real Estate of the National Capital Commission in Ottawa.

Donald Schmitt's profile page

A.J. Diamond graduated from the Universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Pennsylvania. He is a Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medallist and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto and Daltech, in Nova Scotia. He is a Member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is the founder of Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated, which has received numerous national and international awards for design and sustainability. Diamond lives in Toronto.

Jack Diamond's profile page

Don Gillmor is the author of the Libris Award-winning Canada: A People's History as well as six books for children. He was a contributing editor to Saturday Night magazine and has won many awards for journalism. He is currently senior editor of Walrus magazine.

Don Gillmor's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The Toronto firm of Diamond & Schmitt is responsible for some of the world's most celebrated buildings...and is a champion of urbanism and social responsibility. The 12 essays in this book...discuss such topics as context, collectivity, beauty, sustainability, the reuse of old structures and building for the arts and education."

Globe & Mail

"Along with essays about the past, present and future of architecture, the coffee table volume shows how one company can revolutionize the world of architecture, with a philosophy of elegance and sophistication that has made this firm so in-demand worldwide."

Shelf Life

"[Insight and On Site] discusses the transformative power of architecture, its relationship to community building and its ability to affect civic mood...With the global trend to urbanization and depletion of the planet's resources, building compact cities with sustainable architecture is a matter of both quality of life and survival."

Calgary Herald

"This book is a hugely refreshing treatise, an uplifting clarion call for architecture -- and cities -- that harness minimal materials for maximum usefulness."

National Post

"On a bright note, the prose itself does not succumb to the doltish and grammatically suspect bafflegab of so many architectural treatises. The gifts of co-author Don Gillmor, one of Canada's most talented magazine writers, have no doubt been well harnessed here, and Witold Rybczynski serves up some clear and straightforward interview questions...Diamond & Schmitt is justifiably renowned for good urbanism, consistently high-quality background buildings and the occasional subdued feature building."

Canadian Architect

"The sustainability-minded designs of Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects get the glossy treatment in this exhaustive compilation. [Insight and On Site] features dozens of plans, layouts and photographs, including the architects' best-known works, as well as a series of essays on sustainable modern cities."

Winnipeg Free Press

"This book is a must-read. Discussion is illustrated by their projects located both internationally and in Canada."

Edmonton Journal

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