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Colin Neufeld, Johanna Hurme and Sasa Radulovic.

Meet the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement recipients

Learn about the journey of the principals of 5468796 Architecture Inc. from students to world-renowned architects

June 8, 2023 — 

Colin Neufeld [BEnvD/00, MArch/03], Johanna Hurme [BEnvD/99, MArch/02] and Sasa Radulovic [BEnvD/99, MArch/03], principals of 5468796 Architecture Inc., have been recognized around the world for their bold and groundbreaking work, inspiring a generation of architects here in Winnipeg, nationally and across the globe. Since graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Master of Architecture program, the 5468796 principals have been demonstrating leadership both in the professional design community and the public, advocating for alternative approaches to community-building and value-conscious design, educating a new generation of designers to innovate and question, and elevating the way we think and live in our cities. 

“When I think about my time in the Faculty of Architecture, I remember how intense it was. We were there all hours of the night, but from all that we created some great, lifelong relationships,” says Neufeld. “I am Manitoban in its truest sense, so, in graduating from UM, it really shaped my sense of understanding of where I’m from which has helped us build a practice here and form an architectural response to here.” 

“I remember walking out of studio class after the first day in Environmental Design at the Faculty of Architecture and thinking that my entire way of seeing the world was changing,” says Hurme. “The experience was truly transformational and certainly shaped the way we approach our practice today. I am grateful to have been challenged by the faculty members to think critically, see multiple perspectives and ultimately to find what’s unique within and worthy to share through architecture with the world.”  

“Today in practice, and almost daily, we go back to the ideas, thinking, and rigour that were imparted to us during the years at UM. That knowledge foundation acts as a ‘north star’ when we are making decisions in the constantly changing landscape of architectural practice,” says Radulovic. 

In addition to the traditional commissions of architecture, the principals have built a ‘practice ecosystem’ – a holistic practice model that includes parallel streams of architectural and community activism, teaching, research, political and social engagement, and thought leadership. Neufeld, Hurme and Radulovic have spearheaded numerous acclaimed public events and programs to engage communities in creative urban planning and to celebrate how design thinking can meaningfully contribute to societal well-being. For example, One Bucket at a Time was a public installation that encouraged visitors to “fill the wave” of buckets through donations with each bucket used to construct the project sent back to Mexico “filled” with Canadian generosity. All proceeds were given to a Mexican orphanage for at-risk girls and young women located in Mexico City. 

“In Manitoba, we embrace innovation – not cool or glitzy innovation but rather innovation for a problem that needs to be solved. As architects, we love problems that need an innovative solution,” they say. “It’s why it’s so great to practice architecture here in Manitoba. It’s a place where we can truly make a difference. At our firm, we really embrace that in our projects and try to ensure they’re going to have an impact in the community.” 

The principals have inspired hundreds of students and architects by sharing their professional knowledge with the next generation through teaching engagements and mentorship of numerous architectural interns. They have taught in various capacities at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba since 2003, as well as through term engagements at the University of Montreal and the Daniels School of Architecture at the University of Toronto. In 2019, they were named Visiting Professor Morgenstern Chairs at the College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and in 2022 Hurme was invited to teach at Architecture, Art and Planning at the Cornell University, Ithaca NY, as the Gensler Visiting Critic for the spring term. 

“At our firm, we believe in not only being in the practice of architecture but being involved in all things architecture and education is a huge component of that and is one of our core values,” they say. “We’ve learned things through practicing here in Manitoba that we can give back to the students here and take to other cities and countries.” 

Their work has been published in over 250 discipline-specific books, magazines and journals. They have been awarded every significant Canadian recognition in architecture, including the highest honour in Canada – the Governor General Medal in Architecture – three times over. At the world stage, 5468796 Architecture Inc. has represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in Architecture and were subsequently selected as a recipient of the Professional Prix de Rome Award. They were also named as one of top 50 architectural practices worldwide by DOMUS in 2020. This year, the principals of 5468796 Architecture Inc. will receive the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement.  

“This award from the University of Manitoba is really humbling. It’s a huge honour and something we don’t take lightly,” they say. “With a lot of architecture awards, it’s you going out and asking for recognition, so this award means more because it’s a recognition from others. We went to school here, we practice here, we do most of our projects here and so it means a lot to have all of that recognized.” 

The 2023 University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration of Excellence presented by TD Insurance will be held September 21, 2023. For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit our website.  

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