Donald Chong, B.Arch, MRAIC, OAA


"Everything we want to do is elegantly approaching everything we need to do. In this way, architects can play part-steward and part-catalyst — towards a well-cradled and well-crafted built future."

After creating his own award-winning architectural studios, Donald became the first design principal for HDR in Toronto's studio and launched the research-based 'Future Studio.' Donald has been widely recognized for his broadly-scoped, well-detailed architectural works and for his research initiatives — efforts strongly regarded for their inventiveness and investment in place-making. His deepening and critically engaging portfolio has drawn interest internationally for Donald to speak, adjudicate and teach in academic and cultural institutions abroad, including venues in Tokyo, Aspen, Helsinki, Montreal, New York, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Zurich and Amsterdam. Learn more about Donald


Small Fridges Make Good Cities: Incremental Urbanism and Systems at Play

Can the choices we make in our own homes make a difference in our neighborhoods? Might main streets be more vibrant if we relied less on driving to big box stores? Can that fruit bowl really be a fruit bowl, replenished every few days vs. every other week? This concept — and the prototypical space that was created for it — aims to heighten the experience of the urban harvest where seasonality can resume its place in architecture and the city.

Along and Against: A Retroactive Narrative of Grain, Wood and Architecture

From a series of ‘field notes’ in which competing structural and material elements begin to reveal the emergence (or perhaps re-emergence) of wood, Donald follows the curiously recurring though entirely versatile material of choice in his own selected architectural projects in both rural and urban settings. The speculative trajectories leading up to and also springing from the work begin to offer a new vantage point where one resituates the role of the architect as an unwitting yet entirely necessary steward for the material reconnection of design to its surroundings.

Donald won the prestigious 2012 Canada Council Prix de Rome and The Architectural League’s 2014 Emerging Voices Award. In 2010, he was shortlisted to The Marcus Foundation Architectural Prize, and was recognized in Dwell Magazine’s ‘The Future Issue.’

Speaking + Publications

  • “Architecture and The Urban Detail: A Canadian Perspective,” Aspen Art Museum Art Lectures, Aspen, CO, September 2014
  • “Instruments and Infrastructure: The Architect as Catalyst,” PAQS Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, July 2017
  • “Along and Against: A Retroactive Narrative of Grain, Wood and Architecture,” Wood at Work Conference, New York, NY, October 2015
  • “Wood, Detail, Culture,” Studio Lecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, April 2013
  • “Incremental Urbanism and Architecture,” Kengo Kuma Studio Lecture, University of Tokyo, August 2014
  • “Small Fridges Make Good Cities: Incremental Urbanism and Systems at Play,” Studio Lecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Copenhagen, April 2014
  • “I Draw to See: Studio, Sketches and Study,” University of Massachusetts (Amherst), June 2010
  • “Manual Reset: Working Prototypes in Barcelona,” by Donald Chong, V1 Magazine, August 2010
  • “Reinforcing Concrete, or Why Swiss Architecture is More Than Skin Deep,” by Donald Chong, Building Magazine, July 2003
  • “Landscape Urbanism and Architecture in the North American Ravine,” Masters Design Studio, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, March 2002
  • “Site Unseen: Laneway Architecture and Urbanism in Toronto,” book by Donald Chong and Brigitte Shim, 2004
  • “Williamson Chong: Studio and The Narrative,” The Architectural League of New York, Emerging Voices Awards Lecture, New York, NY, March 2014

Award Juries

  • Be Inspired Infrastructure and Architecture Awards, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2010
  • Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, Toronto, Ontario, 2012
  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Awards of Excellence, Ottawa, Ontario, 2014
  • Green Construction through Wood Awards, National Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario 2018