Douglas J. Cardinal, O.C., Ph.D. (h.c.)
B.Arch., O.A.A, A.I.A, A.A.A., M.A.A., S.A.A., O.C., R.C.A.A., F.R.A.I.C., F.R.I.A.S,
Family Nature Parcs and Fred L Farha are honored and privileged to announce his appointment of as our Chief Architect & Senior Advisor.

Douglas Cardinal the internationally acclaimed Canadian architect of Métis and Blackfoot heritage will inspire our dreams for the realization of our first community outdoor sport and recreational facility in Ashton, Ottawa then spreading our outdoor wellness FNPs across Canada and the world.

Douglas Cardinal expresses his buildings in a signature style of harmonius curvilinear forms. Yet, the elegance of his designs is not limited to aesthetics- he has a deep understanding of architecture as a tool to better the world. A proponent of Organic Architecture, Douglas Cardinal understands architecture as a holistic enterprise where all members of the architectural process conjunctively create a legacy for the future. Indeed, Douglas believes that each building takes a life of its own as a living, organic being shaped in close partnership with the client and all stake holders.

As an architect, Douglas Cardinal has created a practice where he brings clients’ visions into reality. Douglas believes we humans have a responsibility to our gift of creativity, and that with our wills connected, we can create anything. To make this happen, Douglas Cardinal’s unique architectural process starts with a Vision Session. He encourages the client to analyze all aspects of the usage of a space by studying the empirical, practical, emotional and spiritual needs of a building. Thus his buildings are designed with a soul, which is found in the intentions and the deepest hopes and desires of all stake holders. In this unique and rigorous exercise, the client can clearly identify all resources needed – be it technological, professional or financial – that will be required in completing the project. Ultimately, it is not the architect that creates the buildings, but the client; it is their vision, their financing, and their social commitment that organically grows a built environment that reflects their projected identity. The architect gives shape to and coordinates the intricacies of the clients’ visions for a building.

Precisely because he believes there is no end to our capability to create that which is envisioned, Douglas Cardinal has defied rectilinear conventional principles of architecture. As early as the 1960’s he began using the amazing capability of computers in order to calculate the complex organic forms, most notably in the curved roof of his first masterpiece, St. Mary’s church in Red Deer, Alberta. He incorporated the technology further to increase the dimensioning precision and affordability of his organic forms, and by the late 1970’s Douglas Cardinal Architect became the first architectural practice to be entirely computerized, utilizing an architectural program designed exclusively for the firm. St. Albert Place, in St. Albert, Alberta – now designated a historic building – was the first building in the world to be built with totally computerized architectural technology to dimension all construction drawings. Douglas Cardinal’s unique approach to computers extends beyond the conceptual design phase, as he constructs in three dimensions with detail accuracy to at least ten decimal places. His exceptional use of computer software is unparalleled to this day, as he integrates computer technology in a manner which creatively encourages the evolution of techniques and technologies of the construction and trade industries. All this creates better architecture.


Douglas, his wife Idoia and young team.

Douglas Cardinal’s life is dedicated to creating beautiful, thriving harmonious built environments. As an architect he builds buildings, as a planner and activist he builds communities, and as a leader and philosopher he builds bridges between dispersed cultures all over the world. Douglas Cardinal personifies the timelessness of a masterbuilder.

Born in 1934 in Calgary, Alberta, his mother augured early in his childhood that he would become an architect. His architectural studies at The University of British Columbia took him to Austin, Texas, where he worked at Jesson Milhouse Greeven with Fred Day and acquired scholarships to study at the renowned School of Architecture at the The University of Texas. There he found an intellectually stimulating and socially invigorating environment where in addition to his education in architecture, he benefitted from actively involving himself in the many human rights initiatives ignited in the United States in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This commitment to bettering human conditions continues to be one of the major principles of his architecture, from the smallest detail to the overall design or masterplan. He continues his holistic multidisciplinary practice in Ottawa, Ontario where he currently resides.

Douglas is a forerunner of all philosophies of sustainability, green buildings and ecologically designed community planning. His architecture springs from his observations of Nature and his understanding that everything works seamlessly together. For him this principle is exemplified by the organic signature works of Borromini, Gaudi, Rudolph Steiner and Frank Lloyd Wright – all of whom have also substantiated such aliveness through beauty and grace in their architecture. Indeed, Douglas believes that the practical needs humans have for architecture must also include beauty if we are to achieve true sustainability and harmonious communities.

In recognition of such a wonderful principle, Douglas Cardinal has received many acknowledgments and awards including: fourteen Honourary Doctorates from several universities in Canada and the United States, the appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada – the greatest honour Canada as a nation bestows to its citizens, the Gold Medals in Architecture from the Royal Architectural Institute in Canada and the Union of Architects of Russia, honourary fellowships to the Society of American Registered Architects and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the declaration of being “World Master of Contemporary Architecture” as a Professor and Academician by the International Association of Architects.

Douglas Cardinal is one of the visionaries of a new world where beauty, balance and harmony thrive, and where client, architect, and stakeholder build together in a common vision. His Curriculum Vitae and all the awards achieved throughout his brilliant career are simply a testimony of what the partnership of architect and client can achieve together.

Note: Photos courtesy by Bruno Schlumberger, Ottawa Citizen with thanks.