National challenge calls on design community for COVID-19 solutions | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

National challenge calls on design community for COVID-19 solutions


OTTAWA June 3, 2020–A new Canada-wide challenge launched Wednesday to generate responsible, sustainable, and resilient design solutions that can be implemented during COVID-19 recovery, and post-pandemic, for Canada’s hard-hit main streets 


The Main Street Design Challenge – developed by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) – invites all Canadian residents interested in place-making and design to develop solutions that can help build the resiliency of Canada’s main streets.  


The reality is that COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on the people, businesses and organizations that call Canada’s main streets home. Many small businesses, for example, have already been lost, and more will continue to close permanently in the coming days, weeks, and months. 


The Challenge will demonstrate how design will play a key role in the revitalization of main streets, including kickstarting the economy, fostering vibrant, liveable, and healthy communities, increasing public safety, reducing social isolation, and restoring the public’s confidence to return to streets and public spaces.  


The Challenge will also foster knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and expand access to the tools communities need to rebuild during  and after  the global health emergency.  


“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on Canada’s main streets. And as we look towards recovery, we know that the design community will play a critical role in developing creative solutions to help bring back our main streets,” said Mary Rowe, CEO of CUI. 


"The main street of any city, town, or urban centre, across Canada has the potential to be the vibrant and vital heart of the community," said RAIC President John Brown FRAIC "Our organization supports the investment and promotion of design excellence in this core component of the built environment." 


Further information and guidelines on the Main Street Design Challenge are available here. 


An online portal will be open for submissions beginning June 22, 2020. All submissions that meet the project guidelines will be published online on a rolling basis in a free, open-access Main Street Design Playbook to inspire action by any organization, municipality, or individual. The Playbook will be released in full on October 5, 2020 (World Architecture Day)  


The Main Street Design Challenge is an initiative of Bring Back Main Street, a nationally coordinated research and action campaign by the CUI to ensure the people, businesses, and organizations that that call Canada’s Main Streets home can recover and emerge from the crisis more resilient than ever.    


About CUI 

As Canada’s Urban Institute, CUI is the national platform that houses the best in Canadian city-building – where policymakers, urban professionals, civic and business leaders, community activists, and academics can learn, share, and collaborate with one another from coast to coast to coast. CUI is leading the Bring Back Main Street campaign with the support of partners from across the country.  


About RAIC 

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is a not-for-profit, national organization that has represented architects and architecture for over 100 years, in existence since 1907. The RAIC is the leading voice for excellence in the built environment in Canada, demonstrating how design enhances the quality of life, while addressing important issues of society through responsible architecture. The RAIC’s mission is to promote excellence in the built environment and to advocate for responsible architecture. The organization national office is based in Ottawa with a growing federated chapter model. Current chapters and networks are based in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia. 


Supporting Partners for the Main Street Design Challenge 

CUI and RAIC gratefully acknowledge the following Supporting Partners: Canadian Institute of Planners, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Council for Canadian Urbanism, ICOMOS Canada, National Trust for Canada, OCAD University, Rues principales STEPS Initiative, Trinity Centres Foundation.