Kohn Shnier Architects was founded in 1990 as a small, non-specialized practice. The work is characterized by its eminent practicality imbued with invention and often whimsy. The work has been described as being neither overly formal nor trendy; a balance of convention with invention.
Kohn Shnier Architects have established a reputation for bringing inventive and iconic solutions to a wide range of design challenges. At once restrained and expressive, Kohn Shnier creates contemporary environments that stand the test of time, yet never fail to delight, combining a sense of whimsy with common sense.
From Single Family Houses to University facilities, the office has successfully executed a number of significant buildings. Projects include the Umbra World Headquarters and The Umbra Concept Store; The Student Centre at The University of Toronto at Mississauga, The 519 Church Street Community Centre; The Jackman Humanities Institute; The Eric Arthur Gallery and Shore and Moffat Library at the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design, The EJ Pratt Library on the Victoria College Campus of The University of Toronto, and The Claude Watson School for the Arts.
Widely recognized, Kohn Shnier Architects have received numerous Ontario Association of Architects Awards, City of Toronto Urban Design Awards and Design Exchange Awards. While being featured in Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, Kohn Shnier’s work has also been published in important international compendiums including 1000 x Architects of the Americas, The Phaidon Atlas of World Architecture and Architecture NOW! Vol.2.
Research into an alternative residential stream has resulted in the development of an innovative contemporary prototype for Royal Homes, manufacturers of pre-fabricated factory built houses. The “Q-Series” has received widespread praise including designation by Fortune Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Ideas of 2004”. An offshoot of this venture has resulted in the constructions of a two family home, comprised of seven combined prefabricated modules, on a lakeside site in Muskoka.
Kohn Shnier Architects have also developed new products for Teknion Furniture Systems. Spandrobe, a compact storage unit for the minimal work environment, was chosen to be exhibited at “Workspheres” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has since been selected to become part of the MoMA’s permanent collection. They have also been nominated for the prestigious Chrysler Design Award and an Emerging Voices Award from the New York Architectural League.
Prior to Forming Kohn Shnier Architects, Martin Kohn worked in Rotterdam at OMA, the office of Pritzker Prize winning Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas.
John Shnier was a former associate at Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and then became the first recipient of the Canadian Prix de Rome in Architecture. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design at The University of Toronto and a former holder of the Sheff Visiting Chair in Architecture at McGill University in Montreal.