- Research and Graduate Studies
- Contact Us
- Apply Now
How an architect from Sharjah is shaping the community of Hamilton, Canada
Moving from the UAE to Canada, architect and artist Petra Matar has found her place in the eclectic Canadian city of Hamilton, contributing to its growth as one of Canada’s most livable communities.
Matar arrived in Canada with her family in 2011 following her graduation from American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) acclaimed College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) and found herself knocking on the door of local boutique architecture firm DPAI Architecture Inc. looking for her first job as an architect. Fast forward 10 years and she has just been promoted to Partner of the same firm.
Looking back, Matar credits her success to her internationally recognized architecture degree from AUS—the first program outside of North America to be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in the United States. Her involvement in the AUS Student Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIAS) even contributed towards CAAD gaining this accreditation, as she and her classmates were able to demonstrate the college’s positive studio culture and respectful learning environment of optimism, sharing, engagement and innovation among faculty and students.
“This accreditation was pivotal in my career in North America because, while my degree from CAAD is a Bachelor of Architecture, in North America it is considered a professional degree. This means that when I was starting out in Canada I was so much further ahead of my peers in Canada, where architects are required to have a master’s degree in order for their qualifications to be considered professional,” she said.
A key value AUS aims to instill in its students is a strong sense of social responsibility. It was this shared value that attracted her to DPAI Architecture Inc. and that has kept her in Hamilton for a decade.
“Hamilton is a place where there is a lot to do as an architect, and add to that that I found a great creative and music scene. But there are also a lot of social issues to address, and through my career in architecture, I want to be able to positively contribute to the place where I live. As the city grows and changes, I get to participate early on in its growth,” she said.
Being part of a boutique firm has allowed Matar to contribute broadly to the firm’s success while shaping Hamilton’s architectural landscape—from helping design the firm’s brand identity to managing a wide variety of projects, from single-family residences to multi-unit residential complexes, municipal projects such as fire stations and libraries, as well as urban master planning. This ability, she said, comes from her CAAD experience.
“Most architecture schools have a ‘thing’ where they only teach you one kind of architecture. But AUS was unique in that our professors came from varied backgrounds and introduced us to a wide range of ideologies and approaches to architecture and design. This exposure introduced us to different paths we could take as architects and designers and choose what best resonated with us. I think that’s why a lot of CAAD graduates don’t end up doing the same thing,” said Matar.
Matar’s impact is already being felt in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area through her recent work with various local municipalities to develop building standards and urban planning policies.
“I’m grateful to be able to participate in the shaping of Canadian towns and cities, and hope to bring value through my CAAD education and experience since to both my practice and the place I live in,” she said.
For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.