STEPHEN VAN DER MEER
OAA, M.ARCH, BEDS, BA
I'm a graduate of Dalhousie University and the University of Western Ontario. I've spent the last 10 years working on libraries, offices , public buildings, and community centres and learned a lot from some great people in the process.
I've decided that there are a few things that define my approach. I like to think of every project as a portrait of the client. Gardens and landscapes should be as important as the buildings. Sustainability and economy go hand in hand and the best buildings are simple places that help you feel present in your life.
Influences on my work can come from anywhere but a few points of reference are the lanes around our office, mountain huts, campers, kids and modernists.
I started out studying fine arts. I found my way to architecture, and after university worked at various design-based architecture firms in Toronto.
I generally head in the direction of warm minimalism, materials that feel good in my hands, and find that simplicity and detail are not mutually exclusive. I believe the spaces we put ourselves in should reflect our values - whether it's the outdoors, rolling around on the floor with our kids, or working with efficiency. I've seen over and over again how design can have a profound effect on one's life. Finding the Wayback is looking to tradition but mostly so we can break with it.
I grew up in Sebec, Maine-a microscopic town in New England-‘You can’t get there from here.’
My father is a cabinetmaker so there was always a woodworking shop just around the corner. I worked with him on occasion. My first real job was at the Northwoods Canoe Company after school and during the summer. I guess somewhere between helping my dad with kitchen installations and building wood and canvas canoes I found an appreciation for craft and building things. If nothing else, I developed a high tolerance for sanding.
I studied in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I first met Steve and Kirsty. I hold a Master of Architecture from Dalhousie University. I worked in Boston for a bit, London a bit longer and then at Environmental Works in Seattle, Washington for a few years on multi-family housing projects before moving to Toronto in 2009. I joined Kirsty after gaining experience at several design driven architectural firms in the city. We ran Bruce STUDIO together until 2016.
My dog’s name is Jimmy. He has interchangeable last names – Carter, McNulty, Page…. Jim Beam on occasion. He may be here when you visit.
OAA, RAIC, M.ARCH, BEDS
April 6, 1982 - April 20, 2016
Kirsty began her architectural training at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia with Steve and Jordan. Accelerating through a Bachelor of Environmental Design, she won the Rosetti Scholarship for her thesis research, which allowed her to travel to Scandinavia and explore the work of Alvar Aalto. She completed her Master of Architecture and won the Gold Medal Thesis Prize.
Kirsty returned to Toronto in 2007 to work for ERA Architects and begin her professional career knowing without a doubt that she would become an Architect and run her own practice one day. She did, and she did it well.
In 2011 Kirsty registered her business, Bruce STUDIO, that autumn she completed her exams to become a Licensed Architect and by the spring of 2012 she was practicing. Kirsty bought a rundown laneway house on Plymouth Avenue that would become her first independent project and launch her practice. Jordan Winters joined her shortly thereafter. And then Suzanna Macdonald climbed aboard. Together, they worked on over 50 projects, over half of which were realized. Her preliminary work, ideas and affection for adaptive reuse and sensitive building design carry on with Wayback.
Kirsty left us suddenly in 2016. We remember that her talent, drive and ambition were secondary only to her optimism and beaming smile. We carry on with broad shoulders and fond memories.