DPAI architecture is a values-driven, award-winning, full-service architecture, interiors and urban design studio, taking a context-first approach to design. The firm was established in Hamilton in 2005 by founding principal and CEO David Premi, who brings over 30 years of experience to the firm. We are focused on urban renewal, sustainability and the strengthening of community through design excellence in the built environment.
DPAI’s work encompasses diverse project types, emphasizing a balance between bold vision and grounded, design-driven solutions. The firm is fueled by collaboration and engagement with Clients to elevate their vision. Our public sector clients include Universities, Colleges, Libraries, Churches, and Municipalities. Our extensive private sector portfolio includes Mixed use, Health care, commercial interiors, residential, and retail.
DPAI’s work is regularly published in local, national and international online and print publications including: Architectural Record, The Globe and Mail, Dwell, ArchDaily, Swedish print magazine Nyarum, Canadian Architect, Architect Magazine, Canadian Interiors, Home Adore, Architecture Lab, e-architect, Design Milk, and Archilovers.
David is regarded as a community leader in his hometown of Hamilton, ON. He serves as a board member for the Chamber of Commerce and is the former chair of the Hamilton Arts Council. David’s advocacy led to the establishment of a Design Review Panel in Hamilton.
Throughout his 30-year career, his focus has been on elevating the language of design, its place in the community and its relationship to city building—an approach that’s typified by an OAA Award of Excellence, and a Chicago Athenaeum Award for the design of Hamilton Public Library and Farmer’s Market.
Patty is a Principal of the firm, and a Registered Interior Designer with ARIDO who brings more than 16 years’ experience in the architecture and interiors field. Since joining DPAI over 8 years ago, she has made invaluable contributions to the firm’s growth with the development of a flourishing interiors division within the corporate commercial, institutional and healthcare design sectors.
Patty is motivated by people engagement and relishes the relationship-building aspect of her profession. She gains inspiration through her values-based approach, the stories people tell.
Inclusive design is the root of Patty’s approach, advocating for equitable participation by every community affected by the design process. Her process is open and transparent. Through open dialog with her clients and people she meets, she adds these important conversations about inclusion and what that means to the design process, especially for those who have been marginalized.
Patty is an exceptionally warm and insightful person, a talented and innovative designer, and a passionate leader. She has been instrumental in strengthening DPAI’s business operations and motivating our people to move forward with confidence and purpose.
Benita is an artist and musician who writes and performs in the group Persons. Originally from Ottawa, ON, she studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal, where she specialized in textiles, printmaking and video art. Benita moved to Hamilton in 2014, where she co-founded Casino Artspace. She has a passion for group fitness and can be found teaching classes at the YMCA.
Pablo holds a master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Toronto, and received his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. He has over 20 years of experience managing a wide range of projects throughout all phases of design and construction – from site planning, programming and schematic design to detail drawings and contract administration. Pablo brings a wealth of knowledge about building codes and accessibility standards as well as extensive experience working with municipal authorities throughout all phases of approvals.
Pablo was drawn to Hamilton’s authentic character and urban grit as well as DPAI’s urban renewal work. In his spare time, he can be found at film festivals, music concerts and soccer games. He can also be spotted going for long nighttime runs to keep his creative energy flowing.
Petra Matar grew up in Dubai, UAE, and graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a degree in Architecture. She joined the firm in 2011 shortly after her graduation and has worked on a wide range of project types including institutional, commercial, residential, and urban design projects.
Petra is passionate about good design in all aspects of a project from its management to the end product delivered. Petra’s approach to work is highly organized both in process and presentation. She guides all her projects with a clear road map that helps everyone involved visualize the process and participate in it. Her work is marked by clarity in visual communication and good aesthetic.
As a Passive House Certified Designer, Petra brings this knowledge into projects she works on with the aim of designing a good product for the client, community, and the environment.
She is also a practicing visual and installation artist who values creativity and seeks beauty in everything she makes. Her work has been featured at Supercrawl and in several group and solo shows in Hamilton, Dubai and Sharjah. She is also a graphic designer with extensive self-taught knowledge in art direction and branding.
Jamie is DPAI’s Senior Architectural Technologist with a passion for all things BIM (Building Information Modelling). During the last 15 years, he has worked in England, New Zealand and Canada. Most recently, he worked with a leading design firm in NZ and had the privilege of collaborating with some of the best architects and technologists in the country. There he helped transition the team from traditional CAD to BIM while gaining experience working on many award wining projects. He has been busy implementing and refining our advanced BIM processes, many that were being utilized overseas already, into our project workflow. Jamie has a stellar track record of successfully meeting deliverable targets, receiving positive feedback from clients and end-users.
Yesenia has more than 14 years’ experience designing residences, offices and retail spaces. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Universidad Simón Bolívar (Venezuela) and a Master of Arts in Architecture and Interior Design from London Metropolitan University (England). She has worked on a variety of small to medium-sized new projects, build-outs and renovations, and has been part of award-winning teams in private and public competitions. She is a detail-oriented designer who works to create functional, harmonious, innovative and eye pleasing living spaces.
Originally from Jordan, Ala grew up studying ancient cities such as Petra and Jerash. The intricate spaces created by ancient civilizations sparked her imagination, and at a young age realized the impact of great architecture. Today, she enjoys exploring different possibilities with space, materials and colours. As an architect, she aims to create something beautiful for people to live, interact with, and forever remember.
Ala received her B.Arch from Petra University in Jordan, and her M.Arch from the University of Waterloo. She is a passionate photographer, traveller and enjoys reading and writing poetry.
Aasiya's fascination for art and architecture sparked from having lived in various cities of the world. Originally from India, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Measi Academy of Architecture, India, and a Master's in Sustainable Architecture from the University of Sheffield, England. Prior to joining DPAI, she worked with firms both in India and the Middle East on several high-rise residential, commercial and institutional projects. Her focus in design is to create social, interactive spaces that foster well-being.
Aasiya is an advocate of eco-conscious practices and is trying to implement them in her daily life. She wants to explore the ideas of sustainable and responsible travelling and a lifestyle of minimalism. She is a passionate nature lover, enjoys creative writing, reading, hiking and exploring the city.
Sofia is a marketing and business development professional with over 12 years experience managing strategic campaigns and branding initiatives, primarily within the public sector. As a born and raised Hamiltonian, Sofia graduated from McMaster University with an Hns. BA in English and Fine Art. Sofia started her career in conservation, leading the events and business development efforts for the organization. After contributing to a significant roster of major ecotourism and culture-driven initiatives, Sofia made the move to a GTA municipality where she acted as the marketing lead for the Arts and Culture Division. Now, back in her hometown, Sofia brings her passion and creativity to DPAI.
Sofia is continually seeking adventure in the outdoors and always has a story to share about a place she visited or an interesting person that she met. Among her may hobbies, Sofia also plays and coaches several sports and enjoys expressing her creativity through sewing and textiles.
Cecilia is an experienced financial manager and is exceptionally skilled at strategic growth planning and improving profitability. Prior to joining the DPAI team, Cecilia worked for notable e-commerce and retail brands such as Cleo and Carters OshKosh. With her warm and upbeat nature, Cecilia exemplifies the people side of finance and enjoys the teamwork and camaraderie that comes with her role. Cecilia is deeply devoted to her family and cares immensely for her community and supporting cause-driven initiatives. She has both planned and participated in large-scale fundraisers for organizations such as the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Breast Cancer Society and Diabetes Association, to name a few. In her daily life, Cecilia is always considering ways that she can give back, be it making regular donations to her local library or participating in regular blood drives.
Saadman is a graduate from the University of Waterloo who has experience working and studying architecture in cities such as Rome, New York, Toronto and Netherlands. Originally born in Bangladesh and raised in Canada, he holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, and is currently working towards becoming a licensed architect. Saadman’s passion lies in small to medium scale architecture including retail, residential and religious architecture, and his focus is to create spaces which bring out the true value of good design.
Saadman loves travelling to new cities and countries, hiking in nature, and sketching buildings. He also enjoys cooking, grilling, and experimenting with different types of spices to create new dishes.
“I and my colleagues have worked with a number of architects over the years on everything from small renovations to large multi-building developments. In that time we have never worked with a firm that addressed our needs over imposing their ‘vision’ in the way that DPAI has. That is not to say that DPAI hasn’t been prepared to propose alternatives to what we had contemplated, but that the entire process has been respectful of what Good Shepherd was trying to achieve. Also, in so many cases, the principal of an architectural firm is what one often ‘buys’ and the strength of their support team is often difficult to judge and in my experience, has in some cases been inadequate. I can say that there is a very strong team at DPAI.
Finally I want to mention something about the actual development process that has been unique in our experience with DPAI. Developing, whether through renovations or by starting new is fraught with challenges and frequently leads to some very difficult conversations among the design team. I and others that I’ve worked with have all commented on how different it has been working with DPAI where we can have the ‘tough’ conversations without them being ‘difficult’ ones as well. This in and of itself is one of the best reasons that I can think of to work with someone and we will continue to work with DPAI in the future.”Alan J. Whittle, Director, Community Relations & Planning Good Shepherd Hamilton
“It has been a pleasure to work with DPAI on our art studio expansion and renovation project at McMaster University. DPAI’s friendly consultation throughout the process was effective and much appreciated. They applied their expertise to our unique demands, arriving at aesthetically dynamic solutions for a complex network of work spaces. The result is a functionally and visually cohesive space.”Judy Major-Girardin, Professor and Project Team Lead, McMaster School of the Arts
“ In all the projects we have worked with David Premi and his team on we have found their consistent commitment to understanding our needs and then translating those into innovative designs that addresses our needs and aspirations in ways we did not envision. They have brought to every project an attitude of being our advocates while being willing to take chances on providing design solutions that help us create sustainable and exciting solutions. It has been very rewarding to work with the DPAI team. Every project has challenges and having DPAI on our side has helped us overcome the challenges we have faced.”Paul Takala, Chief Librarian/CEO Hamilton Public Library
“Theatre Aquarius, like many institutions in the non-profit sector, has big dreams, grand visions, and limited resources. That is exactly why a partner like DPAI architecture has been so essential for us. They share our inspiration, and have the flexibility and responsiveness to help us actualize those ideas, while taking innovative approaches to ensure that the finished project reflects the vision, and not the roadblocks that were overcome along the way.”Lorna Zaremba, General Manager Theatre Aquarius
“DPAI were the lead architects for the renovations to Hamilton’s Central Library. The building had been a prime example of seventies brutalist architecture, with all of the dark and cold connotations. David Premi and his team saw the building’s potential, which we didn’t. I have worked with many architects on many projects; this project was the first time I found myself letting go, confident that our hopes and visions for the building were being heard and were being translated into a workable plan combined with an amazing AWE factor. The result is a remarkable, iconic building that the public has embraced as their own. One of my favourite moments, as a librarian, was the day it re-opened after eighteen months of renovations. I stood, with David, just inside the front doors and watched people, with delight in their eyes, enter and quickly understand - intuitively - each space. Use of the building skyrocketed and has remained high ever since the transformation performed by David and his team.”Ken Roberts, former Chief Librarian Hamilton Public Library
“Thank you all SO MUCH for all your work on this project! We have all added a little bit of ourselves to the history of this building.”Jennifer Stacey, General Manager Ryerson Student Centre
“From start to finish, the team from DPAI was amazing to work with. Their attention to detail, commitment to quality work and focus on customer service resulted in an outcome that far surpassed our expectations. We were renovating an existing use research and educational space in an older building on a limited budget. The team from DPAI took the time to thoroughly assess our current and future needs and managed to channel our vision into design features that have had a lasting positive impact on all users of the space. We have found that the space is adaptable to our needs, robust in terms of utilization and comfortable and energizing to work in.”Maureen Jane MacDonald Ph.D., Professor & Acting Chair Department of Kinesiology, Acting Director PACE
“It was a pleasure for us to work with architects who understood so much about student needs and have a solid grounding in trends in the evolution and transformation of libraries. David and his team were very collaborative and responsive to our needs. They were ultimately able to unlock the potential within the constraints of a challenging building and were able to translate our vision into a dynamic learning space. The result resonates deeply with our students who have commented that the new space motivates, inspires and energizes them. Their only complaint is that we haven’t yet done the same with the rest of the library. I would welcome the opportunity to work with DPAI again would recommend their team without hesitation.”Chief Librarian Mark Robertson Brock University
“I was impressed on many levels with the DPAI team. They are professional, responsive, respectful and did a very good job of engaging all the stakeholders in the process. They were flexible and accommodating to the changing scope and requirements of the project. The space has been transformed from a 20 year old traditional learning environment to a modern, energetic and creative space that attracts students from all across campus.”Paul Armstrong, Vice President, Academic Mohawk College
We are proud to announce that DPAI architect, Petra Matar, is now a certified Passive House Institute Designer!
David Premi, Principal and CEO; Jamie Schneider, Senior Architectural Technologist; and David Svoboda, Architectural Technologist, also recently completed the 120A: Passive House Design and Construction course, covering the technical, economic and policy elements of Passive House buildings.
Passive House is considered to be the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today. Passive House buildings consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings. Applicable to almost any building type or design, the Passive House high performance building standard is the only internationally recognized, proven, science-based energy standard in construction. Certification with the Passive House Institute ensures that designers, consultants and components are qualified to create buildings that meet the Standard.
Our mission is to make the International Passive House standard of building performance understood, achievable, and adopted by government, industry, professionals, and homeowners across Canada through education, advocacy, events, and building projects.
Passive House Canada is a national non-profit professional association advocating for the Passive House high-performance building standard. Passive House is recognized internationally as the proven best way to build for comfort, affordability and energy efficiency of residential, institutional and commercial buildings, through all stages of design, construction, and livability.
We were founded in 2013 as the Canadian Passive House Institute West (CanPHI West) and became Passive House Canada | Maison Passive Canada in 2016 in response to demand from the building community to form a single national organization. We facilitate the adoption of the Passive House Standard through our advocacy work, education program, and nation-wide events.