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.
Edward was introduced to the world of construction at an early age, designing and building small pieces of furniture with his father for use in the family home. Learning the proper use of tools and construction materials imparted an appreciation for all things mechanical and instilled a desire to design beautiful functional objects that would “just work”. Today Edward can be found renovating his cottage and residence to suit his growing family’s needs, finding satisfaction in seeing his own designs progress realized from drawings to structure.
Edward entered the design industry in the field of urban design after completing a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning assisting clients develop their visions first into diagrams and then into master plans. Following this experience, he earned a Master of Architecture studying design at a human scale and incorporating lessons learned at the city-scale to his work. In practice, Edward continues to explore the element of craft in his work – finding the intersection of human scale and the city.
As a Director and Registered Interior Designer ARIDO, Patty leads the firm’s interiors work, driving end-user consultation, conceptual design, space planning, FF&E and project management. Patty creatively and deftly employs design elements and principles, adding texture and depth that is both functional and aesthetic.
Originally from the Maritimes, she began her career with major airline, while residing in Quebec City. During this time, she honed her French language and client relation skills. Patty later landed in Toronto to pursue a career in Interior Design, where she gained experience in the corporate commercial, institutional and healthcare design sectors.
Drawn to its vibrant arts scene, architecture and engaged community, Patty relocated to Hamilton, where she sought an architecture firm committed to urban renewal.
Today, she is dedicated to a variety of community-building initiatives, such as the Sherman Hub Newspaper where she contributes as a writer and Copy Editor. You can also find her honing her skills as #31 Redrum, a Smash Squad League Member with Hammer City Roller Derby.
Emira is a graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently studying at McMaster’s Centre for Continuing Education, working towards a diploma in Accounting and CPA designation. She has over three year’s experience working as an audit assistant and an accountant.
Emira is an admirer of music and was part of different music clubs in her home country of Kosovo. On her free time, you can find her singing.
Originally from Prince Edward Island, Drew became involved in the arts at an early age in the form of sewing and painting. She took this creative interest to paper, completing a journalism diploma at Holland College, and later a Bachelor of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University. It was during this time she realized the impact and power of storytelling as a tool for good. Now, as a new Hamiltonian and dpai’s marketing coordinator, Drew works to distill complex abstractions into content that moves and engages the community.
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 downtown 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 18 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 concert and soccer games. He can also be spotted going for long nighttime runs to keep his creative energy flowing.
Petra Matar grew up in the 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 educational, commercial, residential, and urban design projects. Passionate about good design, Petra believes in its power to create a better world.
Petra is 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 firms 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. Jamie has a stellar track record of successfully meeting deliverable targets, receiving positive feedback from clients and end-users.
Yesenia has more than 10 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). Previously, she 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.
Sandy brings over 25 years of creative exploration through roles in urban design, urban planning, graphic design and marketing, as well as co-founding a successful independent recording company that manufactures, markets and distributes music globally. In 2001, Sandy made the decision to pursue architecture.
He studied urban design and regional planning, receiving a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo. He went on to receive a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto. Raised and rooted in Hamilton, he actively contributes to improving and shaping the city, through a conscious and creative career path in design and architecture.
Since an early age David has always been fascinated by architecture and the concepts behind building construction. While growing up in Hamilton, David became increasingly interested in the ever-changing back-drop of the city. Having worked in Hamilton for 5 years with a focus on Residential and Commercial projects, David brings a solid understanding of architectural details and a strong work-ethic.
With a passion for art and the city, David has joined dpai to help shape his hometown into a better place. When out of the office David enjoys travelling to new destinations, as well as walking and taking in the local sites the city has to offer.
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.
Graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture undergraduate and graduate programs, Ryan is a skilled designer and fabricator fascinated by innovation. Ryan is a Hamilton native with office experience in studios across North America. He has also participated in the manufacture and install of art installations, most notably “The Evidence Room” exhibit displayed at both the Royal Ontario Museum, and Hirshhorn Museum.
“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.