Learning from Liveable Cities: The Joyce Drohan Travel Award

Joyce Mariann Drohan (1954-2022) was an award-winning Vancouver architect and urban designer of public sector projects and sustainable communities, and a part-time critic and faculty member in the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (UBC SALA). She believed that good urban design was crucial to creating liveable, Sustainable, and resilient cities that expressed the historic, cultural, and social dimensions of their communities. She also believed that knowledge and experience of international examples and best practices enabled designers to accomplish these goals in Canadian cities.

Joyce’s approach to urban design was humanist, timeless and honest. It was humanist because her design choices placed people, lived experience and human comfort above economic, fashionable, or political preferences. It was timeless because she wanted designs that endured even though they responded to the existing context, setting, and climate, and used contemporary methods of making and building. And it was honest in that she ensured that social, cultural, and historical influences were considered and appropriately reflected, while inviting future interpretations and interventions from an evolving community.

To learn more about Joyce Drohan, her work, her principles, and values, click here.

Award Description

Learning from Liveable Cities: The Joyce Drohan Travel Award is a $10,000 award given annually to a student enrolled in a graduate program at the UBC School Of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA). It is funded through gifts from the family and friends of Joyce Drohan (1954-2022), who taught urban design at the school and was an award-winning architect and urban designer of public sector projects and sustainable communities. Applicants must be in their second or graduating year of an eligible program and planning an international trip to expand their knowledge of sustainable architecture or sustainable urban design. Research that can be applied to Canadian cities is preferred. Students whose research includes collaboration with international students, municipalities, institutions, or non-governmental organizations are encouraged to apply. Joyce Drohan was especially interested in shaping meaningful places that expressed the historic, cultural, and social aspects of a community, underpinned by sustainable design. The award is made on the recommendation of the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, in consultation with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.


Deadline date: January 21, 2024

Your completed application form and all required support material must be submitted online through the UBC portal on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (Vancouver time). Incomplete or late applications will not be assessed.

Prize amount -- $10,000 CDN

The winner of the award will be announced on or about March 19th (Joyce Drohan’s birthday) at an event that includes a presentation by the previous recipient.

Eligibility – Who can apply?

Graduate students doing a research thesis or project that culminates in a master’s degree in urban design, architecture, or landscape architecture from the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. To be eligible as a student, you must be enrolled full-time at the school.

Activities – What can I apply for?

You can apply for travel that will support your research thesis or project. Your proposal may consist of multiple trips and destinations over a maximum of a one-year period from the grant of the award. Proposed activities can include:

  • Visits to cities that have found ways to successfully promote liveability, environmental sustainability, community engagement, or resilience.
  • Meetings with architects and urban designers in those cities.
  • Meetings with students or institutions you are collaborating with in those cities.

You cannot apply apply for activities that occur before the award is granted, nor for participation at conferences, colloquia, and workshops, or for wages or stipends. The award is for research-related travel only.

Assessment Criteria:

The intention of the award is for students to learn from international experience on how to address contemporary challenges in a way that is humanist, timeless, and honest. Your application will be evaluated based on the strength of its alignment with the award’s intentions and its potential to respond to contemporary challenges to liveability, sustainability, and resilience in Canadian cities.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

The adjudication and selection committee is composed of the Director of the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, at least one of the eligible academic program chairs (architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design), and a member or delegate of Joyce Drohan’s family. The committee may decide not to award the prize in a given competition if none of the applications meets the criteria. All committee decisions are final.

Required information and support material – What you need to submit

Please see the application form for specific details: [Qualtrics form / online submittal]

  • Your curriculum vitae and contact details.
  • A proposal (maximum 500 words) that outlines:
    • A rationale for the research — how is this research and travel important?
    • An outline of work — what activities do you propose to undertake as part of the research and travel?
    • Anticipated products from the research and travel — what deliverables would result from conducting the research?
    • Anticipated outcomes — how might the results of the research and travel inform others?
  • Proposed travel schedule
  • Proposed travel budget
  • Name of a SALA faculty member who can attest to your capacity to undertake the research and act as an advisor
  • Confirmation of support or participation if you are proposing external collaboration
  • Acknowledgement that you will return and present the results of your project at a March event in the school the following year. Your presentation will coincide with the announcement of the next award winner

Application preparation

  • You are responsible for providing all the information and support material requested
  • Submit only the material requested

Personal information

We will only use the personal information in your application for the purposes related directly to the award

Prize terms and conditions

  • You agree to have your photograph and public information used for promotion of the award.
  • You will acknowledge the support of Learning from Liveable Cities: The Joyce Drohan Travel Award in any promotional material or presentations based on the travel funded by the award.
  • You will make a presentation on the results of your research travel at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture the year following receipt of the award. In this way, you will spread your knowledge to the broader community. The exact format and timing of your presentation will be decided in consultation with the director of the school. The use of digital media, such as a website, video, or podcast, is encouraged.
  • This award is taxable and a T4A slip will be issued, at the appropriate time, for grants and awards paid to individuals. If you have tax-related questions, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency or your provincial or territorial revenue department.
  • The prize will not be awarded posthumously.

Instructions – How to submit an application

Deadline date: January 21, 2024

Submit your completed application form, required documents and any support material on or before the deadline date by 11:59 (Vancouver time).

Contact information
(604) 822-6404