Grad profile: Serving the needs of our communities

Spring Convocation: Gavin Schaefer, Faculty of Architecture and Planning

- May 21, 2014

Architecture grad Gavin Schaefer (Nick Pearce photo)
Architecture grad Gavin Schaefer (Nick Pearce photo)

Gavin Schaefer is not one of those people who knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life, but he’s always had an interest in helping people.

Graduating with a Master of Architecture degree from Dalhousie, Gavin now has hands-on experience in using his talents to help communities.

“We see ourselves as channellers of the community,” he says.

After finishing an undergraduate degree in his hometown of Vancouver, Gavin spent time volunteering in the downtown east side, working as a web designer and a DJ, and in a school showing how photography can be used as alternative education.

“The whole thing was to use creative tools to help the community,” he says. He soon realized he could use similar tools to make a difference in architecture.

New to the field, Gavin went around to any firms that would meet with him, asking which school he should attend.

“They all said Dal,” he says. He came to Halifax for a visit and, after a welcoming tour from the support staff, he made his decision. “They really care about students even before they come.”

Gavin has excelled in the School of Architecture. Over the past four years, he has been on the Dean’s List, served as president of the Dalhousie Architecture Students Association (DASA) and received the prestigious Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship. He was also awarded the Cohos Evamy Scholarship, which included a trip overseas to study transitions between neighboring communities in Europe.

“The school has pushed me in ways I never expected,” says Gavin.

His research focuses on, “how technology can make architecture more democratic, so to better serve the community.” For him, it’s about reading the city in order to figure out what should be put in place to best serve the needs of the community.

“Design is essentially a problem. By using advanced tools, you can see more sides of the problem.”

This article is part of a series on our newest graduates. These profiles are also published in the 2014 Spring Convocation Keepsake, which is distributed at Convocation ceremonies. For more on Convocation (including live webcasts), visit the Convocation website.


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