DPAI is proud to announce the promotion of two new Associates, Pablo Navarro and Sofia Stanidis!

Pablo Navarro 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 joined the DPAI architectural team in 2014 and has managed 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 over 20 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in building codes and accessibility standards as well as extensive experience working with municipal authorities throughout all phases of approvals.

Sofia Stanidis is a marketing and business development professional with over 13 years’ experience managing strategic marketing campaigns and branding initiatives. As a born and raised Hamiltonian, Sofia graduated from McMaster University with an Hns. BA in English and Fine Art. She started her career in conservation, leading the events and business development efforts for the organization. Sofia later 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 where she has led the marketing and proposal development for the past year. Sofia currently holds a Board of Directors position with the Hamilton Conservation Foundation and is a Communications Advisor to the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative.

Pablo and Sofia equally embody DPAI’s values to their core and have contributed to our team’s success a meaningful way. These new appointments truly strengthen the management structure of our firm and celebrate the unique strengths of our growing multidisciplinary team.

We’re excited for the future of DPAI and the contribution that Pablo and Sofia will undoubtedly make in their new roles.

Congratulations, Pablo and Sofia!


By Petra Matar

Architecture and design serve as valuable facets within the language of creating “safe spaces”. While safe space extends beyond the physical realm, the design of our physical spaces can play a huge role in how comfortable and included we, as individuals, feel while experiencing the world. Think of the design of a round table for example, which eliminates hierarchy and promotes democracy. Likewise, the use of ramps creates ease of movement for individuals using mobility aids. Contrasting surfaces are used for individuals with visual impairments, and child-sized furniture is used in spaces intended for the youngest members of our society. The list goes on.   

A space that has long been at the center of transgender inclusivity debates has been the public washroom. Arguably, one of the main reasons this space has been so hotly debated is due to the methods by which washrooms have been designed. Modern public washrooms are designed using stalls, which offer minimal privacy between users. The grouping of stalls is then closed off from view from public corridors. This divide of washrooms by gender is perceived to ensure the safety and privacy of individuals from gender-based harassment and assault – an argument used by the loudest opponents to trans individuals who wish to use the washroom that aligns with their gender identity.   

Ensuring all-gender washrooms are designed in new builds and retrofits is the solution to this long-standing debate. All-gender washrooms are designed with higher levels of privacy and are therefore more comfortable for users. Sometimes these washrooms are designed as individual rooms with both a toilet and a sink, or as toilet rooms with shared sink space in an adjacent common area. This rationale may easily extend to shower rooms and changing rooms as well, by designing those as self-contained private rooms, rather than stalls. Increased transparency to the public concourse decreases the likelihood of harassment and physical assault of trans individuals, eliminating the time factor spent by trans folks while concealed from public view, waiting for a stall within the confines of the enclosed public washroom. The thoughtful addition of amenities in stalls such as sanitary napkin disposal units, free sanitary products, trash bins and mirrors with a vanity and sink, can all contribute to increased levels of safety for the trans individual – especially for someone in transition. The additions also contribute to an enhanced and safer experience for a broader range of users and a larger population of women (including trans women), as well as providing more sanitary conditions for all users. 

The Stalled! prototypes for inclusive public bathrooms include a design that divides the functions of grooming, washing and eliminating.

Washrooms separated by gender perpetuate the systemic exclusion of non-binary individuals, and all new buildings and retrofits should be designed to adapt and aim to be more inclusive. This should be a standard by all municipal buildings, and private institutions should follow suit.    

Furthermore, providing all-gender washrooms should extend to specialized building types that  have historically been designed for male-dominant professions. These professions are now experiencing increasing numbers of women joining their forces and utilizing their spaces (e.g. fire stations). As women have entered the force, the buildings have introduced separate sets of washrooms and changerooms for female users at lower capacities.  

Adding low-capacity washrooms and/or changerooms to facilities to accommodate female users runs the risk of either insufficiently meeting the needs of staff, or of adding unused surplus space, which can sit vacant depending on the demographics of the facility. All-gender washrooms and changerooms provide flexibility and higher efficiency in making use of such spaces.   

Example of all-gender washrooms, shower rooms, locker room, and change rooms floor plan.

All-gender washrooms do not simply benefit trans and gender nonconforming individuals, they also offer higher levels of privacy to all users and offer flexible and efficient use of the facilities in question, regardless of changing demographics and use cases. Ensuring that our spaces are designed to serve the needs of people, including all members of society, should be the aim of effective architecture and design.  

Transgender Awareness Week is observed every year from November 13-19. The week is concluded by the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20—a day to acknowledge victims of transphobic violence. DPAI’s mission is to Shape the World, which means that we are continually reflecting on the way that architecture and design impacts individuals, communities, and the environment.  

For more information on Transgender Day of Remembrance and Trans Awareness Week, CLICK HERE. You can also CLICK HERE for Tips for Allies of Transgender People.

Petra Matar Promoted to Partner

We are excited to announce the promotion of Petra Matar to Partner!

Petra joined DPAI in 2011, shortly after graduating from the American University of Sharjah in the UAE. Over the past 10 years, Petra has proved to be a natural leader and has made an invaluable contribution to the growth and transformation of the firm.

Petra believes that good design should manifest in all aspects of a project; from its management to the end product being 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 has become DPAI’s sustainability specialist as she applies this knowledge into each project that she works on including institutional, commercial, residential, and urban design projects.

Petra is also a visual and installation artist who values creativity and seeks beauty in everything she makes. Over the past 8 years she has been part of the art collective HAVN in Hamilton, and her work has been featured at Supercrawl and in several group and solo exhibitions in Hamilton, Dubai and Sharjah.

The past year has been a transitional time for most businesses and Petra continues to be an instrumental component of DPAI’s continued growth and success. We’re excited for the future of DPAI and the contribution that Petra will undoubtedly make in this new position.

Congratulations, Petra!