Tom Sutherland: Leaving a Legacy

Tom Sutherland: Leaving a Legacy

“The choices we make about the lives we live
determine the kinds of legacies we leave.”

– Tavis Smiley, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

DIALOG architect and Firm Managing Principal, Tom Sutherland, died in a tragic ski accident on April 2, 2015. He had been vacationing in Fernie, B.C., with his wife, Sandi, and their four children.

Tom was born July 17, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta. While studying architecture, he was awarded the gold medal for highest standing in an undergraduate faculty from both the Bachelor of Environmental Studies program at the University of Manitoba in 1982, and the Master of Architecture program at Harvard University in 1987. He practiced for ten years in Boston and Toronto before returning home where his reputation as a bright, young architect captured the attention of many, including DIALOG.

“In one week, several people mentioned Tom in different ways,” says Doug McConnell. “Here was a talented and passionate architect with an incredible understanding of business and a strong commitment to our community.”

Tom made a huge impact on our profession, our community and on DIALOG:

  • He led the creation of the Prairie Design Awards, and was leading the Alberta Association of Architects Practice Entity Task Force to restructure the way architecture and interior design are practiced in Alberta.
  • Tom committed his time and abilities to support many community organizations including his terms as Board Member and Chair of Capital City Savings (now Servus Credit Union) and of the Global Design Alliance (a North American based alliance of engineering and design firms).
  • ​Tom became DIALOG’s Firm Managing Principal in 2008. His leadership was at the centre of the development of the firm, culture and values that DIALOG is today.

“Tom combined exceptional design talent with an ability to lead and manage people—and did so while building great relationships with all those he worked with, setting the bar high and challenging us to do better” says McConnell.

As an architect, Tom’s influence can be seen around Edmonton and Alberta. His portfolio of work led with a strong but collaborative design hand includes healthcare facilities such as Royal Alexandra Hospital’s Robbins Pavilion, the Kaye Edmonton Clinic, the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital and the recently opened Edson Healthcare Centre. Some of his post-secondary educational buildings include Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s HP and Spartan and Petro-Canada Centres plus NorQuest College’s Singhmar Centre for Learning. Tom was very proud of the role he played in developing Edmonton’s Capital City Downtown Plan; he relished the opportunity to help Edmonton become a great city.

Through all of this, Tom was incredibly committed to his family – and so proud of Sandi and their children, Ellen, Christopher, Audrey, and Sarah.

Tom chose to commit his life to improving the communities we live in. He believed the future of design was interdisciplinary and championed DIALOG’s integrated structure and approach as a catalyst for it. Along the way, he impacted the lives of many. His legacy lives on through his family, the joy his designs bring to the community, and DIALOG’s culture and values.


Service Information

Reverend Martin Carroll will celebrate a funeral liturgy at St. Joseph’s Basilica, 10044 – 113 Street NW, Edmonton, on Friday, April 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Donation Information

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of two projects Tom was passionate about:

Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation
1502 College Plaza
8215-112 Street
Edmonton, AB  T6G 2C8

Lois Hole Hospital for Women
10240 Kingsway Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5H 3V9

Comments (1)

  1. John Starko

    Tom was such a charismatic and natural leader .His ability to connect with people would keep me in awe. He would walk out of a board room meeting packed with principles , clients and consultants , and then be able to jump into casual conversations about the latest TGIT or the morning bike commute , with his employees. Tom knew everyone on a first name basis, and It’s his personable nature that is something that we will miss the most.

    My condolences go out to his family, who I know he loved very much!

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