OCAD University
Doreen Balabanoff
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Architecture, Environmental colour and light, Architectural glass, Birth Environment


Doreen Balabanoff is an artist, designer and educator/administrator whose personal work and research has increasingly focused on environmental colour and light as potent aspects of experiential architecture. In 2017 she completed a practice-based PhD at University College Dublin School of Architecture. Her dissertation, Light and Embodied Experience in the Reimagined Birth Environment, challenges the contemporary clinical and medicalized approach to birth and birth environment design, through a phenomenological framework that implicates the interconnectedness of mind/body and environment in birth processes and outcomes. The work on birth environment has led her to spearhead a global Birth Environment Design Network, aimed at transforming the birth environment on behalf of women worldwide. Through a feminist and phenomelogical lens, her work and teaching utilizes theories/approaches that include ecological psychology, transdisciplinarity, and research through/within practice. Since 2011, she has been the (founding) President of the Colour Research Society of Canada, the Canadian national member of the International Colour Association (AIC).    

Professor Balabanoff's larger arena of interest encompasses phenomenological architecture, colour research, architectural art, salutogenic design, inclusive design, design in concert with nature, urban ecologies/resilient habitats, and qualitative research methodologies that support the revealing of lived experience and diverse ways of knowing. Her teaching is grounded in an abiding interest in human experience (of colour and light as atmospheric and ephemeral aspects of architectural space/form/time; of our temporal, spatial and spiritual connection to nature and cosmos; of the cycles of nature embedded within a particular site... of physical, mental and spiritual health).

Along with her partner, ED Professor Stuart Reid, she has spearheaded the first Study Abroad projects in the Faculty of Design, including The Future of Inhabited Form, an interdisciplinary intensive studio course first conceived and implemented in London with renown architect Will Alsop (who designed the OCAD U Sharp Centre), and more recently taking place in Rome, Venice and Florence.

Professor Balabanoff has a deep interest in studio pedagogy, as a potent model of teaching/learning. She has served over 8.5 years as Facuty of Design Assistant Dean, First Year Design; Associate Dean, Academic and Faculty; and Acting Dean. She is currently on the Graduate Faculty for three Masters programs:  Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design; Inclusive Design; and Design for Health.


1974 BA (Art) Pitzer College, Claremont Colleges, California

1985 M Arch UCLA Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Planning

2017 PhD University College Dublin, School of Architecture

Professional Experience

Has worked as a designer in various architectural firms, and designed/consulted on various residential projects in Canada. Has practiced as an architectural glass artist and as a colour consultant/expert. Has produced commissioned architectural glass works in public and private settings in Canada. Has exhibited internationally, including as a member of the Womens International Glass Workshop.

Selected Exhibitions

2017 Hillside Terrace Gallery, Tokyo, Japan 'Light Matters'; 2015 La Grange au Verrières, St. Hilaire en Lignières, France 'Visible Light';
2013 ‘Visible Light’ Womens International Glass exhibition; 2011 'Private Collections' University of Iceland; 2009 'Gathering Light: women glass artists of the 21st century' Centre International du Vitrail, Chartres, France; 2009 'Arboreal' Durham Art Gallery; 2008 'Gathering Light' National Museum of Wales and Liverpool Cathedral; 2007 'Trees I Have Known' Material Matters Gallery, Toronto 2006 The Glass Gallery, Sydney, Australia 2004 Material Matters Gallery, Toronto 2001 Augsburg Cathedral Gallery, Augsburg, Germany 2001 Museum Moderner Kunst, Passau, Germany 2000 Hans-Reiffenstuel-Haus, Pfarrkirchen, Germany 2000: Foothills Art Center, Golden Colorado

Awards \ Grants

1995, 1993, 1992: Canada Council Awards 1994-88: Ontario Arts Council Awards


2002 St. Joseph's Health Centre, Guelph Ontario Chapel (windows, door, tabernacle); 2000 Alderwood Centre, Etobicoke, Ontario 'Lightscape' (glass/light projection piece); 1998 Freeport/Grand River Hospital, Kitchener, Ontario )'Eight Tone Poems'); 1992 City of London, Ontario 'People and the City' civic monument.

Selected Publications

Balabanoff, Doreen. –Colour and Light in the Reimagined Birth Environment."Paper presented at the Interim Meeting of the International Colour Association (AIC), Taipeh, Taiwan, 22-25 September, 2012. Balabanoff, Doreen. –Aspects Of Light: Colour, Light And Space/Form/Time." Paper presented at the Interim meeting of the International Colour Association (AIC), Zurich, Switzerland, June 7-10, 2011. 2009 Beeh-Lustenberger, Suzanne. –Gathering Light part 2."Neues Glas/New Glass 1/09:8-15. 2008 Beeh-Lustenberger, Suzanne. –Gathering Light part 1."Neues Glas/New Glass 4/08 (2008): 10-17. Beeh-Lustenberger, Suzanne. –Gathering Light part 2."Neues Glas/New Glass 1/09 (2009):8-15. Beeh-Lustenberger, Suzanne. –Gathering Light part 1."Neues Glas/New Glass 4/08 (2008): 10-17. 2005-06: Contemporary Stained Glass, A & C Black Publishers, London, UK 2002: This Side Up, Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; article by D. Balabanoff on Canadian glass 1998: Stained Glass Magazine, St. Louis, Six Voices review by L. Lichtman 1998: Kitchener Waterloo Record, Six Voices review by R.Reid

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

President, Colour Research Society of Canada

Scientific Committee Member/Peer Reviewer for several AIC conferences