Last night in the beautiful atrium of Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Torontonians' love for the best new large-project architecture in the city was on display at the seventh annual Pug Awards.
The awards allow the public to vote on their favourite new buildings completed in the previous year. All buildings in the City of Toronto over 50,000 square feet are nominated. Voting is split into two categories; Residential, and Commercial or Institutional. Along with the winners in those categories, this year a new prize was a awarded in each category for Torontonians' favourite building redevelopment which includes a heritage conservation component. This new award has been named after the late Paul Oberman, who died in a plane crash earlier this year. Oberman was a developer with a keen interest in the city's heritage, and was responsible for some of the city's most notable preservation projects including the Gooderham "Flat Iron" building at Front and Church, and the Summerhill LCBO in the former North Toronto railway station.
Founded in 2004 by interior designer Anna Simone of Ceconni Simone and real estate financier Gary Berman of Tricon Capital Group, the two were on hand to host the event and declare the winners.
In the residential category, this years' Honourable Mention was award to X the Condominium at Jarvis and Charles Streets. Developed by Great Gulf Homes, the 44-storey tower was designed by architectsAlliance. The building is an homage to Mies van der Rohe, a residential take on the Toronto Dominion Centre with Mondrian flashes of yellow, red and blue slotted panels interspersed across the face of the elegant black tower.
The winner of the Pug Award for residential buildings was mid-rise Seventy5 Portland in the city's rapidly redeveloping King and Bathurst area. Developed by Freed Developments, the building was designed by Core Architects. Noted for its projecting white-painted concrete boxes in two-storey sections, the building brought French superstar design Philippe Starck to town handle interior touches.
The winner of the Paul Oberman Award in the residential category was The Printing Factory Lofts on Carlaw Avenue in the east end. Developed by Beaverbrook Homes, architectural firms Chandler Graham and Montgomery Sisam converted the factory for living space, famously maintaining its sawtooth roof with skylights for the units found within.
In the commercial or institutional category, Honourable Mention brought two earlier winners back to the stage for 550 Wellington Condominiums and the Thompson Hotel. This mid-rise Freed Developments project, designed by architectsAlliance, is a block away from Seventy5 Portland.
The winner of the Pug Award for commercial or institutional buildings was the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Developed by Daniels for the Toronto International Film Festival Group, the building, quickly taken into the city's heart since opening last September, was designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects with Kirkor Architects and Planners as architect of record.
The winner of the Paul Oberman Award in the commercial or institutional category was the Bloor/Gladstone Branch of the Toronto Public Library. Co-developed by Morguard Investments for Build Toronto and TEDCO, architects were Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley in association with Shoalts and Zabak, with E.R.A. acting as heritage architect.
Along with the high profile awards, the Pugs also run Pug Ed, a program for Grade 8 students at two Toronto public schools which introduces the students to the importance of the good design. Three students who participated in the program were awarded $2600 each towards their post-secondary education to reward them for their ideas.
Gianpiero Pugliese, principal of AUDAXarchitecture, runs Pug Talks for the organization. Pug Talks bring together experts from all aspects of development to address issues related to building the city. A talk preceded the award ceremony last night featuring Shirley Blumberg of KPMB Architects, Alan Greenberg, president of MintoUrban Development Services, Gary Wright, chief planner at the City of Toronto, and Margaret Zeidler of the Urbanspace Property Group. Moderator Lisa Rochon, architecture critic for The Globe and Mail led the panelists through questions on the topic 'Tall Buildings'. With Zeidler as a passionate proponent for low and mid-rise development, and Greenberg as an advocate for tall, Wright emphasized that the city was a large enough and sophisticated enough market for both, while Blumberg stressed that good architecture and planning was crucial for both and that the city life is melded by the way its buildings meet its streets.