2011 saw lots of what UrbanToronto likes best: many new buildings which opened, got underway, or were announced. While much of the rest of the world seems bogged down by a second dip into recession, Toronto appears to be rolling along as if nothing has happened. While we are not entirely isolated from the global economic situation, our resilient real estate market just may be inspiring the confidence required to keep it self-perpetuating through much of the uncertainty elsewhere. It's certainly giving those of us who love to watch the city grow lots to watch, and to critique!

We want every new building to add to the vibrancy and beauty of our amazing city, but there is certainly some disagreement on UrbanToronto as to which ones best do that. Our simple polls do show some clear favourites however, so let's take a look at the results.

We first asked you to vote on your favourite condominium out of 30 which completed last year. Three more were written into the Other entry, and they received one vote each: the Remington Group's Rouge Bijou in Markham, Streetcar's Two Gladstone at Dufferin and Queen, and Alterra's Network Lofts at Bloor and Islington.

Absolute World, image by Jasonzed, 2011.12.08qAbsolute World, image by Jasonzed, 2011.12.08

The clear winner of that poll with over 32% of the vote is Cityzen and Fernbrook's Absolute World in Mississauga, aka Marilyn, a project which was also voted world's second sexiest building by the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com. The curves of this Yansong Ma/MAD Architects/Burka Architects-designed project mean that we have trouble taking our eyes off it in fact, and our thread for the project still gets new photos all the time. Final touches are still taking place too - and the last tower and podium won't be finished until later in 2012 - so we suspect that the attention will not subside any time soon.

Residences of the Ritz-Carlton, image by Yonderbean, 2011.08.11Residences of the Ritz-Carlton, image by Yonderbean, 2011.08.11

In with a strong second place showing is Graywood and Cadillac Fairview's Residences at the Ritz Carlton with over 20% of the vote. The canted south wall and razor-like tip of the Kohn Pedesen Fox-designed building have made it a standout on the Toronto skyline, while its glowing-by-evening cantilivered podium and prominent location made it a focal point of attention during the Toronto International Film Festival this year. 

Lumiere condos with a Bay Street background, TorontoLumiere with a Bay Street background, image by vegeta_skyline 2011.10.23

The bronze medal in this categorey goes to Menkes' and Lifetime's handsome Lumiere Condos, designed by Wallman Architects, leading a small pack of towers in the 5% range of vote-getting. 

Our next category was Favourite New Post-Secondary Education Building or Expansion. Less well-known that the city's skyscraping new condos, the category attracted a fair bit of attention nevertheless, with the top two buildings both designed by one of the city's renowned firms, Diamond + Schmitt Architects. They were responsible for both the winner, the warm new entry additions and interior renovations at the University of Toronto's Robarts Library, and the second place finisher, the Centennial College Library and Academic Facility at their Progress Campus in Scarborough.

Robarts Library interior, image by Craig White 2011.05.27Robarts Library interior, image by Craig White 2011.05.27

While the work at Robarts helps to humanize one of the city's most controversial Brutalist landmarks, the Centennial College project started with what many would consider a blank-slate; a new building added to a small campus of buildings nestled by a big parking lot and the 401.

Centennial College Library and Academic Facility Atrium, ScarboroughCentennial College Library and Academic Facility Atrium, image by Craig White 2011.08.26

Rich wood tones take the edge off some of the concrete at Robarts while a rust coloured brick exterior and a giant atirum-filling living wall embrace both faculty and studests at Centennial.

Sheridan College Hazel McCallion Campus, MississaugaSheridan College Hazel McCallion Campus, image by Jasonzed 2011.12.07

The third place finisher in this category is Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley Architects' dynamic McCallion Campus building of Sheridan College at Mississauga City Centre. A playful splayed-pole supported southern entrance tips its hat toward Will Alsop's Sharp Pavillion at OCAD in Downtown Toronto, while the staggered, vertically oriented glazing elements on the east façade invite the thousands who visit Square One shopping centre across the street to be curious about the goings-on within.

Other projects in this category bear mentioning.

Testing the LED skin at the Ryerson Image Centre, TorontoTesting the LED skin at the Ryerson Image Centre, image by Drum118

The most votes we got in the Other entry were for Ryerson's Image Arts building, now renamed the Ryerson Image Centre. Yes, it's open for classes, but the glowing building, designed by Diamond + Schmitt Architects, has not been given its big coming out party yet. The official opening comes once the gallery portion is ready later in 2012. We'll be back to consider this one next year.

Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Centre at UTMTerrence Donnelly Health Sciences Centre at the University of Toronto Mississauga, image by Craig White 2011.07.04

We did not include the new Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex at University of Toronto Mississauga. We, uh, forgot. This brilliant building by Kongats Architecture has not been featured yet on UrbanToronto, but our Projects and Construction thread for it features many gorgeous photos.

Many terrific new post-secondary education buildings opened across the GTA last year, and we have not really done justice to them with our simple poll, or our incomplete coverage.

Many more images can be seen for all of these projects on UrbanToronto: the renderings can be most easily found in our dataBase listings, while photos galore await in the Projects and Construction Forum threads. You will find links below to all of them! Tomorrow - more of our results!