This week, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) hosted its inaugural Toronto Symposium, bringing together hundreds of professionals and urban thinkers from around the world to create new dialogues in 'Emerging Trends and City Building.' The diverse range of attendees and presenters included world-renowned urban theorists such as Richard Florida and Ellen Dunham Jones, as well as the City of Toronto's own Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

Urban Land Institute, Toronto Symposium 2015The promotional poster for the Toronto Symposium, image courtesy of ULI

The two-day event welcomed a diverse range of inter-disciplinary perspectives and experiences, investigating the future of the urban realm from a wide variety of lenses. Topics ranging from technology, urban planning, cultural change, and the evolving retail landscape were discussed, often converging on the symposium's broad theme of mixed-use intensification. 

Urban Land Institute, Toronto Symposium 2015Quadrangle's Les Klein (left) moderates a discussion investigating new challenges facing designers, image by Stefan Novakovic

Held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Symposium combined a series of marquee plenary sessions with more intimate break-out panel discussions (above), where members of the audience were able to actively participate in the discourse. The plenary sessions included Richard Florida's presentation about the future of urban economies and the creative class (below), as well as an analysis of suburban redevelopment by prominent urban scholar Ellen Dunham Jones.

Urban Land Institute, Toronto Symposium 2015Richard Florida speaks at the symposium, image by Edward Skira

A panel about disruptive technologies—moderated by Jennifer Keesmaat (below)—brought together technological innovators representing some of the world's most influential tech companies (including Google, Twitter, and Uber) to interrogate how disruptive technologies may change our social and physical urban landscapes and alter the role of planners.

Urban Land Institute, Toronto Symposium 2015Jennifer Keesmaat moderates a discussion about disruptive technologies, image by Edward Skira

As ULI's inaugural Toronto Symposium, the event marked Toronto's growing prominence as a centre of urban development, and an incubator of new paradigms. ULI members and non-members alike congregated to examine—and help shape—the future of the urban realm.  

We will return with coverage of the aforementioned plenary sessions, so keep an eye out for upcoming articles covering the event. More information about the Urban Land Institute and the Toronto Symposium is available on ULI Toronto's official website