Yesterday evening, hundreds from among Toronto's community of architects, landscape architects, urban designers, artists, developers, contractors, and more, came together at the Palais Royale to celebrate the best of Toronto development from over the last two years. The 2017 Toronto Urban Design Awards presented 21 projects with Awards of Excellence of Awards of Merit, recognizing where great ideas and topnotch execution have improved the city's quality of place.

Split across nine categories, 124 submission were reviewed by a jury composed of David Anselmi, Director, Real Estate for Canada Lands Company CLC Limited; Elsa Lam, Editor, Canadian Architect; Gary McCluskie, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects; and Betsy Williamson, Principal, Williamson Williamson Inc.

Toronto Urban Design Awards 2017, Palais RoyaleJennifer Keesmaat address the crowd, image by Craig White

Following introductory speeches by Toronto's soon-to-be-former Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto's Urban Design Director Lorna Day, and Jury representative Betsy Williamson, the awards were handed out. The 2017 winners are:

Elements Category
Award of Excellence: Two Circles, 22 Adelaide St. W.

Project Team — Design Architects: KPMB Architects • Architect of Record: Adamson Associates Architects • Engineer: Entuitive • Artist: Micah Lexier • Art Consultant: Rina Greer • Design Assistant: Lisa Naftolin • Developer/Owner/Client: Brookfield Properties • Contractor: Mosaika Art & Design Inc. Fabricator 

Jury Comment

The power of this work of public art is in its ability to embody dualities. Two simple shapes—a black circle on a white backdrop, and the outline of a black circle on a white background— break through the visual clutter of the streetscape. The two identically sized circles are simultaneously heavy and buoyant, activating the public realm with their sublime presence.

As you approach, the work becomes tremendously complex, as the phenomenally high level of detail and precision with which the circles are made unveils itself. The work draws you in, inspiring a sense of amazement that shifts from the power of the simple forms, to the impressiveness of the repetition behind the mass customization of the mosaics. The jury enthusiastically supports not only the vision of the artist, but the entire team that made this work possible. 

Two Circles at the Bay Adelaide Centre East Tower, Toronto Urban Design AwardsTwo Circles at the Bay Adelaide Centre East Tower, image by Tom Arban, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Excellence: East Point Park Bird Sanctuary Pavilions, East Point Park

Project Team — Architects: PLANT Architect Inc. • Landscape Architects: PLANT Architect Inc. • Engineer: Blackwell • Developer/Owner/Client: City of Toronto Parks Foresty and Recreation • Contractors: Hawkins Contracting Services Ltd. General Contractor, Iron Bridge Fabrication Inc. Steel Fabricator 

Jury Comment

This project demonstrates an admirable level of restraint in its simple palette of materials and its very limited imprint on an otherwise wild, somewhat secluded landscape. The pavilions themselves—formed from folded, perforated Corten steel sheets—are simple, well- proportioned shelters. They include a viewing station and a blind, which fit comfortably on the edge of a pond that supports a diverse plant and bird habitat.

The design of the structures is simple, elegant, robust and precisely detailed. At the viewing station, the perforated patterns—including silhouettes of flocking birds and the species names of the vast number of birds present in the sanctuary—add an element of lightness and transparency.

All in all, this is a beautifully handled element within a landscape that all Torontonians should add to their must-see list. 

East Point Park Bird Sanctuary Pavilions, Toronto Urban Design AwardsEast Point Park Bird Sanctuary Pavilions, image by Steven Evans Photography, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Private Buildings in Context – Low Scale Category
Award of Excellence: Branksome Hall Athletics and Wellness Centre, 10 Elm Ave.

Project Team — Architects, Interior Design, Signage & Wayfinding: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects • Landscape Architects: PMA Landscape Architects Ltd. • Structural Engineers: Blackwell • Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers: Smith + Andersen • Civil Engineering: MGM Consulting Inc. • Planning Consultant: Sweeny &Co • Developer/Owner/Client: Branksome Hall • Contractor: Gillam Group Construction Manager 

Jury Comment

Although this building has a large square footage, its sensitive placement renders it relatively discreet and appropriately scaled to its urban context. A generous bus drop-off area creates a buffer alongside Mount Pleasant Road, where the building presents a predominantly brick façade—a tough face towards a tough arterial road. However, even here, transparency is added by a glowing revamped pedestrian bridge, transparent second-story fitness area, and full-height clerestories that bring daylight to the lower-level swimming and rowing pool.

The complex includes not only the aquatic hall, but also a competition-height volleyball gymnasium and dining hall that serves the student body, all adjoining a ravine site subject to conservation regulations. A sensitive deployment and stacking of these large volumes allows the building to accommodate the needed functions with only a minor variance to the existing zoning. The new building’s placement also frames a series of small courtyards with the existing structures on the site, giving a proto-urban feel to the west side of the Branksome campus. 

Branksome Hall Athletics and Wellness Centre, Toronto Urban Design AwardsBranksome Hall Athletics and Wellness Centre, image by Shai Gil, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: 619 Queen, 619 Queen St. W. 

Project Team — Architects: Quadrangle • Landscape Architects: Vertechs • Structural Engineer: Dorlan Engineering Consultants • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Integral Group • Shoring: Isherwood Geostructural Engineers • Specifications: DGS Consulting Services • Lighting: Smith and Andersen • Heritage: ERA Architects • Developer/Owner/Client: Hullmark Developments Ltd. • Contractor: First Gulf Developments 

Jury Comment

By recreating the façade of a heritage building destroyed by fire, this infill project presents a unique approach to Queen Street’s Heritage Conservation guidelines. Simply detailed, the sleek metal panels—with the image of the previous building composed through various- sized perforations—is clearly evocative of the site’s past, while being unapologetically contemporary.

The jury applauds not only the design acumen of the team, but also the amount of restraint required to create just the right amount of texture to contrast with the façade’s minimal details. It is important to recognize new forms of craftsmanship, such as the digital fabrication used for these panels. The synergy that is achieved in this case—by also referencing the craftsmanship of the past through imagery—elevates this work above its peers. 

619 Queen, Toronto Urban Design Awards619 Queen, image by Ben Rahm/A-Frame Studio, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: Urban Infill in the Village of Yorkville, 92a Scollard St. 

Project Team — Architects: Shim-Sutcliffe Architects Inc. • Structural Engineer: Blackwell Structural Engineers • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers • BK Consulting Inc. • Geotechnical Engineering: Haddad Geotechnical Inc. • Building Code: David Hine Engineering • Stair: EE Stairs America Inc. • Millwork: Custom Millwork Solutions Inc. • Custom Furniture: Two Degrees North Inc. • Windows & Doors: Torp Inc. • Heritage Consultant: ERA Architects Inc. • Developer/Owner/Client: Greg and Tony Sharp • Contractor: Duffy and Associates 

Jury Comment

This is a beautifully detailed project that shows the potential of infill to incrementally elevate the design quality of the city. Red brick window frames give the façade an unusual depth, while relating to the proportions of neighbouring structures. Just beyond these frames, an interior three-storey atrium brings light deep into the building.

A ground-floor retail space reinforces a pattern of street-related uses established throughout the neighbourhood. The care taken with detailing continues on the storefront, with bespoke handrails, shop entrance, and display windows adding to the contemporary, yet quietly conservative character of this design—a style that will endure well over time. The architectural craft of this building exemplifies how a small, low-scale private building can contribute to a broader streetscape and neighbourhood. 

Urban Infill in the Village of Yorkville, Toronto Urban Design AwardsUrban Infill in the Village of Yorkville, image by Scott Norsworthy, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Private Buildings in Context – Mid-Rise Category
Award of Excellence: 383 Sorauren, 383 Sorauren Ave. 

Project Team — Architects: architectsAlliance • Landscape Architects: NAK Design Strategies • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Able Engineering Inc. • Structure Engineer: Jablonsky, AST & Partners Inc. • Interior Design: Johnson Chou • Developer/Owner/Client: Gairloch Developments • Contractor: Bluescape Construction Management Inc. 

Jury Comment

383 Sorauren is a residential design that exemplifies a range of strong urban design characteristics. The massing of the 10-storey building continues and extends the scale of the existing loft buildings on Sorauren Avenue to the south, and participates in the transition of scales from the low-rise residential neighbourhood on the west side of the street to the mid-rise scale that continues to develop towards the east.

The two-storey townhomes that address the street ensure animation and activity at the street- edge. Critical to their success is the landscaping treatment that encloses the front-facing private courtyard areas and provides a semi-private space for residents that is very much in the public realm. As the landscape matures, there will be a better level of privacy for the users of these spaces. The diagonally slanted corners of the building give it a distinctive character. The open brick frame of the top storey represents a creative solution to maintaining the street edge, while simultaneously stepping back the mass of the building to reduce the presence of the upper-storey units. 

383 Sorauren, Toronto Urban Design Awards383 Sorauren, image by Ben Rahm/A-Frame Studio, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Excellence: The Broadview Hotel, 106 Broadview Ave. 

Project Team — Architects: ERA Architects Inc. • Structural Engineer: Atkins + Van Groll Inc. • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Novatrend Engineering • Interior Design: The Design Agency • Lighting Design: Marcel Dion Lighting Designer • Windows: Ridley • Developer/Owner/Client: Streetcar Developments • Contractor: Phoenix Restoration Heritage Contractor 

Jury Comment

The Broadview Hotel is an example of a strong corner building, addressing both Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue. This finely executed restoration and renovation is notable for the care that has been focused on a heritage asset. It is also noteworthy as a building that re-contextualizes an appropriate scale and mass for the continued development and renewal of the Queen Street East neighbourhood.

The integration of a new three-storey addition at the north end of the building introduces a contrasting architectural character with a careful massing, resulting in a balanced overall effect. The hotel program—hearkening back to the original use of the structure—will be a strong resource for the local community and will broaden the range of commercial and residential functions that are currently flourishing in the area. Of particular note is the dramatic nighttime lighting design, which celebrates the rich three-dimensional character of the masonry façades. 

The Broadview Hotel, Toronto Urban Design AwardsThe Broadview Hotel, image by Marcus Mitanis

Private Buildings in Context – Tall Category
Award of Excellence: Queen Richmond Centre West, 134 Peter St. 

Project Team — Architects: Sweeny & Co Architects Inc. • Landscape Architects: NAK Design Strategies • Electrical Engineer: Mulvey & Banani International Inc. • Mechanical Engineer: The Mitchell Partnership Inc. • Structural Engineer: Stephenson Engineering Ltd. • LEED Consultant: Ecovert • Steel Fabricator: Walters Group Inc. • Structural Steel-Cast Node: Cast Connex • Developer/Owner/Client: Allied Properties REIT • Contractor: Eastern Construction 

Jury Comment

Queen Richmond Centre West is noteworthy for the manner in which it maintains the form and identity of two existing loft buildings. A new atrium bends through the development, providing gracious public access to the interior, while extending and maintaining the legibility of the existing buildings on all four of their sides.

The dramatic angled columns that punctuate the atrium, while remarkable as sculptural objects, gain integrity through the added purpose of supporting the new construction that seemingly floats above the existing buildings. The material contrast between the glass façades that enclose the new construction and the masonry of the existing buildings establishes a clear identity for the upper volume. Finally, the spatial separation between the new and old structures establishes separate identities for the components, while adding complexity and character to the visual ensemble. 

Queen Richmond Centre West, Toronto Urban Design AwardsQueen Richmond Centre West, image by double space photography, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: River City – Phase 2, 51 Trolley Cr. 

Project Team — Architects in Joint Venture Architects: Saucier+Perrotte Architectes / ZAS • Landscape Architects: The Planning Partnership • Structural Engineer: Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd. • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Smith + Andersen • Sustainability: WSP / MMM Group Ltd. • Developer/Owner/Client: Urban Capital • Contractor: Bluescape Construction Management Inc. 

Jury Comment

River City Phase 2 participates in the urban design fabric of the city at three distinct scales. At the macro scale, the striking condominium building acts as a gateway to a new residential precinct on the west side of the lower Don Valley. The white boxes that cantilever out from the east face of the structure are legible from a distance, reading as well-composed foreground elements against the plane of the façade.

At the intermediate scale of the neighbourhood, the building marries well with the form and character of the district. The distinct white colour of Phase 2 contrasts with the black of River City’s Phase 1 building, while the consistency of the design ensures a unity and coherency for the entire development. It is anticipated that this effect will be reinforced by the completion of the 3rd and 4th phases of the project.

The project’s strong urban design features can also be seen at the pedestrian scale, where the building interfaces with the sidewalk. Features such as the black-mirrored porches that screen the private space on the façade at the street edge, and the cast-in-place concrete base of the building create a tactile environment that interacts well with the character of the sidewalk and pedestrian-friendly street. 

River City—Phase 2, Toronto Urban Design AwardsRiver City—Phase 2, image by Jose Uribe/doublespace photography, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Public Buildings in Context Category
Award of Excellence: Toronto Public Library, Scarborough Civic Centre Branch and Civic Green, 156 Borough Dr.

Project Team — Architects: LGA Architectural Partners/Phillip H. Carter Architects in Joint Venture • Landscape Architects: STLA a division of FORREC • Structural Engineer: Blackwell Structural Engineers • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Enso Systems Inc. • Civil Engineer (branch): Fabian Papa & Partners Inc. • Civil Engineer (green): Urban Watershed Group • Heritage Consultant: Phillip H. Carter • Developer/Owner/Client: Toronto Public Library City of Toronto • Contractor: Aquicon Construction 

Jury Comment

This low-slung library activates an important edge of the superblock that houses the monumental Scarborough Civic Centre. It relates to the Civic Centre through the gentle curvature of its form, deferring to the larger structure while echoing its curved volumes. Both buildings share a muscular quality, interpreted in the contemporary materials of their time—concrete in the case of the Civic Centre, and canted, large-scale glulam columns and beams in the case of the library.

The library faces a wooded area and is sited to preserve a mature stand of trees; its wood columns are visible from all sides through extensive glazing and visually continue the rhythm of the tree trunks. A significant investment in the library’s green roof was apparent to the jury, producing a verdant “fifth elevation” that can be seen from the approach to the Civic Centre along the north edge of the library, as well as from surrounding tower apartment blocks. The jury admired the clean-lined, formally landscaped park that fronts the building, providing a generous, green approach to both the library and the Civic Centre. 

Scarborough Civic Centre Public Library and Civic Green, Toronto Urban DesignScarborough Civic Centre Public Library and Civic Green, image by Stephane Groleau, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Excellence: Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, 341 Yonge St.

Project Team — Executive Architects: Zeidler Partnership Architects • Design Architect / Design Landscape Architect: Snøhetta • Landscape Architect: Ferris + Associates Inc. Executive • Structural Engineer: Yolles, a CH2M Hill Company • Mechanical, Electrical and Telecom Engineer: Crossey Engineering Ltd. • Acoustical Engineer: Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. • Civil Engineers: R.V. Anderson Associates Ltd. • Geotechnical Engineer: exp. Services Inc. • LEED Consultant: CEL Gruen Sustainability Group • Planner: Bousfields Inc. • Lighting Design: Consullux Lighting Consultants • Developer/Owner/Client: Ryerson University • Contractor: EllisDon Corporation 

Jury Comment

This contemporary, signature building creates a strong urban gateway to Ryerson University, marking the campus’ presence in the heart of downtown Toronto. Its south-facing plaza holds the corner, yet is also inviting: a geometric-tiled canopy provides a sheltering ceiling in “Ryerson blue,” while broad, sunny steps are well-used by students and passers-by. The invitation up and into the building is continued throughout the project. By programming the building as public, and not as a building exclusive to the Ryerson community, the school has made a powerful statement about its location on Yonge Street and how it can contribute to the public realm.

The jury noted that the geometric patterns on the façade give the building a seemingly opaque skin from the outside, while maintaining an open feel from inside. To the west, the building continues the retail storefronts of Yonge Street. Overall, the building has a youthful, engaging feel that is appropriate to Ryerson University and to its downtown context on Yonge Street. 

Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, Toronto Urban Design AwardsRyerson University Student Learning Centre, image courtesy of Snøhetta

Small Open Spaces Category
Award of Excellence: Joel Weeks Park, 10 Thompson St. 

Project Team — Landscape Architects: Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Inc. • Civil, Mechanical, Electrical Engineer: exp. Services Inc. • Structural Engineer: Halsall Associates • Artists: Mary Ann Barkhouse & Michael Belmore • Community Facilitation: Office for Urbanism • Garden Planting: GreenFuse Design Consulting-Community • Public Art Fabricator: Eventscape • Irrigation Consultant: Creative Irrigation Solutions Inc. • Arborist: Central Tree Care • Developer/Owner/Client: City of Toronto: Parks Forestry & Recreation Department with Toronto Community Housing Corporation • Contractor: Pine Valley Enterprises Inc. 

Jury Comment

While the jury was initially drawn to the imagery of the Don River as interpreted in the park’s water feature, it is the complex layering of strong forms that delivers the brilliance of this community space.

The park has been well-organized into sections with distinct uses. Spaces for play, gathering, sport and sanctuary are layered and defined by beautifully detailed planters and strong plant species selection. A simple and well-proportioned grassy berm allows the active zone at the north end of the park to be both visually and acoustically separated from the quiet, shaded spaces at its south end. This formal move makes the dense urban park feel gracious and welcoming to the vibrant residential community that rings the block. It is too simple to call this park an asset to the community. It is an essay in the profound humanity that well-designed landscaped spaces bring to urban living. 

Joel Weeks Park, Toronto Urban Design AwardsJoel Weeks Park, image by Jackie Beale, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: Ïce Condominiums at York Centre, 12-14 York St.

Project Team — Architect: architectsAlliance • Landscape Architect: NAK Design Strategies • Structural Engineer: Jablonsky, AST & Partners Inc. • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: The HIDI Group • Artists : Vong Phaophanit + Claire Oboussier, David Trautimas • Interior Design: Munge Leung • Art Consultants: Public Art Management • Developer/Owner/Client: Lanterra Developments / Cadillac Fairview • Contractor: Lanterra Developments 

Jury Comment

The courtyard and public art at this new condominium project in Toronto’s South Core stood out to the jury as noteworthy aspects of the development. The courtyard is a well-designed public space with a refined palette of materials, and is finely detailed and consistent throughout. The water feature, paving, custom seating and birch grove provide a beautiful backdrop for exquisite public art that successfully holds the space. The ground level of the condominium itself—both in its open glazed sections and the opaque utility sections—is designed and properly scaled to complement the courtyard.

Currently, the courtyard seems to be used infrequently and is somewhat difficult to access, as it is tucked in the intersection of two side streets. However, it is part of an emerging public realm in this part of downtown, and will become an important open space as the development of South Core continues, and as the thousands of people that will be living and working in the area discover it. 

Ïce Condominiums at York Centre, Toronto Urban Design AwardsÏce Condominiums at York Centre, image by Tom Arban, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Large Places and/or Neighbourhood Designs Category
Award of Excellence: West Don Lands Public Realm – Mill Street, Front Street, Eastern Avenue, Cherry Street, Cooperage Street, Rolling Mills Road, Tannery Road, Palace Street, Trolley Crescent, Underpass Park 

Project Team — Landscape Architects: The Planning Partnership with PFS Studio • Infrastructure Engineer: Cole Engineering, SCS Consulting, R.V. Anderson Associates Ltd., MMM Group • Lighting: Hammerschlag & Joffe • Geotechnical: Golder • Structural: Quinn Dressel • Artists: Jill Anholt Studio, Paul Raff Studio, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins with James Khamsi, Tadashi Kawamata, Mark di Suvero, Scott Eunson and Marianne Lovink, Hadley + Maxwell • Urban Design: Sweeny &Co • Heritage Consultant: ERA Architects • Irrigation: Smart Watering Systems • Developer/Owner/Client: Waterfront Toronto, City of Toronto, Infrastructure Ontario, Dundee Kilmer Developments • Contractor: EllisDon Corporation / Ledcor, UCC Group Inc., CRCE Construction Ltd., Aldershot Landscape, Eastern Construction 

Jury Comment

This project is an ambitious and unequivocally public undertaking that sets out to frame and connect an equally ambitious neighbourhood development that will evolve over several years. The scope of the project—including streetscape design, pedestrian-first woonerfs, parks and public art—is handled cohesively on a neighbourhood scale.

Four stated drivers guided the design team: sustainability, innovation, landscape and public art. The designers were tasked with delivering the public realm first, ahead of the residential and mixed-use development blocks. This strategy—along with the strong urban design that has been evidenced—results in a public realm that will be the connective tissue that holds the neighbourhood together as it densifies, and gives it an inherent sense of place.

The generous and well-detailed sidewalks, playful public art, intermittent landscape and play elements within the linear park, and strong linear tree plantings give a legibility and clear identity to the neighbourhood.

West Don Lands Public Realm, Toronto Urban Design AwardsWest Don Lands Public Realm, image by Brett Hoornaert, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Excellence: Queens Quay Boulevard, Central Waterfront, Queens Quay West between Yonge Street and Yo-Yo Ma Lane

Project Team

Landscape Architects: West 8 + DTAH in Joint Venture • Civil, Municipal, Transportation and Design Engineers: ARUP • Site Engineer: WSP/MMM Group • Electrical, Streetlighting and Signalization: TSL Consulting + Design Group Ltd. • Structural: WSP Global (Parsons Brinckerhoff Halsall Inc.) • Urban Forestry: James Urban and Associates • Quantity Surveying: A.W. Hooker Associates Ltd. • Traffic Management: BA Group • Systems Irrigation: Smart Watering • Utility Coordination: DPM Energy Inc. • Environmental and Geotechnical: LVM Franz and Golder Associates • Developer/Owner/Client: City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto • Contractor: Eastern Construction Company Ltd. 

Jury Comment

The redesign of Queens Quay Boulevard clarifies the multiple modes of transportation that occupy the boulevard. Through a process of condensing and compressing the space used by car traffic, additional space is created for adjacent public and commercial functions, including a streetcar corridor, cycle lanes, and enlarged sidewalks.

The distinct material palette associated with each mode of movement ensures the clear identity of each zone, and allows for the flattening of the pedestrian plane (via curbless edges) between the adjacent layers of movement. The design’s sensitive but robust details draw on a graphic iconography celebrating Canadian and nautical themes, resulting in an unusually coherent, multi-layered urban realm. These are just a few aspects of this design that set a new precedent for North American urban design 

Queens Quay Boulevard, Toronto Urban Design AwardsQueens Quay Boulevard, Central Waterfront, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Award of Merit: Front Street Revitalization, Front Street West between York and Bay Streets

Project Team — Landscape Architects: AECOM • Engineer: AECOM • Subsurface Investigations: T2 Utility Engineers • Photometrics: HH Angus & Associates Streetlighting • Material Selection Input: DTAH • Environmental Assessment: Planning Partnership & LEA Consulting Ltd. • Developer/Owner/Client: City of Toronto, Transportation Services / City Planning • Contractor: EllisDon Corporation 

Jury Comment

The central section of Front Street, including the public realm associated with Union Station and the Royal York Hotel, has been skillfully redesigned to embrace its role as one of the city’s most important precincts. With a restrained palette of high-quality materials and a clear intention to balance pedestrian movement with that of vehicles (without one dominating the other), this urban streetscape now works seamlessly from building face to building face.

Broad sidewalk areas, flush curbs, parking lay-bys, designated crossings, pedestrian-scale lighting and street tree plantings are all perfectly integrated.

The project also demonstrates an ambition to improve upon conventional road cross-sections and traffic planning. This effort has been carried through with resolve, resulting in a vastly improved and memorable public realm for the many thousands of visitors that see Toronto for the first time as they step out of Union Station. 

Front Street Revitalization, Toronto Urban Design AwardsFront Street Revitalization, image by Robb Williamson/AECOM, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, 14 St. Matthews Rd. 

Project Team — Planning, Design and Compliance Architects: Stantec Architecture, KPMB Architects • Design, Build, Finance and Maintain Architects: HDR Inc., Diamond Schmitt Architects • PFS Studio Landscape Architects • Mechanical Engineer: The Mitchell Partnership Inc. • Vibration, Noise, Acoustic Engineer: Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. • Urban Planning: Urban Strategies Inc. • Site Servicing • R.V. Anderson Associates Ltd. • Traffic: BA Consulting Group • Environmental: Golder Associates • Archeological: Archeological Services • Arborist: Bruce Tree Expert Tree Co. Ltd. • Heritage Consultant: ERA Architects Inc. • Developer/Owner/Client: Bridgepoint Health, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Infrastructure Ontario • Contractor: PCL Constructors Inc. 

Jury Comment

The design of the public realm surrounding the newly constructed Bridgepoint Active Healthcare is a positive addition to the neighbourhood that clearly and sensibly guides future development for the site. The site is organized as a nine-square grid, with the historic Don Jail at it’s centre. The jail has been restored and adaptively reused as a hospital administration/research centre, with an interior community space accessible through both front and back doors. The main hospital sits to the northwest of the site, occupying two squares of the grid adjacent the Don Valley.

A formal park fronts the jail building, while the main entrance to the hospital enjoys a forecourt that maintains a single grade by blending pedestrian and vehicular traffic areas—an appropriate strategy that makes the outdoors more accessible to rehabilitating patients. To the north, a series of terraces step down to connect the hospital with Riverdale Park.

The design also delineates three parcels that will serve for future development, in anticipation of later institutional growth. In the interim, these parcels are left as open green spaces: they are accessible for community use, and are continuous with the precinct’s permanently landscaped parcels. 

Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Toronto Urban Design AwardsBridgepoint Active Healthcare, image by Geoff Grenville, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration, Bloor Street & Kipling Avenue

Project Team — Architects: SvN • Landscape Architects: SvN • Corporation Engineer: HDR • Electrical and Illumination: Moon Matz Ltd. • Environmental: LGL Ltd. • Subsurface Utilities: Multiview • Heritage Consultant: Archeoworks • Developer/Owner/Client: City of Toronto 

Jury Comment

This important project aims at providing an exemplary pedestrian environment in an area that previously was entirely vehicle-oriented. While the real test of the project’s success will be in the detailed design and execution to come, the plan is to be commended for its commitment to a full-scale reconfiguration of a complicated web of streets that currently pass over and under each other, rather than intersecting.

By rethinking how this network of streets can work at grade, the designers have set the stage for the emergence of a public realm that includes pedestrian-friendly ambitions, great street continuity, opportunities for stronger street tree planting, and increased adjacent development blocks and parkland. It should be seen as a precedent-setting plan that reclaims city streets from being treated as highways and reimagines them as functional and engaging public realm amenities. 

Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration, Toronto Urban Design AwardsSix Points Interchange Reconfiguration, image courtesy of SvN Architects

Visions and Master Plans Category
Award of Merit: Regent Park Living Lane, Regent Park Blocks 16 & 17 

Project Team — Architect: Brook McIlroy • Landscape Architect: Brook McIlroy • Engineer: BA Group • Developer/Owner/Client: Toronto Community Housing Corporation, The Daniels Corporation 

Jury Comment

This pilot project envisages creating a laneway that’s more than a second-tier servicing corridor, and instead encourages pedestrian use, bicycle activity, and social functions. The plan includes streetscape design, with elements such as catenary lights, tree clusters, permeable paving, seating areas, and bespoke “bike forest” racks.

Importantly, the design also extends to the adjacent buildings: aligning service and parking entrances, including bike repair shops and storage rooms flanking the lane, and planning for live/work units and offices to look down onto it. The intention is to provide animation through active use, as well as a measure of safety by deploying the principle of Jane Jacobs’ “eyes on the street.”

If successful when built, this prototype could be replicated in part or in whole for both existing and new developments. It has the potential to become a valuable precedent in the ongoing discussion of how to best use the city’s vast network of service lanes. 

Regent Park Living Lane, Toronto Urban Design AwardsRegent Park Living Lane, image courtesy of Brook McIllroy

Student Projects Category
Award of Excellence: Flex, 794 Dundas St. W. 

Project Team — Yupin Li 

Jury Comment

It is commendable when a design student tackles a tough building typology, and exceptional when the author discovers real invention within that typology. The developer-driven world of mid-rise residential housing requires just such invention and new thinking.

This project promotes flexibility by creating multi-functional units that combine the rental and private ownership markets. Flexible spaces can be divided off as rental apartments, then absorbed back into the units as families grow, providing a high-density solution that many families require. The development of permeable and landscaped back-of-house laneway spaces is a nod to a new attitude towards the notion of livable laneways that can support increased density. All these ideas are combined in a rigorously investigated and beautifully designed project. 

Flex, Toronto Urban Design AwardsFlex, image by Yupin Li, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Award of Merit: Greening St. James Town, St. James Town

Project Team — Thevishka Kanishkan, Camila Campos Herrera 

Jury Comment

This dramatic landscape proposal takes the new typology of the curbless woonerf as the structure of an expanded public realm in St. James Park, and merges it with an organic landscape form informed by Toronto’s ravines. The bold proposal not only adds to the amount of landscaped area in the park, but brings urbanity into the ravine by physically connecting the expanded park and the ravine system. Further investigations into how the new landscaped areas can work with the existing structures—and what it means to bring the ravine into the urban world—are this project’s next steps. 

Greening St. James Town, Toronto Urban Design AwardsGreening St. James Town, image courtesy of Thevishka Kanishkan and Camila Campos Herrera

Special Jury Award, Urban Activation Category

The Hearn: Luminato Festival 2016, 440 Unwin Ave.

Project Team — Architects: PARTISANS • Structural Engineer: Blackwell Structural Engineers • Production Team: Luminato Festival • Theatre Consultant: Charcoal Blue • Buildlng Code: LRI Engineering Inc. • Developer/Owner/Client: Luminato Festival • Contractor: Luminato 

Jury Comment

During the 2015 Luminato Festival, the decommissioned Hearn power station was used as a venue for a set of late-night concerts. In 2016, it became the central venue for the performing arts festival, with events including seated performances, parties, and a variety of artistic installations. To accommodate this expanded use, the massive industrial building was equipped with a series of interventions, such as a restaurant, a theatre, and the world’s largest disco ball. Circulation through the site was masterplanned to accommodate pedestrian, cycling and transit routes.

The jury commends the organizers and designers for choosing The Hearn as the venue for this arts festival, and thereby making it widely accessible to Torontonians. The decision to hold Luminato at The Hearn brought the building into the conversation about the eventual adaptive reuse of the structure, as well as advancing the broader discussion of future development in the Port Lands. This vast area on the edge of Toronto is set to be a major site for downtown expansion, and its long-term plan currently envisages the continued existence of The Hearn as a central landmark. 

 Luminato Festival 2016, Toronto Urban Design AwardsThe Hearn: Luminato Festival 2016, image by Andrew Williams, courtesy of the City of Toronto

The awards are greeted with sustained applause in many cases, recognizing a couple of quite good years for examples of exceptional new developments in Toronto. Following the presentation, attendees enjoyed food and drinks on the Palais Royale's patio overlooking Humber Bay.

Toronto Urban Design Awards 2017, Palais RoyaleEnjoying the evening after the presentations, image by Craig White

Everyone will be able to get more into the 2017 winners via an exhibition which will travel around Toronto's civic centres over the coming month.

September 20 to 22 — Toronto City Hall
September 25 to 29 — Scarborough Civic Centre
October 2 to 6 — North York Civic Centre
October 10 to 13 — Etobicoke Civic Centre

What do you think about this year's set of winners? you can leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.