The 2012 Pug Awards were handed out on June 13 in an auditorium at the tiff/Bell Lightbox, last year's winning Commercial/Institutional location. The awards, which measure the public reception of Toronto buildings completed in the last year, are divided into two categories: Residential and Commercial / Institutional. A third award, the Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Restoration, is given to the project with the greatest number of votes and which features a significant heritage component.
The ceremony was preceeded by a panel discussion which put the question "Design in Toronto: Are We Succeeding?" to three prominent personalities in the city's design and development community. Moderated by Gary Berman, President of Tricon Capital Group, and Anna Simone of interior design firm Cecconi Simone, the panel consisted of John Bentley Mays, architecture columnist for the Globe and Mail, Christopher Hume, urban issues and architecture columnist for The Toronto Star, and Kyle Raye, former city councillor and current partner at PQR Solutions. The three were given the opportunity to discuss the successess and shortcomings of both the Pug Awards specifically and development in Toronto generally. While all three (Mays in particular) felt that while the Pugs – which began as the 'Fuglies' before becoming the 'Puglies' and now simply the 'Pugs' – were succeeding in their mission to elevate Toronto's standard of design, they felt that the Awards had lost some of the venom which made them such a force for change when they first appeared in 2005. This was corroberated by Gary Berman who quipped that the awards were 'gentrifying.'
It was agreed that the Awards' educational arm, Pug Ed, is an important program which has the the power to educate future generations about the vitality of their city and inspire them to think creatively about the urban environment. Putting its money where its mouth is, Pug Ed announced the winners of its annual student competition and awarded five budding urbanists a substantial monetary award to be put towards their post-secondary studies. UrbanToronto would like to congratulate first place winners Maximiliano Martin of Jesse Ketchum Public School and Saathveehan Basgarathas from Queen Alexandra Middle School as well as runners up Musa Rehman (Jesse Ketchum) and David Hao and Angel Chang (Queen Alexandra) on their awards!
The student ceremony was followed by the official awards which were broken down by typology.
Honorable Mention: Quay West at Tip Top, architectsAlliance, Monarch Group
Runner Up: James Cooper Mansion, Burka Architects and Goldsmith Borgal & Company, Tridel
Winner: 83 Redpath, Sweeny Sterling Finlayson &Co, The Benvenuto Group
Honorable Mention: Instructional Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough, Diamond Schmitt, University of Toronto Scarborough
Runner Up: St. Michael's Hospital Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Diamond Schmitt, St Michael's Hospital
Winner: The Centre for Green Cities, Evergreen Brick Works, Diamond Schmitt, Evergreen
The Paul Oberman Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Restoration
Winner: The Shops at Summerhill
If you were paying attention, you might have caught that all three Commercial/Institutional buildings are Diamond Schmitt Architects designs, a clean sweep that has not happened before in the Pugs history. A big congratulations to them, and in fact, congratulations to all of this year's winners!
Before host Gary Berman released the crowd, he noted that only five of the buildings in the Residential category had received an overall 'thumbs up' from voters. This surprised the audience and sent many in the crowd to Twitter to announce what they had heard.
UrbanToronto member Andrew Harvey was at the event and had an interesting reaction to Berman's comment:
"I was shocked when the emcees informed us that only the top 5 residential buildings had an overall 'Thumbs Up' from voters. I looked down the list and saw buildings such as Lumiere, among others, that consistently receive praise on UrbanToronto and within the development industry, and it struck me that it was one of the projects which was not flattered by the images posted on the Pugs website. Did Lumiere garner bad votes because of bad photos? Meanwhile, other projects which are maligned by many looked quite passable in their respective photographs.
It struck me that perhaps a way to level the playing field in future Pug Awards would be to allow voters to submit their own images for each building on the Pug Awards website during voting time. For the many voters who are less familiar with the buildings in question, this would allow them more views of each building, so that the veil of good (or bad) photography would be lifted and allow voters a more objective look at each design."
Would user-submitted pictures help even the playing field at future Pugs? Let us know whether you think the Pug Awards are succeeding in elevating Toronto's design culture or whether they may have lost some of their edge.