The 2019 Toronto Urban Design Awards were handed out earlier this week, where the best and brightest in new local design were honoured for contributions to the city’s built form. Aside from the awards presentation, the night included a speech from Mayor John Tory, honouring the award winners, while also outlining three new initiatives that will help enhance existing City of Toronto buildings with a renewed focus on design.

Mayor John Tory announced his support for three new initiatives, conceived with input received from more than 20 of the city’s leading developers, architects and designers. The objective was to explore how the municipal government could work with these city-builders to improve the quality of design in the city’s built environment. 

The first of these initiatives calls for the launch of an ideas competition that will invite the design community to present new options for low-rise housing to help address a severe shortage in "missing middle" housing. Mayor Tory states that this plan would also, "Inform the more permissive regulations we will develop when it comes to multi-unit housing in neighbourhoods."

The second initiative seeks to implement a design competition led by CreateTO for all major civic projects. This plan is based of the success of a similar design competition to redevelop the Etobicoke Civic Centre, and will ensure that all future similar large-scale civic projects would go through a a design competition run by CreateTO.

Etobicoke Civic Centre, image courtesy of City of Toronto

The third—and possibly most far-reaching—initiative is the introduction of a Mayor’s civic design initiative to encourage design-forward planning when it comes to key public projects. This proposal would open up select public-facing projects to a design-forward procurement process, emphasizing building design over the often excessive focus on cost-cutting. Mayor Tory cites the Toronto Public Library's most recent new buildings as examples of the forward-thinking design this initiative seeks to emulate.

Albion Library, image courtesy of Toronto Public Library

“Today’s announcement is another step we are taking to address the various challenges that we face in our city and to ensure that Toronto maintains its reputation as a vibrant, diverse, affordable and safe city,” said Mayor John Tory. "Tonight, is a call to action to everyone and anyone who is interested in pushing our city forward and being part of something big. The design of our city and its buildings will play a large role in increasing the liveability of our city so it is vital we work with our partners and our residents to find ways to address the challenges we face."

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