Buildup To Greenbuild: See The Winners of the Toronto Urban Design Awards

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30,000 green building professionals are coming to Toronto for Greenbuild in October; this series will try to explain Toronto to them.

Every two years the City of Toronto presents the Urban Design Awards, with an independent jury choosing among dozens of submissions. Many of this year's winners are within walking distance of Greenbuild. This year's jury, (Ralph Giannone, John Lorinc, Ronji Borooah, Greg Smallenberg, Christine Abe) must have had a tough time; there was some great stuff submitted and some difficult choices made. Like the one above, the Salvation Army Harbour Lightbox by Diamond and Schmitt Architects and du Toit Allsopp Hillier Ltd in the Elements category:

With its understated but stirring design, the chapel succeeds in literally illuminating a long neglected intersection on lower Jarvis. It anchors the attached residential towers and frames an internal courtyard. But with its massing, luminous facade and compact scale, the chapel manages to communicate the Harbour Light's spiritual and humanitarian mission while respecting the corner of Jarvis Street and Shuter Street.


Private buildings in Context- Low Scale: Shops of Summerhill
AUDAXarchitecture inc., Du Toit Allsopp Hillier Architects Ltd, Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects.

This was a very tough category, with a lot of beautiful buildings (and four honourable mentions). There is no question that the Shops of Summerhill is a beautiful project that demonstrates how to mix the old and new:

The jury selected the Shops for the Award of Excellence because the addition demonstrates great attention to exterior detail, the use of fine materials, and close attention to pedestrian scale and orientation

But I suspect it was also a sentimental favourite, the last project completed before the tragic death of developer Paul Oberman.

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Private Buildings In Context, Midrise: 60 Richmond Housing Co op, Teeple Architects

Well this is no surprise, it is going to be walking away with awards for the next couple of years, a must-see for Greenbuilders.

The jury was very taken with 60 Richmond, a housing co-op described in the submission as "an alternative to the local ubiquitous glass tower condominium." Agreed. The 11-storey LEED-certified structure rises sharply from the sidewalk, but the planes of the charcoal walls are broken up by recessed openings and terraces, irregular window placement and a striking use of exterior materials and contrasting colour palettes. The terraces function as social spaces and upper level gardens. The effect is playful and very contemporary.

See also Stephen Teeple Shows That Social Housing Can Be Green and Gorgeous


Telus House Toronto. Adamson Associates Architects, Sweeny Sterling Finlayson
&Co; Architects Inc.

Greenbuilders will fall out of the Convention Centre or the Air Canada Centre in front of this.

The Telus building confidently heralds the return of the tall office building. But instead of the standard "cereal box" design, the architects have met the client's needs with a structure that responds admirably to its urban context.

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Public Buildings in Context: Bell Lightbox, Kuwabara Paine McKenna Blumberg Architects, Kirkor Architects

A short walk from the Convention Centre and a hit in Toronto, the new Bell Lightbox is perhaps the most beautiful set of cinemas you will ever see. The whole complex is a true homage to the movie. I can't get enough of it.

From an urban design perspective, the podium is a completely original and compelling addition to Toronto's downtown streetscapes. It represents an assertive modernist response to a block dominated by Victorian-era commercial buildings.


West Toronto Railpath Scott Torrance Landscape Architect, Brown and Storey Architects

This was a surprise, beating out the magnificent green roof podium at Toronto City Hall. It's Toronto's own version of the High Line, a glorious little linear park.

The park's design is an inviting composition of sensitive landscaping that respects the wild quality of the rail corridor, combined with public art pieces and distinctive markers around the entry points and intersections with the street grid. As with the High Line in New York, the Railpath is a unique local response to a previous era's transportation infrastructure. It suggests powerful new possibilities about how pedestrians and cyclists can move through the city.


Canada's Sugar Beach Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes

Not a surprise, it has everything, humour, style, just a great place to be. The hit of the waterfront.

In every way, Sugar Beach represents a superb addition to the city's public realm, creating an intimate but spacious vantage point from which to enjoy the harbour.


Visions and Master Plans: The Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge Montgomery Sisam

How we know that the jury was independent. This bridge was cancelled by the mayor as one of his first "cost saving" moves, even though it was budgeted and all of the money spent on the competition and the design were wasted. But it was for bikes and pedestrians, and they don't count in Toronto anymore. I am sure the politicians were thrilled with this one.

From an urban design perspective, the proposal succeeds because it uses innovative shapes and forms to entice pedestrians and cyclists to cross a wide and, for some, forbidding expanse of track. The jury also commends the bridge's mandate to reconnect the city to a foundational historic site that has been brutally isolated by transportation infrastructure.

View Lloyd Alter's Picks For Greenbuild 2011 in a larger map

Buildup To Greenbuild: See The Winners of the Toronto Urban Design Awards
Every two years the City of Toronto presents the Urban Design Awards, with an independent jury choosing among dozens

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