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Urban designers, architects invited to enter 2017 Toronto Urban Design Awards

Although architecture and to a lesser extent design would seem to be the most concrete of disciplines, their raw materials being steel, glass, brick, and yes, concrete, architects and designers are actually much given to abstract thought as well. A well-known practitioner of design, Alexander Holder of Harvard university’s Graduate School of Design and the Los Angeles Design Group is giving a talk in Toronto tomorrow. The announcement for his talk says that perhaps we can think of buildings differently, not as empty containers in which we gather our stuff, but as ways or organising the space between the endless, undifferentiated field of things—“phones, columns, books, knick-knacks, asphalt, clothes, garbage, walls, etc. etc.”

Whether any Toronto architects and designers think that way is unknown to us, but it is certain that our planning department believes that how we use space is especially important in the public realm. Excellent design enhances a city’s livability, economic prowess, and global profile, and it makes us a little happier too. A city design review panel, comprising architects, landscape architects, urban designers and engineers provides independent, objective advice to the city staff on matters of design, such as preserving unique places, maintaining vitality, and ensuring the comfort and safety of the public.

Given how important urban design is, it is only fitting that the city should honour those who do it best. Today the city announced the call for entries for the 2017 edition of the Toronto Urban Design Awards. Those wishing to enter have until May 3.

The Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, University of Toronto, winner of the 2015 Toronto Urban Design Award in the public buildings in context category,

There are seven categories in which to enter

Elements: stand-alone objects, public art installations, landscape elements or small-scale pieces of a building which contributes significantly to the quality of the public realm. Examples of this category include benches, doorways, signage, canopies, porches or colonnades, gateways, light fixtures, walkways, stairways, barrier-free access, fences and works of art.

Private buildings in context: here they are looking for excellent design in individual buildings or a composition of buildings, which pay particular attention to their relationship to the public realm. This could include being pedestrian friendly, the look of the building, and how it relates to the natural environment.

Public buildings in context has similar criteria as for the private buildings. Submissions may include education, healthcare, recreation, cultural, community and civic buildings.

Barbara Hall Park, 2015 winner in the small open spaces category.

Small open spaces may include courtyards, plazas, forecourt, gardens, trails, mews and small neighbourhood parks. The jury is looking for spaces that provide an extension and addition to the public realm “in an exemplary way.” They do not have to be publicly owned, but must be publicly accessible.

Large places or neighbourhood designs include parks, area/district plans, neighbourhood plans, subdivisions, industrial parks, campus plans and streetscapes. Here the jury is looking for innovation, particularly with reference to infrastructure, environmental management, and sustainable design, as well as community involvement and acceptance.

Visions and master plans is a category for unexecuted visions for the city, studies and master plans of “high inspirational value.” Submissions could include any project that fits the large places or neighbourhoods designs criteria but are unbuilt.

Students in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and other design programs are invited to submit theoretical or studio projects relating to Toronto.

Complete details about how to enter can be found here.

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