Are these our best new buildings?

Twenty-six building designs, most already realized in buildings erected in Toronto, were awarded by the city on Sept. 14.

The honours were presented as the city hosted the 2021 Toronto Urban Awards in a virtual ceremony to acknowledge the contribution of architects, designers and builders make to the appearance and livability of the city, according to a press release yesterday.

The bi-annual awards — last held in 2019 before the pandemic — are a public-private partnership, sponsored by design and development industry businesses and organizations.

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“Urban design is critical to ensuring that [Toronto’s] pace of change and growth results in longterm livability for everyone,” Toronto’s chief planner Greg Lintern said in opening the event. “But now more than ever before we can use change to support this city’s recovery and rebuild efforts to make sure we have dynamic, comfortable and beautiful spaces for residents, for new residents, for workers and all others who experience this city.”

Good urban design furthers the city’s work in improving housing and mobility, reducing poverty reduction and social inequity — to help create accessible, affordable and high quality of life for city residents, he said.

But especially since the pandemic “what is needed more than ever is a focus on what brings us together and that includes our public spaces and our built and natural environment,” Lintern said

The City reports it received 170 submissions in nine categories containing a variety of built projects, visions and master plans, and student works for this year’s awards.

From these an independent jury representing local and international design communities selected 11 projects for awards of excellence, 13 for awards of merit, and two special jury awards.

Among the winners were several in local communities.

Montcrest School Redevelopment

This school rebuild at 658 Broadview Ave. in Riverdale (see photo at top) won an award of excellence in the Private Buildings in Context – Low-Scale category for buildings four storeys or less.

Designed by a team headed by Montgomery Sisam Architects is described by the jury as being “gently nestled between a busy avenue, the ravine, and heritage properties.” It was lauded for enhancing the fabric and proportion of the neighbourhood snd for welcoming different ages and family groups to the neighbourhood.

Axis Condos win Urban Design Award
TOWERING WIN: Axis Condos awarded in tall category.

Axis Condos

This tower at 411 Church St. in the Church and Wellesley area, was awarded for excellence in Private Buildings in Context – Tall category.

The IBI Group headed the team that designed this “landmark tower with a striking street presence and visual identity,” according to the jury.

The building is especially noted for it striking balconies, and for its podium at the corner of Church and Wood streets that “enhances the street through the combination of architectural angles, canopy, and an innovative tower façade treatment that result in well-proportioned distances between residences and retail that face each other.”

Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex

This development on the Ryerson University campus, 288 Church St., in Toronto’s Garden District received an award of merit for Public Buildings in Context.” The project team architect was Perkins and Will.

Despite the project’s size, it is welcoming to street-level visitors, featuring seating along the street that provides comfortable places to pause, as well as canopies that bring the building down to a human scale and provide shelter, the jury notes. “Hospitable to the street on all sides, clear viewsheds create a feeling of safety even in laneways.”

Daphne Cockwell Complex win Urban Design Award
DAY AND NIGHT: The new Daphne Cockwell complex at Ryerson University was praised especially for its ground-level features.