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Architectural Conservancy of Ontario re-launches TO Built as a crowd sourced information system


November 19, 2015
by Elsa Lam

We all wonder: who designed that building or landscape? When was it built? … and so on.

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Toronto Branch (ACOTO) is making it easier to share such information by re-launching TO Built as an online database that any ACOTO member can augment.

The first 7000 listings in the database were photographed and researched by one person, archivist Robert Krwaczyk, who was awarded Honourary membership in the Ontario Association of Architects for his superlative work. The database was donated to ACOTO, and the re-launch was part of a new ACOTO website, designed by Barry Veerkamp at Meta Strategies.

Over the past two summers, ACOTO student researchers have cross-referenced all of the architect listings for Rosedale with those found in the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada and have added over 200 new architectural attributions in that important Toronto neighbourhood.

ACO’s hope is that TO Built will become the go-to place to share information for architects, community researchers, and heritage professionals, whether in private practice or government. Architects will be able to post their portfolio of buildings, PDFs, photographs and include a link to their websites—a great way to make sure the public knows “who designed that building.” Community groups researching buildings will be able to use this as a central place to store the information they are collecting.

While ready to use, the system will be modified on an ongoing basis; for example, ACOTO hopes to align the fields to permit output in a format compatible with Heritage Conservation Districts. We are sure that as people start to use it there will be lots of ideas. Please send any suggestions or comments you may have to ACO President Catherine Nasmith at cnasmith@me.com.

While no online database can guarantee 100% accuracy, to be included new entries must include information sources. New entries will go into a holding area to be checked by ACOTO before going live.

The laptop version is available now, and will be followed very soon by TOBuilt for tablets and smartphones. It is ACO’s hope that Toronto’s architectural fans will make TOBuilt their own, use it to find information and start adding new buildings right away.