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Winning projects named at National Urban Design Awards


October 18, 2018
by Canadian Architect

The 12 projects receiving 2018 National Urban Design Awards reflect a range of ideas about reclaiming and enhancing public space while addressing challenges such as urban density, environmental sustainability, and affordability.RAIC National Urban Design Awards

The winners include an urban design plan for Toronto that seeks to establish sufficient parks and open space to support a doubling of the downtown population. In Montreal, new way-finding aims to make the city’s mountain more accessible. Old Quebec City has replaced a parking lot with a waterfront park, while lanes in Vancouver have become places of social activity.

Other projects include a bee centre in Charlottetown, a proposal for outdoor spaces made of snow in Edmonton and fixing a “spaghetti junction” in the Toronto district of Etobicoke.

The National Urban Design Awards is a biennial Canadian awards program established by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects in 2006. The program showcases excellence in urban design, raises public awareness of the role of urban design in sustainability and quality of life in Canadian cities, and recognizes the contributions of individuals, organizations, firms, and projects.

The awards are part of a two-tier program held in cooperation with Canadian municipalities, in which the National Urban Design Awards jury evaluates winners of the 2017 municipal awards and entries submitted at large.

The 2018 jury members are:

  • Taymoore Balbaa, MRAIC, architect, co-founder of AXIA Design Associates in Toronto, and recipient of the RAIC Young Architect Award;
  • Doug Leighton, planner, urban designer, and VP Sustainability for Brookfield Residential Properties in Calgary;
  • Diane Matichuk, principal landscape architect at Civitas Group in Ottawa.

The awards will be presented on January 7, 2019, at the Ottawa Art Gallery in Ottawa, in conjunction with the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism Forum Lecture Series. The event is open to the public.

Medal Recipients

Category: Urban Design Plans

TOcore: Downtown Parks and Public Realm Plan | Toronto, ON | Completion: 2018 | Lead Organizations: PUBLIC WORK and City of Toronto | Client: City of Toronto

The plan establishes a vision and framework for an expanded, improved, and connected parks, and public realm network within downtown Toronto to support a doubling of its population over the next 25 years.

“It is a highly useful template for the citizen, designer, and politician to understand the ways in which Toronto could achieve a public realm that is more accessible, cohesive, and of greater substance.”

Category: Urban Fragments

Discovery Halts (Escales découvertes) | Montreal, QC | Completion: 2018 | Lead Firms: civiliti and julie margot design | Client: City of Montreal

Designed to commemorate Montreal’s 375th anniversary in 2017, the project aims to provide visitors to Mount Royal with a new experience of the mountain and a clearer understanding of its natural and historical features.

“The project demonstrates a high degree of appreciation for the rich architectural and landscape history of the Mount Royal Heritage Site.”

Category: Sustainable Development

Rehabilitation of the waterfront and boardwalk at the Anse-du-Sud sector of Percé, QC | Completion: 2018 | Lead Firm: AECOM | Client: City of Percé

Devastated by climate change events, the waterfront and boardwalk received exceptional assistance from the Quebec government to fast-track a project for their protection and rehabilitation.

“The shoreline was made resilient to future storms through environmentally sustainable design measures.”

Category: Small or Medium Community Urban Design Award

The Kuujjuaq Hackathon 2017: Reassembling the North | Northern Village of Kuujjuaq, QC |Completion: 2017 | Lead Organization: McGill University, Minimum Cost Housing/Hackathon Group |Client: The Northern Village of Kuujjuaq

Residents of the Northern Village of Kuujjauq and designers from southern Quebec repurposed materials from the village dump to design and build an outdoor sports pavilion.

“The modest scope of the project raises the question of what could be achieved if this approach to revitalization of remote communities was properly funded and resourced.”

Category: Community Initiatives Award

Urban Beehive Project | Charlottetown, PEI | Completion: 2018 | Lead Firm: Nine Yards Studio

In collaboration with the community, the architects created a destination to learn about the importance of bees in a sustainable environment.

“The innovative Urban Beehive Project shows how urban design can help address, educate, and inspire people to protect and conserve the environment.”

Category: Student Projects

[tactical] Infrastructure | Edmonton, AB | Completion: 2017 | Lead: Bryce Clayton (University of Waterloo)

This proposal is for the City of Edmonton to use snow and the involvement of citizen groups to create winter public spaces in the downtown core.

“This project is a provocative call to action for all winter cities to use the snow that would otherwise be removed to shape interactive, outdoor spaces.”

Category: Urban Architecture

Place des Canotiers: Parkade, Artifact Wall, and Public Realm |Quebec City, QC |Completion: 2017 | Lead Firms: DAOUST LESTAGE and ABCP | Client: National Capital Commission of Quebec

A multidisciplinary team of urban designers, architects, landscape architects, industrial, and graphic designers transformed a surface parking lot into Old Quebec’s largest public space.

“You couldn’t pick a much more challenging site nor imagine a better design solution.”

Award Category: Civic Design Projects

Place Vauquelin | Montreal, QC | Completion: 2017 | Lead Firm: Lemay (Marie- Ève Parent, Jean-Philippe André, Sophie Lacoste, Carlos Santibanez) | Client: City of Montreal and Government of Quebec

The aim was to restore Place Vauquelin in Old Montreal’s administrative district and maximize its natural and historic features.

“Last updated over a half-century ago, the new Place Vauquelin solidifies its importance in Old Montreal’s landscape heritage.”

Certificates of Merit

Category: Student Projects

Domestic Insurgency – Towards Affordable Housing in Vancouver | Vancouver, BC | Completion: 2018 | Lead: James Banks (University of Waterloo)

This thesis develops a housing framework for the private sector to build dwellings for a range of incomes.

“Domestic Insurgency offers a thorough reading of the issues that could lead to a more equitable and mixed-income housing ecosystem for Vancouver.”

Category: Urban Fragments

More Awesome Now Laneway Activations | Vancouver, BC | Completion: Alley-Oop (2016); Ackery’s Alley (2018) |Lead Firm: HCMA Architecture + Design | Client: Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association

In a city where land value continues to rise, the More Awesome Now project creates public space by activating city laneways.

“This compelling project shows us that with a sharing mindset single-use urban spaces can be vibrant social spaces.”

Category: Urban Design Plans

Six Points Interchange | Etobicoke, ON | Plan Completion: 2013 | Lead Firm: SvN | Client: City of Toronto

This 60s-era, “spaghetti junction” will be replaced by an at-grade pedestrian-friendly intersection, boulevards, trees, bike lanes, and space for patios.

“This project provides an excellent template for other cities and towns to repair their own spaghetti junctions.”

Category: Community Initiatives Award

The 4th Ave Flyover | Calgary, AB |Completion: 2017 |Project Lead: Tawab Hlimi, Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary

The project involved Grade 6 students and the local community in designing improvements to a dead-end street hidden under a flyover.

“The 4th Avenue Flyover project successfully reclaims an incidental roadway into a vibrant nature-play environment using a tactical approach of community action and inexpensive materials.”


A closer look at each of the National Urban Design Awards winners is available via the RAIC, linked here.



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