DIALOG announces launch of “Carleton Studio”, six-week program for graduate students

Carleton Studio - Rail Deck Park Site visit. Photo credit: DIALOG.
Carleton Studio – Rail Deck Park site visit. Photo credit: DIALOG.

DIALOG has announced the launch of “Carleton Studio,” an architectural studio for 15 graduate students from Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism at the design firm’s Toronto studio. The program comprises a six-week term to gain on-the-ground industry experience and access to professional networks before completing school.

The firm has assigned the Rail Deck Park project as the Carleton Studio’s core initiative, a timely and significant project where the students will be able to learn first-hand how to highlight and prioritize a city building agenda. Students, alongside DIALOG architects, engineers and urban planners, will develop concepts for Rail Deck Park, a project currently being investigated by the City of Toronto for implementation in the downtown core. The City has invested $2-million to form a task force to explore the feasibility of the Rail Deck Park. Separately, DIALOG will be fully funding the Carleton Studio to support the initiative.

“Toronto is at a watershed moment where the liveability of downtown is of paramount importance. We are embracing density because it is the sustainable approach in developing cities; dense cities significantly reduce our per capita environmental footprint,” says Antonio Gomez-Palacio, principal, DIALOG. “The old city of Toronto was not designed to accommodate a large population in such close quarters, so we have some catching up to do.”

“The Rail Deck Park can bring a significant amount of much-needed open space to reconnect isolated neighbourhoods and families, provide the city with greater accessibility to its waterfront, and to enhance the quality of downtown where people live, play, and work,” he says.

Carleton Studio - Students arrive at DIALOG. Photo credit: DIALOG.
Carleton Studio – Students arrive at DIALOG. Photo credit: DIALOG.

The Carleton Studio students will be led by principals Craig Applegath and Antonio Gomez-Palacio, both architects and urban designers, as well as the Toronto studio’s managing principal, David Cerny, healthcare design engineer and business case development expert. The curriculum was developed by DIALOG and will include counsel from the City of Toronto’s Planning Department, developer stakeholders Concord Adex, Allied Properties, Concert Properties, as well as other city builders.

“Building a constituency of future city designers and builders who embrace the larger aspiration of what our cities can do fits into our mission to create resilient urban centres,”says David Cerny, Toronto studio’s managing principal, DIALOG. “We hope students across Canada and abroad will think about how to tackle what is a unique and universal problem: enriching the quality of life when faced with a seemingly built-up environment.”

The Rail Deck Park is projected to significantly improve the socio-economic conditions in Toronto by driving and complimenting mixed-use development that surrounds it. The City has one year to submit a feasibility analysis, including legal considerations, real estate negotiations, and rail corridor operations for an adaptive re-use 21-acre park that will create strong connections between Fort York, Garrison Commons, and the surrounding area.

“Our goal is to develop a novel approach to tackle the real issues the City will face that addresses planning and development challenges while encouraging a fertile and desirable growing environment,” says Craig Applegath, principal, DIALOG. “Doing this is a win for the Carleton students to gain on-the-ground experience outside of their normal environment, and it’s a win for the Toronto residents working in our studio who are personally invested in how our city progresses.”

Previous work by DIALOG, including the elevated structure for the Federal Building Centennial Plaza and Walterdale Bridge Replacement, both in Edmonton, will help inform the process.