In Memoriam: Andrea Gabor

Andrea Gabor, 1952-2015
Andrea Gabor, 1952-2015

The Toronto architectural community mourns the loss of Andrea Gabor, who passed away on December 24, 2015 at Bridgepoint Health Centre.

Andrea was an astute, warm and dedicated professional urban planner.  She loved cities and urban life, and will be remembered for building a legacy of vital contributions to her adopted city, Toronto, to cities and places around the world, and to her profession as an urban planner.  Her projects have been awarded numerous provincial, national, and international honours. She elevated the profession, enthusiastically mentoring many young planners, and playing a vital role as President of the Canadian Institute of Planners. Andrea completed her undergraduate education at McGill University in Sociology, continuing on to the Master’s in Urban Planning.  She arrived in Toronto in 1977 with her husband Peter, a residential architect.

Early in her career in Toronto, Andrea joined the City of North York, where she was involved in its first tentative steps towards transformation from a suburban city to an urbanized centre.  In 1985 Andrea joined Joe Berridge and Frank Lewinberg in the planning and urban design consultancy now known as Urban Strategies, and became one of the firm’s earliest partners.

Andrea’s professional practice has largely focussed on the planning of new urban development, always deeply respecting the public interest balanced with the need for realistic implementation.  Many of her Toronto development projects are now built and occupied.  She was responsible for the intensification of the Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre in western Toronto, for the Bay-Dundas complex built behind City Hall, for the Cathedral Development in Markham and for many others.  Her continuing work for the highly prominent Canada Life (later Great West Life) project at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue resulted in a fine city-building redevelopment, receiving the 1999 Ontario Professional Planners Institute Merit Award. She helped catalyze the new Southcore Financial centre, securing approvals for a new hotel and office building, also for Great West Life.

Several of Andrea’s projects are now recognized as among the best of Toronto.  Alexandra Park, an aging TCHC social housing complex tucked in between Spadina and Bathurst, owes its master plan for complete renewal to Andrea’s special touch; redevelopment is now solidly under way.  Sadly, she did not live to see its completion, nor that of another project close to her heart, the redevelopment of Casey House, a central Toronto AIDS hospice.

Andrea enthusiastically contributed to her profession; she was designated a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners, reflecting her status as one of its most prominent planning practitioners in Ontario and Canada.  She was part of the Central Board of Management of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute from 1990 – 1992 and a member of its Policy Development Committee from 2000 – 2004.  She actively represented the planning profession at the Toronto Region Board of Trade and became Chair of its Planning Committee.  She was a regular speaker on planning and related public issues in Toronto and across Canada.

Andrea capped her long career of service by becoming the President of the Canadian Institute of Planners, where she concluded her three-year term just as she was diagnosed with an illness that was to become terminal.  This position took her across Canada and the world where she represented Canadian planners and planning with enthusiasm and panache.

For information on the Andrea Gabor Memorial Fund or to sign her online memorial book, please visit this link.