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International landscape architecture conference to take place in Toronto in May 2015

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) recently announced a conference to be held on May 22, 2015 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, University of Toronto. 

Entitled “Making and Managing Toronto’s 21st-Century Landscape,” the conference will feature Toronto Mayor John Tory alongside experts from Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. Within the context of four days of related events and activities, the day-long conference will examine the role of landscape architecture in the city’s current and ambitious phase of urban development along its waterfront, in its diverse neighbourhoods, and the international implications of this planning and development strategy. It will also look at the city’s extant park system and how public/private partnerships could aid in effective long-term stewardship.

Conference registration is now available and an early-bird rate of $225 is in effect until April 1, 2015; after this date, the standard rate of $275 will apply. 

In addition to the conference, two days of free expert-led tours of the city’s diverse body of new and heritage-designed landscapes will be on offer—in tandem with the City of Toronto’s Doors Open architecture tours.

On Thursday, May 21st, a reception at the Gardiner Museum will launch the conference, What’s Out There Weekend Toronto, and the free online What’s Out There Toronto Guide. The evening will also honour the tremendous efforts by students and faculty at Ryerson University, who conducted extensive research and produced entries for the What’s Out There database on Toronto, the inaugural site outside of the United States.

Finally, the evening will culminate in the presentation of TCLF’s Stewardship Excellence Award to an individual, group and/or organization that embodies and promotes sound stewardship of the city’s landscape legacy.

On Saturday, May 23rd, there will be a late afternoon tour and twilight reception—featuring creative local cuisine paired with Ontario’s top wines and craft beers—in the BMO Atrium at Evergreen Brick Works. The former Don Valley Pressed Brick Works Company, which produced the bricks that built many of Toronto’s landmark buildings, is now a global showcase for green design and urban sustainability—and it was named one of the world’s top ten geotourism sites by National Geographic.

The events are being organized by TCLF in cooperation with a broad coalition of stakeholders including the City of Toronto’s Department of Planning and its Executive Director Jennifer Keesmaat—a featured conference participant, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, and presenting sponsors TD Bank, Great Gulf, the City of Toronto and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.  

Designed for an audience that is local, national and international, the conference will address:

* What does it mean for a 21st-century city to be historic and modern at the same time?
* Can the 21st-century city be both regional and global?
* Can we use landscape as an engine to meet market demands while cultivating a sustainable urbanism?
* What new models for public/private financing and management are emerging?
* How are existing parks and open spaces adapted to accommodate contemporary and future needs and expectations?
* How do innovative landscape planning and design techniques developed in Toronto apply to other cities, and vice versa—what is the impact of imported ideas on local conditions?

“Making and Managing Toronto’s 21st Century Landscape” will feature internationally significant private-sector practitioners working on current and proposed projects in Toronto, municipal leaders, leading critics and thinkers, and academics; it is expected to draw 500 people, with approximately 25% of the seats set aside for reduced-priced tickets for students. It follows in form and structure the enormously successful sold-out conferences organized by TCLF with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (2008), and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2011), each of which drew an international audience. 

Numerous globally significant, innovative, and influential practitioners are confirmed to participate including:

* Adriaan Geuze, Principal, West 8, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
* Thomas Woltz, Principal, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, New York and Charlottesville
* Claude Cormier, Principal, Claude Cormier + Associates, Montreal
* Marc Ryan, Principal, Public Work, Toronto
* Geoff Cape, CEO, Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto
* Elizabeth Silver, Senior Associate, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts
* Nina-Marie Lister, Associate Professor & Associate Director, School of Urban + Regional Planning, Ryerson University, Toronto
* Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner & Executive Director, City Planning Division, City of Toronto

The genesis of the conference stemmed from a May 2013 trip to Toronto by TCLF’s President and CEO, Charles A. Birnbaum, an internationally recognized expert on landscape architecture. The trip was organized by Toronto-based practitioners Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Inc.; and Michael McClelland, Principal, ERA Architects, Inc. Birnbaum subsequently wrote a Huffington Post article about the new waterfront development and the legacy parks and open spaces he toured.

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