Tory Announces New Design-First Initiatives at Toronto Urban Design Awards

Every other year, the City of Toronto hosts the Toronto Urban Design Awards to acknowledge the contribution that architects, landscape architects, urban designers, artists, design students and city builders make to the city.

Members of Toronto’s design and development community came together at the Palais Royal on September 10th to commemorate the 2019 winners.

At this year’s event, Mayor John Tory made a surprise announcement of four major city-led design initiatives. “We’re going to up our game in design,” he said. The initiatives are based on a roundtable that Tory convened with the city’s leading architects and developers.

The first is an ideas competition for missing middle housing—a range of building typologies that the city is starting to encourage. “A vibrant and affordable city is dependent on multi-unit housing conducive with the kinds of neighbourhoods that residents treasure,” said Tory. He hopes the call will demonstrate how it’s possible to allow gentle density in ways “that will be very attractive,” both aesthetically and financially. 

The second policy, said Tory, is that all major civic projects will go to international open competitions led by the agency CreateTO. The initiative builds on the success of the Etobicoke City Centre revitalization, a competition won by Copenhagen-based Henning Larson with Adamson Associates in 2017. Tory says that the other major civic centres are due for revitalization, and will follow the model taken by Etobicoke City Centre. 

Third, Tory announced an intention to open up procurement of projects to firms of different sizes. This will begin with a pilot initiative, in which 10 to 12 projects are awarded to smaller firms. “We want to prove that we get better design and better results, and that you can do this without blowing the budget,” said Tory. 

“Good design is good value,” said Tory. “The two are not mutually exclusive.”

Finally, Tory announced a call to action to the private sector to enhance the design of building bases. He intends for the city to be “stronger and stricter” around creating ground-oriented design that results in better places for pedestrians.

Following Tory’s address, the awards were given. This year, there were a total of 113 submissions in nine categories, ranging from built projects and master plans to student works.

A five-member jury selected a total of nine projects for Awards of Excellence, 12 for Awards of Merit and one for a Special Jury Award.

The jury included: Jane Hutton, Nina-Marie Lister, David Miller, Emmy Scholten, and Alexandru Taranu.

The 2019 award winners follow by category:


  • Award of Excellence: The Luminous Veil, Prince Edward Viaduct — Dereck Revington Studio
  • Award of Excellence: The Blue Room, 802, 834 and 940 College St. — PMA Landscape Architects Ltd.
  • Award of Merit: Indigenous Cultural Markers, Humber College North and Lakeshore Campuses — Indigenous Design Studio/ Brook McIlroy
  • Award of Merit: Nathan Phillips Square Bicycle Station, 100 Queen St. W. — uoai


Private Buildings in Context – Low Scale

  • Award of Merit: Casey House, 119 Isabella St. — Hariri Pontarini Architects/ Mark Hartley Landscape Architects
Casey House, 119 Isabella St.; Photo credit: Doublespace Photography

Private Buildings in Context – Mid-Rise

  • Award of Merit: DUKE, 2803 Dundas St. W. — Quadrangle/ Brook McIlroy
  • Award of Merit: 109 OZ, 109 Ossington Ave. — RAW Design/ Graziani+Corazza Architects/ Strybos Barron King


Private Buildings in Context – Tall

  • Award of Merit: SQ at Alexandra Park, 55 Cameron St. — Teeple Architects/ Janet Rosenberg & Studio Inc.
SQ at Alexandra Park, 55 Cameron St.; Photo credit: Scott Norsworthy

Public Buildings in Context

  • Award of Excellence: Albion Library, 1515 Albion Rd. — Perkins and Will/DTAH
  • Award of Excellence: Daniels Building, One Spadina Cresc. — NADAAA/PUBLIC WORK
  • Award of Merit: Odeyto Indigenous Centre at Seneca College, 1750 Finch Ave. E. — Gow Hasting Architects/ Two Row Architect/ FORREC Ltd.
  • Award of Merit: Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto, 55 St. George St. — Montgomery Sisam Architects Inc. in association with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/ NAK Design Strategies

Small Open Spaces

  • Award of Excellence: Trillium Park & William G. Davis Trail, 955 Lake Shore Blvd. W. — LANDinc/ Christopher Wallace Architect
  • Award of Merit: College Promenade BIA Streetscape and Parkettes, College St. Promenade — PMA Landscape Architects Ltd.

Large Places and/or Neighbourhood Designs

  • Award of Excellence: Grange Park Revitalization, 26 Grange Rd. — PFS Studio/ thinc design/ Hariri Pontarini Architects
  • Award of Excellence: Berczy Park, 35 Wellington St. E. — Claude Cormier et Associés

Visions and Master Plans

  • Award of Excellence: TOcore: Downtown Parks and Public Realm Plan, Downtown Toronto — PUBLIC WORK
  • Award of Merit: Laneway Suites: A New Housing Typology for Toronto — Lanescape Inc.
  • Award of Merit: Humber Bay Park Master Plan, 2225 Lake Shore Blvd. W. — DTAH

Student Projects

  • Award of Excellence: The Urban Living Room, Toronto Port Lands — Zoal Razaq
  • Award of Merit: Spaces for Economic Diversity, North York and City-Wide — Yuxun Emmeily Zhang

Special Jury Award for Catalytic Infrastructure

  • Port Lands Flood Protection & Enabling Infrastructure Project- Bridge Design and Engineering — Grimshaw Architects/ Quinn Design Associates
Port Lands Flood Protection & Enabling Infrastructure Project- Bridge Design and Engineering; Image Credits: Grimshaw Architects

A display of the winning entries will take place at the following locations:

  • City Hall rotunda from September 23 to 26
  • Scarborough Civic Centre gallery from September 30 to October 3
  • North York Civic Centre from October 7 to 11
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre from October 14 to 18