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The Modern Home Tour comes to Toronto this weekend

Get a peek inside some of Toronto's most creative homes this Saturday as The Modern Home Tour Toronto makes its debut, giving residents the opportunity to explore some of the city's most architecturally interesting modern homes. Six houses are confirmed thus far, but the tour hopes to feature up to ten.
Among the included homes:
"Canada's premier garden guru" Marjorie Harris will show off her "outdoor oasis," as described by the Modern Home Tour's website. Located on Albany Avenue, the home features an indoor dining room designed to "retain the airy, outdoor quality of a deck perched inside a garden." Architecture by: PLANT Architect Inc. 
Now for an "urban oasis," a lower penthouse loft located on King Street East promises to delight viewers with its open layout that "highlights the south-facing wrap-around terrace." It features industrial influences and minimalist charm. Architecture by: re:THINK Design Studio. 
Additionally, there's an "exclusive peek at a brand new property in Trinity Bellwoods Townhomes, "a development of 45 modern homes in downtown west, designed by Richard Wengle with Cecconi Simone." As well, "a new home in the Pelham Park area, built in 2009 by Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited to replace an old Vatican-style home destroyed by a four-alarm fire in 2008." 
Tickets are $30 up until 8 p.m. on June 7 and $40 if purchased on the day of. The tour has partnered with the Red Door Family Shelter, a non-profit organization that helps get homeless families back on their feet. "They will help staff the event and use the tour as a fundraising vehicle," a press release says. 
Read the full story here with additional information here and here
Original source: Canadian Architect

ROM recognized as one of the world's most spectacular museums

The Royal Ontario Museum has been named one of the world's most spectacular museums by Emporis, a global Germany-based company that collects data on publically and economically valuable buildings. Museums were reviewed and selected by a jury of "building experts" from Emporis. 
The report aims to look at the museum itself as a contributor to "the breathtaking symbiosis of exhibits and architecture," and cites museums among "the most impressive buildings of our time."
The selection featured 15 museums from Austria to Qatar. Here's what was said about the ROM:
Museum design allows architects to play with a very wide range of architectural forms and styles. This can be seen for example in Daniel Libeskind's deconstructivist works such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin or the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. His asymmetrical structures of iridescent steel and glass, with sloping floors and walls without right-angles, attract the attention. That an empty architectural shell can draw crowds all by itself was demonstrated by the 350,000 visitors who came to marvel at the Jewish Museum even before it opened.
Famed architect Frank O. Gehry, originally from Toronto, was also recognized. The report states:
The most prominent example is star architect Frank O. Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao, a building that stands like no other for this new understanding of museum architecture. The shiny silver monumental sculpture was the principal reason for Bilbao's transformation from a small industrial city into a major international center of art, a transformation that has come to be known as the "Bilbao Effect." The building continues to this day to influence the architecture of many a 21st-century museum.
Read the full report here
Original source: Emporis

Toronto cyborg weighs in on Google Glass project

Self-proclaimed cyborg Steve Mann is concerned about the Google Glass project. Known as the "father of wearable computing" for his pioneering role in advanced existential technologies, Mann has been experimenting with what he calls "computer-mediated reality" systems since the 1970's and he has been designing and wearing computerized eyewear for decades. 
The tenured University of Toronto professor wrote an extensive piece entitled "My Augmediated Life" for IEEE Spectrum, a technology and science magazine where he is both an editor and a chairman. In the piece he details his findings after 35 years of wearing computerized eyewear. 
The article outlines various examples of times the glasses, which he wears permanently, have played a key role in one of his life's developments. But his main argument centres around Google's Project Glass, the augmented reality glasses that have become media babes since Google began prototyping developer versions in 2011. These glasses are designed to enhance reality by providing additional information to the wearer's surroundings. 
Mann calls Google's Project Glass a "much less ambitious" version than the systems he's developed, but elicits excitement writing, "If Google’s vigorous media campaign for its Project Glass is any indication of the company’s commitment, wearable computers with head-mounted cameras and displays are poised finally to become more than a geek-chic novelty." 
He worries Google may be neglecting important lessons, that the company's design decisions could "make it hard for many folks to use the systems. Worse, poorly configured products might even damage some people's eyesight and set the movement back years." 
The article goes on to explore darker themes surrounding Big Brother versus Little Brother, potential problems glasses like this could cause for citizens and governments alike, most of which stems from walking around with cameras mounted on our heads. He'll be exploring these notions along with other speakers further in at the Augmented World conference in Toronto in June.
Read the full story here
Original source: IEEE Spectrum

Toronto Solar Ship could revolutionize access to critical medical supplies in remote areas

A Toronto company hopes to transform the way critical medical and hospital supplies are delivered to remote areas in the world through its unique solar-powered airship. It's been a dream of Canadian entrepreneur Jay Godsall since he was in high school and now, thanks in part to an in-progress crowd-funded IndieGoGo campaign and potential support from investors, the project is finally taking off.
Thirty years in the making, the aircraft is Toronto-company Solar Ship's most important innovation. It's a hybrid between a bush plane and an airship, powered by solar panels, lifted by helium, and designed to access hard-to-reach places, "where roads don't exist and planes can't land." 
The company has built four prototypes since 2009, but the real mission of the IndieGoGo campaign is to establish enough funding to begin delivering medical supplies to villages in Cape Town, Africa. The company is seeking $1 million through crowd-funding and investors to cover the costs of medical supplies, aircraft development, and training.
“Airships are older than radios, older than automobiles,” Godsall told BBC, “but no one has quite had the mission to do something like this with one.”
There is some backlash. The crafts are expensive and a worldwide helium shortage may cause problems, the BBC article says. In addition, these aircrafts may not be well received in communities unfamiliar with giant hovering aircrafts. “The eastern Congo is not a place you can just pull up in your hospital ship," Dr. Amy Lehman, founder of Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, an organization that uses small boats to supply medical treatment around the great lake, including eastern Congo, told BBC. 
Despite this, Godsall claims the company has funding should the IndieGoGo campaign prove ineffective (at press time, the campaign had raised just under $7,000). He says the company's persistence is the key to its success. “We build em’, fly em’, build em’ and fly em’, and now, we’ve nailed it.”
Read the full story here.
Original source: BBC

Sugar Beach snags another design award

The Daily Commercial News and Construction Record reports that Toronto's Sugar Beach has won yet another design award, "the sixth major design accolade that the park has won since opening in July 2010."
This time it's an honour award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, recognizing the efforts of Claude Cormier + Associés, Inc.
"The sugar factory creates a surreal industrial backdrop, where gantry cranes offload mountains of sandy raw sugar from giant tankers moored in the slip," writes the ASLA on its awards page. "With the fragrance of sugar in the air, the park's conceptual reference is experienced in both sight and smell. Sugar as concept was used to establish a language for many of the elements throughout the park, from the red and white bedrock candy stripes on the park's two outcroppings, the soft confection-like pink of the umbrellas, and even the candy cane pattern on the stainless steel ventilation pipes for the fountain mechanical room buried under the promenade."
"Canada's Sugar Beach was created to have a strong identity to draw visitors ultimately for an experience of the park's unique setting of lake and city. It is a space that unites opposites, without conflating them, to allow for an experience of both nature and culture, work and play, production and consumption — a microcosm of the urban phenomenon where participation relies on which direction you position your chaise and fix your gaze."
Other winners include Lafayette Greens: Urban Agriculture, Urban Fabric, Urban Sustainability in Detroit; Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden, Songjiant District, Shanghai, China; Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus – New Academic Complex, Mesa, Arizona; 200 5th Avenue, New York; Powell Street Promenade, San Francisco; Tudela-Culip (Club Med) Restoration Project in 'Cap de Creus' Cape, Cadaqués, Catalonia, Spain; Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Orange, Texas; Winnipeg Skating Shelters, Winnipeg, Manitoba; National 9/11 Memorial, New York; and Sunnylands Center and Gardens, Rancho Mirage, California.
Toronto's Yorkville snagged The Landmark Award.
"While small in size, Yorkville's park has played an important role in the revitalization of the neighborhood since its completion in 1994. The neighbourhood has continued its redevelopment with several new high-rise buildings rising along the edge or near the park. Recently, the park underwent some restoration work, but its original design integrity as a distillation of regional ecology, along with its role as a neighborhood connection point, remain as strong as ever. The park is owned and maintained by the City of Toronto Department of Parks, Forestry and Recreation. The Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area takes an active role in the management and programming of the park."
Read the full stories here and here
Original source: The Daily Commercial News and Construction Record

Marilyn Monroe's curves are admired internationally

Mississauga's Absolute Towers, dubbed the Marilyn Monroe building for their shapely curves, have been recognized by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as the best tall building in the Americans in 2012.
"There have been several curvaceous towers completed in recent years—some using balconies to achieve the free-form edge, and others using the whole façade," wrote juror David Scott. "With Absolute we see the entire building twisting to achieve the organic form, creating a beautiful new landmark for a developing urban area."
Read the whole story here and here 
Original source: Reuters

Bay Adelaide Centre, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Vaughan City Hall among architecture award winners

As you might expect, GTA projects dominated the 2012 Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Awards.

Six of the top 15 projects are located in the GTA and represent some of the region's most high-profile projects and firms. Design Excellence winners include the Bay Adelaide Centre's west tower (WZMH Architects), Lawren Harris House (Drew Mandel Architects), SPLIT House (superkül Inc.), TIFF Bell Lightbox (Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects), Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex (Kongats Architects) and Vaughan City Hall (Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects).
The Ryerson Recreation and Athletics Centre (Lett/Smith Architects) won the Landmark Award.
Read the complete list of winners here
Original Source: Canadian Architect

Spadina design offices play the part of glam law firm on NBC

The Seattle Pi features Toronto design and architectural consulting company Stantec, after the company's downtown studio was selected as the primary site for the new NBC legal drama, The Firm. The Stantec building, located at Spadina Avenue and Wellington, was designed by the company's own architects, interior designers and engineers and was selected for The Firm because of its open-concept design, integration of heritage architecture and innovative use of natural light. 
"Based on the best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham, The Firm stars Josh Lucas as attorney Mitchell McDeere. Stantec’s award-winning studio stands in for the law firm of the title, Kinross & Clark. The Firm airs on NBC and Global Television."
"'Kinross & Clark is not your typical law firm. So the production team valued the unique design elements of Stantec's studio space that make it an ideal work environment for our team,' says Stephen Phillips, Stantec's practice leader for architecture."
"Formerly the McGregor sock factory, the Stantec Toronto studio is located in the historic Garment District at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Wellington Street West. The site is listed as a heritage property within the city core. Originally constructed in 1905, the timber post and beam building offered the perfect opportunity to reclaim, transform and recycle a piece of the city's industrial history. The project is LEED CI Gold certified, underscoring Stantec's commitment to sustainable practice."
read full story here
original source Seattle Pi

Toronto's waterfront called one of world's biggest urban shoreline revitalization efforts

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the Toronto Waterfront redevelopment in a tripartite feature that includes not only an in-depth article on the effort,  but also a slideshow of the many redevelopment projects underway and a video interview with Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell.

Declaring the redevelopment of Toronto's shoreline, "one of the world's biggest waterfront revitalization efforts" the Wall Street Journal looks both at projects still in progress (e.g. the West Donlands) and those projects that have been successfully integrated into the fabric of the city (e.g. the Simcoe Wavedeck).

see full feature here (subscription required)
original source Wall Street Journal 

Travel mag ranks Bayview station among world's 15 most beautiful subway stops

Online travel magazine BootsnAll lists Toronto's Bayview Station as among the "15 most beautiful subway stations in the world."
Opened in 2002 and designed by Stevens Group Architects, Bayview Station is singled out for its high-ceiling entrance pavilions, long-angled roofs and for showcasing wall projections by Toronto artist Panya Clark Espinal.
"Throughout the station, you can see From Here Right Now, a trompe l’oeil installation by Toronto artist Panya Clark Espinal. Her website explains that in From Here Right Now, 'twenty-four hand-drawn images have been 'projected' onto the architecture of the station so that when seen from the original location of projection, the images are crystalized and realistic, but when seen from other locations they appear to be abstractions. These images act as beacons, drawing the viewers along various paths of movement. Depicting everyday objects and simple geometric shapes, the images are rendered in an uncommonly large scale and in unusual orientations, allowing one to interact playfully with them as one moves through the space."

read full story here
original source BootsnAll

Toronto's new Trump hotel recognized for glitz, glam and... restraint

The Toronto Trump Hotel opens its doors this week, further strengthening Toronto's reputation as hotspot for international luxury travel. Located at Bay and Adelaide, the new tower—which stands 65 storeys tall and is topped by an articulated spire—is now Canada’s second tallest structure.
"A three-dimensional cherry blossom branch is mounted behind the reception desk on LED-lit black glass. Rendering courtesy Norm Li AG&I Inc."
"While Trump's signature grandiose style may mark the exterior of the tower, its interior is purposefully restrained (though you'll still find plenty of glitz and glam in the sophisticated hotel's public spaces). Local Toronto design firm II by IV incorporated a 'champagne and caviar' color scheme throughout the hotel and its 18,000 square foot 31st-floor skyline spa (opening soon). Your first glimpse of the design style will be in the street-level lobby, where white semi-precious onyx wall panels imported from Milan add drama, as do the laser-cut gray granite inlays on the floor and the dramatic, smoky beveled mirror hovering overhead. Light boxes displaying diamond necklaces and other jewels accent the space, and a can't-miss-it three-dimensional crystal cherry blossom branch mounted on LED-lit black glass behind the reception desk."
read full story here
original source Forbes

'New wave' of Canadian fashion brands looking to build a worldwide presence

The Financial Times writes on the the international scope of Canadian fashion, as handful of Canada's most talented designer expand their brands south of the border and across the ocean. Joe Fresh, Artizia, Canada Goose and M0851 are among the top Canadian brands currently creating a vibrant international presence.
"Canada has many assets—commodities, natural resources, space, poutines—but most people would not count fashion among them. Indeed, despite the fact that it is in better economic shape than most developed western nations, Canada is rarely mentioned when brand discussions turn to potential growth markets."
"Yet this spring an 18,000-square-foot gauntlet is being thrown down on Fifth Avenue in New York courtesy of Joe Mimran, the Casablanca-born/Toronto-raised entrepreneur behind Joe Fresh, a low-priced men's and women's line of colourful separates and outerwear. It is just the beginning of what will turn into a tide of nearly a half dozen fashion brands from the north arriving or expanding south of the border before turning their sights across the ocean."
"Yes, the Canadians are coming. And no, it's not all lumberjack shirts and ice hockey jerseys. Their arrival marks a sense of maturity for retailers on both sides of the border. A decade ago, Canadian brands entering the US had a 20 per cent success rate, according to Wendy Evans, president of Toronto-based Evans & Company Retail Consultants. 'But today’s companies are far more confident and smarter at competing against American retailers,' she adds. With the American retail landscape stuck in a downturn—and Canadian companies armed with cash—the time is now right to put this knowledge to use."
"'Despite the current economic difficulties, American consumers remain hungry for something new,' says Mimran. 'With fewer new players entering the market it's actually easier to pierce consumer consciousness.' Especially when your currency is at record highs and US commercial real estate remains relatively inexpensive. Of course, with brands such as Club Monaco (which Mimran founded in 1985 and sold to Ralph Lauren in 1999) and Roots operating in the US for nearly two decades, Canadian fashion is hardly new to Americans. What is new, however, is the range of the current Canadian offering, its positioning and price."

read full story here
original source Financial Times

True North strong: Canadian designers unite at Toronto Fashion Week

Toronto's LG Fashion Week—the five-day long biannual fashion event—has wrapped-up to unprecedented numbers. As reported by the Globe And Mail, the new centrally located venue in the city’s David Pecaut Square, and the convergence of the shows around the theme "Canadian Cool" are among the factors that made this latest edition such a standout success. 
"After 11 years of searching for a sense of unity, the event, as spearheaded by Fashion Design Council of Canada president Robin Kay in consultation with global event producer IMG, has finally found it."
"The theme was 'Canada Cool' and the coolest thing about Fashion Week this season was its ability to bring together diverse interests and constituents from across the country: young and old, French and English, commercially oriented and flagrantly artistic."
"Established industry veterans like Montreal's Marie Saint-Pierre and Toronto's David Dixon presented alongside rookies such as 23-year-old Calgary native Caitlin Powers, 27-year-old Golnaz Ashtiani (winner of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels competition this year), 23-year-old Albertan Sid Neigum and 21-year-old Adrian Wu from Burlington, Ont."
"'I think there's a Canadian fashion history and I'm honoured to be part of it,' Wu said backstage at his show, which featured fantastical gowns inspired by quantum physics and the French Enlightenment."
“Canadian fashion is hugely underrated, but there's so much talent here."
read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

New York Times on Roncesvalles Village

The New York Times Travel section gives Toronto's Roncesvalles Village a rave review. Describing the area "a hub of local design and casual-hip dining," the article profiles five of Roncesvalles' most innovative small business owners.

"In the Roncesvalles Village area of Toronto, shop windows still trumpet 'godziny otwarcia'—Polish for 'opening hours.' 

"But as young, creative types have snapped up homes, this west-end Polish enclave has morphed into a hub of local design and casual-hip dining. After a multiyear neighborhood reconstruction project that temporarily cut streetcar service and starved merchants, Roncesvalles Avenue—the area's main artery—is thrumming again. Despite their big-city location, the street's indie bookstores, quirky coffeehouses and smart boutiques feel more like small-town hangouts, with stroller-pushing locals popping in to chat up proprietors."

read full story here
original source New York Times

Toronto park makes Atlantic's list of world's best projects under overpasses

Toronto's Underpass Park--a 2.5-acre park now in construction under the city's Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide overpasses--has topped the The Atlantic magazine's list of the world's "9 Cool Projects Under Freeway Overpasses." When complete, Underpass Park will transform a derelict and neglected space into a bright, multi-use pedestrian thoroughfare. 

"Elevated freeways slice through cities all over the world. At their best, they make getting into and around cities incredibly easy; at their worst, they segregate and isolate communities. Somewhere in between those two poles is a ton of potential. The spaces beneath those overpasses are often underutilized--or utilized in ways illegal or undesirable. Cities are beginning to take advantage of these dead spaces as usable parts of the public realm. These projects highlight some of the ways cities and communities are taking advantage of the space beneath freeways."
"The most notable development in this trend is Underpass Park, a new 2.5-acre public park now under construction in Toronto. The park re-uses the dead space beneath and around two freeway overpasses near the city’s downtown and right next to the Don River."

read full story here
original source The Atlantic
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