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Local design firm's futuristic sauna draws international ooh's, ah's

The design community can't get enough of Grotto, a unique sauna designed by the small, experimental Toronto firm, Partisans, and perched on water's edge at a private island on the Georgan Bay. The outside is minimalistic and sharp, while the inside curves and winds with an almost otherwordly mien.  

Wallpaper magazine writes: 
The contrast was entirely by design. The dramatic, precarious exterior was built from familiar, vernacular materials. 'Then you move inside, which is visceral, warm, and sculptural,' says Josephson. 'We wanted to design a building that would transport the visitor into another world... like a grotto. The clients told us that each time they enter it, it’s almost as if they’re rediscovering the space for the first time.'

The partners crowd-sourced the initial proposal, calling on the entire office to present ideas in a process he calls 'design-play'. Given a shortlist of four ideas, the client selected this most conceptual version, which propelled the designers into a partnership with a Toronto-based millwork company called MCM and a quest for the most advanced 3D technology for modelling and building the interior.

The stunning edifice is a sharp compliment to the view it offers, which National Geographic has proclaimed among the world's top sunset vantage points. Not too shabby, indeed. 

Read the full article here. 
Source: Wallpaper Magazine

New York Times shouts out Toronto's housing market

Housing affordability is on the verge of full-out crisis in Toronto, but that's of little concern to the New York Times

The tony publication accurately pointed out this week that, for deep-pocketed investors, Toronto's real estate market is worth a trip across the border. 

The article explains that a lack of inventory in the Greater Toronto Area has driven the price of an average detached single-family home significantly over the past decade, leading to a predicted 3.6 percent increase to 870,000 Canadian dollars, or about $766,000, by 2015.

The report continues: 
The Toronto Real Estate Board reported in October that the average number of days on the market for houses this year was down to 25 from 27 in 2013, and brokers report that houses regularly sell for more than asking price.

Demand for homes in downtown Toronto has never been higher, with neighborhoods like Rosedale, Forest Hill, Trinity-Bellwoods, West Queen West and Yorkville having grown exceedingly popular, said Paul Johnston, a real estate agent with Right at Home Realty in Toronto.

Bad news for almost everyone in the city itself but, hey, at least we made the Times. 

Read the full article here.
Source: New York Times
Photo: rfzappala via Compfight cc

Rubicon Project buys Toronto's Shiny Ads

Advertising automation giant Rubicon has picked up the Toronto start-up, Shiny Ads, along with San Francisco-based iSocket, for the combined tune of just under $30 Million USD. 

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Rubicon Project has built its business offering complicated online ad systems that offer marketers and publishers the ability to buy and sell advertising in real-time auctions. This is often referred to as real-time bidding or “RTB.”
Technology provided by iSocket and Shiny Ads helps power a different type of sale, however, often referred to as “automated guaranteed” or “programmatic guaranteed.” Their technologies enable marketers to buy ad space from publishers on an upfront basis, without the hassle of picking up the phone or emailing their order to the ad seller.

Shiny Ads' website describes the company a provider of "end-to-end programmatic direct advertising platform for digital publishers to sell more premium inventory for increased revenues and profits. By automating the process for advertisers of all sizes, Shiny Ads allows the direct sales team to focus on more complex ad buys and close more deals."

Read the full story here. 
Source: The Wall Street Journal


Toronto panda frolics adorably in the snow (for an international audience)

This week's wintery conditions brought travel delays and early do-we-or-don't-we? shovelling dilemmas. But they also brought along this lovely – nay, adorable – treat, broadcast by the venerable Washington Post itself: video of Da Mao, one of the Toronto Zoo's two giant pandas, playing in the cold white fluff.

The video isn't just a feel-good reminder of the cuteness our world has to offer, though. The Toronto Zoo is one of only six in North America to currently claim the winsome bamboo chomping east Asian bears among its menagerie. As it happens, one of the other six zoos is located in Washington D.C.

Catch the full video here. 
Source: Washington Post

Does Toronto have better food than New York?

Toronto's “multicultural snacking and molecular cocktail” scene got love from influential alt weekly The Village Voice last week. It shouldn't be a huge surprise; the city's diverse and eclectic neighbourhoods have drawn plenty of international attention in the past.

King and Queen Streets West get a shoutout, as do a number of Kensington Market hotspots including Italian-Jamaican fusion joint Rasta Pasta, taqueria Seven Lives, and people-watching patio, Ronnie's. As the article states, “Ontario's capital is anything but provincial.” We couldn't agree more.

Read the full article here.
Source: The Village Voice.  

A University of Toronto study might be the answer to a Kentucky town's fungus

Kentucky whiskey distilleries are behind a nasty "whiskey fungus" that's covering houses, cars, and street signs in the Louisville suburb of Shively, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage.

Munchies reports:

For years, the residents of Shively took this black soot as a given. They didn’t know it was a preventable fungus caused by the nearby whiskey distilleries and they didn’t make much of a fuss about it. It was just another neighborhood complaint that wasn’t getting addressed by the local councilmen.
That changed in 2007, when University of Toronto mycologist James Scott published an academic paper about the fungus, which got attention not only for re-naming and re-classifying it based on DNA analysis, but also for pinning it on the whiskey industry. Dr. Scott discovered that this fungus—which he named Baudoinia, after the man who first studied it in 1872, Anton Baudoin—feeds on the ethanol vapor released by liquor as it ages. (Not surprisingly, you’ll find Baudoinia near scotch, brandy, and rum distilleries as well, since they also off-gas ethanol.) 

Scott's findings have led to a class-action lawsuit filed against the three major distilleries in the area – and possibly, as the piece points out, the booze industry's answer to the Erin Brokovich story

Read the full story here
Source: Munchies


Good news for bad guts

A local biotech startup, Encycle Therapeutics, is the recipient of a generous grant to further research its development of an oral treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD--the first of its kind.

Encycle was founded by Dr. Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, who are working from a $4 million public-private funding partnership with Merck Canada. 

As Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, told Drug Discovery and Development: "Encycle Therapeutics has spent the last 18 months demonstrating the significant potential of its innovative macrocyle chemistry platform to generate small-cell permeable systems. This achievement has resulted in multiple partnership opportunities, affirming its position as one of Canada's emerging biotechnology companies to watch."

Read more here.
Source: Drug Discovery and Development magazine

Parapan Am Games set to "leave a legacy"

Chefs de Mission from 27 National Paralympic Committees were in Toronto last week for a final meeting in anticipation of August's Parapan Am Games. As the event's Chief Executive Officer of TO2015, Saäd Rafi, told the German-based International Paralympic Committee, the games are poised to "leave a legacy in the Americas." 

The Toronto-hosted Games are set to be history-making, thanks to a few key additions. Among these: a National Paralympic Committee support grant developed to help cover travel costs to and from the Games, and a Parapan American Development Programme to build capacity in sport management, coaching, and developing the capacity of physically and visually impaired  athletes. 

“We continue to be impressed by the preparations for the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games and the efforts by Canada to create a real legacy from these Games that benefits the entire region of the Americas,” said American Paralympic Committee President Jose Luis Campo.

Among the 15 sports included in the Games will be archery, judo, powerlifiting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball.

Source: International Paralympic Committee

Toronto-based SIM card launch makes waves

Following a crowdfunded production campaign, local startup KnowRoaming has made its product available for purchase. Already, techies and travellers have taken note. 

The reason for the fanfare: KnowRoaming promises to reduce pricey mobile roaming charges. It's an exciting prospect, even for mobile customers not subject to Canada's astronomical fees. 

The company's sticker SIMs get placed onto a phone's regular SIM, which then lie dormant until a person leaves their home network. At that point, the sticker enables the SIM card to pick up whatever happens to be the local network. Once a sticker kit has been purchased directly from the company's website and installed onto a phone, users can buy credits through an accompanying Android, iOS or web app to reap their savings. 

As the Globe and Mail reported earlier this year, KnowRoaming isn't an entirely novel concept; it essentially offers to step in as a low-hassle roaming provider. But it might just stick.

Source: Engadget

Calling Elizabeth Gallaghers

A Toronto man, Jordan Axani, bought a pair of discounted round-the-world plane tickets with his girlfriend and then they broke up. Now, Axani is looking for a woman – any woman – who shares her name: Elizabeth Gallagher. 

The story made international headlines after Axani crowdsourced for Elizabeth Gallaghers on the popular social messaging board, reddit. 

As quoted, by CNN, from Axani's original post:

"I am not looking for anything in return. I am not looking for companionship, romance, drugs, a trade, or to take selfies with you in front of the Christmas Market in Prague. If you feel compelled to toss me a couple hundred bucks, great. Really the only thing I ask for is that you enjoy this trip and that it bring you happiness."

He has since received thousands of emails from around the world. 

Source: CNN

Lonely Planet names Toronto one of its top 10 cities for 2015

Travel guide gurus Lonely Planet have anointed Toronto among the world's Top 10 Cities to visit in 2015.

"Two North American metropolises on the well-beaten path bracket Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities list for 2015, one of an annual variety of best-of and trend-spotting rankings announced this week by the travel publisher, which also compiled them into the Best in 2015 book and travel planner," reports the San Francisco Gate.
Toronto comes in at number 10 as Canada's answer to New York City, a "multicultural megalopolis" as described in Lonely Planet's ranking, which also gives a nod to the city's restaurant scene, shopping options, and attractions like the Toronto Islands. But the projected tourism spike and infrastructure advancements associated with July's Pan American Games certainly lend the city additional lustre. 

Lonely Planet writes: "A bunch of public works projects have advanced in preparation for the C $1.5billion international multisport games, including the long-anticipated Union Pearson Express train, which will whizz passengers from the airport to downtown in 25 minutes, making it easier than ever to sink one's teeth into the culinary and cultural delights of Toronto's diverse enclaves."

And there you have it. 
Read the full story here.
Source: SFGate; Lonely Planet.

Toronto's iconic Fairmont Royal York Hotel sold

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel has a new set of owners.

This week, InVest and KingSett Real Estate Growth LP partnered to buy an 80 percent share of the iconic downtown hotel for C$186.5million, leaving the remaining 20 percent to be held by current owners Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc. The news comes amidst a massive renovation initiative expected to be completed by the end of January 2015.

Bloomberg reports that the hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1929 across from Toronto's Union Station with the intent of becoming the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth.

In a statement published by Market Business News, Managing Director of InnVest, Ed Pitoniak, said:

"We are delighted to partner with KingSett and Ivanhoé Cambridge on what we believe is one of Canada's most prestigious hotel properties. We are also looking forward to extending our relationship with Fairmont.With the nearing completion of the Union Station enhancements, as well as the introduction of the Pearson Airport Rail Link, theFairmont Royal York's location places it at the commercial,cultural and transportation crossroads of Toronto."

Read the whole story here.

Source: Bloomberg.  


Scenes from a post-apocalyptic Toronto

It turns out that a post-apocalyptic Toronto might just be a beautiful thing to behold. At least, it would be through the eyes of sci-fi author Jim Munroe.

The writer has teamed up with artists Matthew Borrett, Terry Lau and Sanford Kong to create images of a gorgeously grim future Toronto, which will be featured in a calendar given out to contributors to Munroe's latest crowdfunded story series. The resulting vignettes are both haunting and surreal: A collapsed CN Tower puffs black smoke over the Gardiner Expressway in one, while vinelike spider legs wind around downtown cityscapes in others.

io9 reports:

"Those of you familiar with Munroe's work may recognize a lot of these scenes from his last film, Ghostswith Shit Jobs,which features a segment about what happens to Toronto after the cityis invaded by giant spiders and its local internet cloud goes into foreclosure."

Giant spiders might be less-than-ideal, but even as an imagined dystopia, Toronto manages to look world-class. 

Read the full story here. 
Source: io9.

Kensington's rich "patina" a reflection of its history

Kensington Market is a unique neighbourhood in Toronto revered by locals and tourists alike. Known for its garden car, graffiti and murals, the unique shops, and the hippy vibe, these eccentricities continue to inspire people around the world to tell its story.

"At its peak, the area was home to 60,000 Jews, worshipping in 60 synagogues. But when they moved on - only two synagogues remain - their place was taken in turn by Italians, Portuguese-speaking exiles from the Azores, West Indians, Koreans, Vietnamese and Latin Americans," wrote the Sydney Morning Herald.
"As each nationality became more affluent and moved on, they left behind a layer in the rich patina that coats Kensington Market."
In its profile on the neighbourhood, the Sydney Morning Herald points out that the market is only a short walk from downtown's staple, the CN Tower.
"Locals know it as the place to head to for superb produce, a tasty, inexpensive meal, or just somewhere to hang out and people-watch on a sunny Sunday afternoon," the article continues.
Toronto's street art has been getting a lot of attention lately. It was part of the reason West Queen West was recently named the second hippest neighbourhood in the world by Vogue, and now its cited as one of Kensington Market's must sees. 
"Yet although Kensington Market was the first Toronto neighbourhood to be declared one of Canada's national historic sites in 2006, it is constantly changing. These days, one of the market's drawcards is that it has some of the best street art in the city, with mural-sized work by recognised graffiti artists."
Read the full story here
Original Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Toronto to get an elevated park

"The need to retain public spaces in our cities as they develop and grow requires increasingly ingenuitive thinking. A new development in Toronto shows just that sort of thinking in action," writes Gizmag about Toronto's soon-to-be-developed new green space hovering above the train tracks down near Union Station. 

The park, which will be located at 45-141 Bay Street between two buildings, is the work of real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge for Metrolinx and is "part of the ongoing development of Union Station. The plans include the addition of a new bus terminal, two office buildings to be constructed standing either side of the rail corridor, and the park area between the buildings," the article says. 

The park will not only connect the buildings, which are designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, but will provide the city with a public space "for recreation and leisure" while also connecting them to the underground PATH. 

Another article in Bloomberg provides additional context. That article reports that the 2.7 million square foot office complex will cost around $2 billion, with construction set to begin in spring of 2015. 

Read the full story here
Original Source: Gizmag
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