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Two Toronto companies among finalists at SXSW Accelerator wearable tech competition

Two Toronto companies were announced among the finalists in the 2014 SXSW Accelerator pitch competition's wearable technologies category this past weekend.

South by Southwest, an annual music festival and technology conference that takes place in Austin, Texas, saw 500 web-based companies apply for a chance to showcase their products to at Startup Village in several different categories. 
 
Up first was Bionym, a company that launched its debut product the Nymi in September of last year. Nymi is a wearable identification wristband device that authenticates users through their heartbeat. 
 
"Identity is hard," the presenter is reported as saying in an article that appeared on livescience, but "what if you could make identity easy?"
 
Later, Kiwi Wearable Technologies took the stage to present their "Kiwi Move," a tracking device that "the company says will contain motion sensors, temperature and air pressure sensors, a microphone, and Wi-FI and Bluetooth capabilities," the article says. 
 
Although the top award did not go to one of these startups (Silicon Valley startup Skully Helmets won for its augmented reality motorcycle helmet), having two Toronto companies in the wearable tech sphere make it into the finals further solidifies our leading place in this field internationally.
 
Read the full article here
Original Source: livescience

3D printers come to Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library has announced plans to bring a variety of 3D printers and related software to its Digital Innovation Hubs, which will open at the Toronto Reference Library and the forthcoming Fort York branch in the coming weeks. 
 
The Digital Innovation Hub will launch with a collection of iMacs, MacBook pros, video and audio editing software in an effort make technology more accessible for TPL users. 
 
"One of the things that the library has been doing is trying to equalize people's access to information and knowledge," Paul Trumphour, access and information manager at Toronto Public Libraries, told Global News.
 
"We became a kind of community hub for people to come in and get access to decent Internet for free. A few years ago we introduced access to Microsoft Office on pretty much all of our workstations. One of our goals is to bring awareness that this type of technology exists and how it can be used."

Library-goers will have access to seminars and workshops to learn more about the 3D printing process, as well as the ability to scan and print objects.
 
The library eventually hopes to partner with local maker spaces, community centres that focus on using and participating in technology and workshops, to "introduce mode advanced programming."
 
Read the full story here
Original Source: Global News

Daniels Spectrum named best new venue for meetings and events: Canada

Daniels Spectrum has been named the best new venue for meetings and events in Canada, according to the first National BizBash Event Style Awards.
 
The winners of the inaugural awards were announced last Wednesday at the BizBash IdeaFest in New York. The awards honour "the best ideas, strategies, products and venues across North America" and are given to "entries that demonstrated innovation, quality of execution, effectiveness, and an influential impact on the event and meeting industry."
 
Located in Regent Park, Daniels Spectrum is a cultural hub and features office and event space, community programming, meeting rooms, and various other amenities. 
 
Here's what BizBash said about Daniels Spectrum.
 
Located in downtown Toronto’s Regent Park redevelopment, Daniels Spectrum was designed by Diamond & Schmitt Architects and has a mandate to support culturally diverse and inclusive events. The colorful facility features a fully equipped main hall with a 300-seat retractable bleacher system and two retractable walls, an outdoor stage, and a lounge for smaller performances, meetings, and receptions.
 
View the full slideshow featuring all the winners here
Original Source: BizBash

Toronto again named one of the world's smartest communities

For the second year in a row, the Intelligent Communities Forum (ICF) has named Toronto as one of the world's 21 smartest communities. ICF looks at communities around the world and grades them based on how broadband infrastructure and IT builds economies and improves the lives of local citizens. 
 
The list will be whittled down to seven finalists to be announced in January. The winner will be announced on June 6, 2014 at a ceremony in New York City.
 
Toronto secured a spot in the top seven last year, but it was Taichung, Taiwan that came out on top. 
 
"One of the major reasons for Toronto’s claim to the title is because of Waterfront Toronto, which has launched several intelligent community programs," said an article that ran on itbusiness.ca. The article cites Waterfront's various accomplishments including building a cloud-based community platform that allows businesses and residents access to data "they can use it to make decisions about daily commutes, residents' health, energy, and water use."
 
In addition to Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto also named digital programs such as Kids@Computers and Connected For Success, as well as the Centre for Social Innovation and the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University in its application. 
 
Read the full story here
Original Source: IT Business
 

Apply to speak at Toronto's first TEDxWomen event

Speaker applications are now open for women interested in channeling "the bootstrap spirit of Silicon Valley to celebrate invention in all its forms." The event is the first of its kind, designed to "provide a platform or women to share ideas, inspired new modes of understanding and be a catalyst of change," the website says.
 
The conference will focus not just on technology and objects, but "also solutions to poverty; approaches to peacemaking; expressions of art, and, at times, our own lives." More then 150 independently organized TEDx events will take place simultaneously exploring the theme of "Invented Here." 
 
"The result: A truly global conversation—from San Francisco to São Paulo to Toronto's Distillery District—celebrating inventors and designers; thinkers and makers; local problem-solvers and global leaders."
 
The event will be held on December 5th, 2013 and the deadline to apply to be a speakers is October 15th, 2013.
 
For more information, click here
Source: TEDxDistilleryDistrictWomen
 

Local typewriter collector earns international attention

"Some people collect baseball cards and others collect coins. Martin Howard, however, collects century-old typewriters," writes Gizmodo Australia, which ran a story on the Torontonian's extensive collection. It features typewriters that look like "navigation instruments" and others that "look like scales."
 
The article selects a few from the collection that it deems the most beautiful. Of them is the Crandall – New Model from 1887, which resembles a sewing machine. It features decorative flower designs with gold accents, detailed by 28 keys that support 84 characters.
 
Another, the Lambert 1 from 1902, resembles a rotary dial phone. It's "ideal for the one-finger typist," the article writes. 
 
"The Martin Howard Collection includes dozens of rare and historically significant typewriters. It’s the largest of its kind in Canada and continues to grow as its owner comes across new pieces. While the typewriters sometimes travel for exhibitions, you can always see the whole collection on Howard’s website, and if you really want to you can probably buy them," Gizmodo reports.
 
Read the full story and check out Gizmodo's favourites here. Or, if you desire, view the entire Martin Howard collection on his website here
Original source: Gizmodo 

University of Toronto among top 20 universities in the world

The University of Toronto has ranked in the top 20 universities in the world for the second year in a row, climbing two spots from last year to tie with the University of Edinburg for 17th place. QS World Universities ranks international universities annually to determine the top educational institutions in the world.
 
"The University of Toronto has assembled one of the strongest research and teaching faculties in North America, presenting top students at all levels with an intellectual environment unmatched in breadth and depth on any other Canadian campus," says QS, directly quoting the University's profile. 
 
"U of T faculty co-author more research articles than their colleagues at any university in the U.S. or Canada other than Harvard. As a measure of impact, U of T consistently ranks alongside the top five U.S. universities whose discoveries are most often cited by other researchers around the world."
 
The University ranked with an overall score of 91.30 out of a possible 100. However, the school ranked 13th overall based on Academic reputation, which earned a score of 99.90. The University has been climbing steadily since 2007, when it was ranked 45th out of 100. This number climbed to 23rd by 2011, and broke the top 20 in 2012. 
 
Here is a list of the top 20 overall out of 100 for 2013/2014:
 
1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
2) Harvard University
3) University of Cambridge
4) UCL (University College London)
5) Imperial College London
6) University of Oxford
7) Stanford University
8) Yale University
9) University of Chicago
10 = California institute of Technology (CALTECH)
10 = Princeton University
12) Eth Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
13) University of Pennsylvania
14) Columbia University
15) Cornell University
16) Johns Hopkins University
17 = University of Edinburgh
17 = University of Toronto
19) Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL)
19) King's College London (KCL)
 
McGill University in Montreal was not too far behind, with an overall ranking of 21. The University of British Columbia ranked 49th, the Université de Montréal ranked 92nd, and the University of Alberta ranked 96th.
 
Read the full list here
Original source: The Independent

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

The New York Times on house hunting in Toronto

The New York Times writes on Toronto's "robust" real-estate market. The Toronto housing market--fuelled equally by long-standing Canadians and new immigrants--has, unlike many other major cities, managed to survive and grow despite the global economic downturn.
 
"Toronto's housing market is robust. 'People are investing here,' says Paul Dineen, a lawyer with the Toronto law firm Chapnick & Assoc. 'They see it's a good parking place.' The population is expected to increase by 1 million over the next 30 years, providing an ever-larger pool of prospective buyers. Mr. Dineen said that because the housing market hadn't been overpriced before the global downturn, Canada weathered the crisis when other countries had more difficulty. 'All it was here was a speed bump,' Mr. Robert said. 'The market took a deep breath for maybe four months, but then recorrected itself. We're just steaming ahead, moving forward.'"
 
"Buyers here include new immigrants, especially those from China, Hong Kong, India and Iran, as well as Canadians whose lineage goes back many generations. The city is attractive to many foreigners because it is considered safe, family friendly and multicultural."

read full story here
original source New York Times


The Huffington Post on TIFF & Toronto

The Huffington Post writes on why TIFF is "the best film festival in the world" and why "lively" Toronto is the perfect host city. Toronto is lauded for, among other things, its cultural diversity, fine dining and exciting tourist attractions.  
 
"Anyone connected to the film industry will tell you that the Toronto International Film Festival is the best film festival in the world. What they fail to mention is that it's also the perfect attraction for a lively vacation."
 
"TIFF leads the pack for three key reasons. First, selection: Their programmers present the world's best films. Second, timing: Distribution companies release Oscar-caliber films in the fall for awards consideration. Third, location: The 36-year-old, public-friendly festival infuses the entire multicultural city with verve for 10 exciting days every September. If you love urban meccas, lively tourist sites, fine dining and top-notch movies, too, TIFF gives you a good reason to visit Toronto."
 
read full story here
original source Huffington Post
 


Evolution of the Entertainment District

The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume writes on the legacy of the Bell Lightbox, the 2-year old TIFF headquarters that's transforming Toronto's downtown.

"There’s no need to shed any tears for Yorkville just yet. Though it lost much of the film festival when TIFF moved downtown last year, it can still count on the enduring power of vanity to keep its wheels turning. And if the ’70s ever become fashionable again, the old Village will be the place to be."

"Meanwhile, down at King and John, the Bell Lightbox, TIFF’s elegant new funhouse, continues to change the face of the downtown neighbourhood. It’s not that Yorkville — or at least, the larger Yorkville area, including the Royal Ontario and Gardiner museums and the Royal Conservatory — is any less a cultural hub, but some of that energy has shifted south."

"The city also provides a study in the domino effect, how one change leads inexorably to another. TIFF is a catalyst as well as a result. And as the area draws ever closer to critical mass, it becomes a self-sustaining mix of culture, entertainment, commercial, corporate and domestic forces."

"That’s why the neighbourhood is no longer simply an Entertainment District, a Financial District or any other such designated enclave. It now incorporates elements of both. In that sense, it belongs to everyone."

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original source Toronto Star

The New York Times reviews the Thompson Toronto

The Thompson Toronto, Toronto's newest luxury hotel, has received a rave review in the New York Times Travel Section. The hotel, described "as sleek [and] modern with a cosmopolitan appeal", is applauded for its "happening" location (on Wellington just south of King), its many amenities (including a spectacular wraparound rooftop patio), and its formal and efficient service.

"The aesthetic at the 102-room Thompson Toronto, opened in June 2010, is retro-modern, and the rooftop pool is a party spot in its own right, complete with bouncers and guest lists. The hotel has a branch of Scarpetta, the New York chef Scott Conant's modern Italian restaurant; a lobby bar that serves cocktails with ingredients like elderflower and Campari; and a 40-seat screening room (sure to get some use during the Toronto International Film Festival). Construction has begun on an adjacent Thompson residence tower. "

"The Thompson is a sleek, modern hotel with a cosmopolitan appeal, particularly for those whose trip includes a bit of see-and-be-seen. With rooms starting at 250 Canadian dollars, about the same in U.S. dollars, it's an easy way to buy into the jet set."

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original source New York Times




Why Toronto has emerged as a global centre of mascot costume-making

Toronto is home to over half-a-dozen successful mascot companies, the largest concentration of mascot companies in the world. A Macleans feature looks at how Toronto became the global leader in this niche, but highly profitable, industry.

"Toronto is the mascot mecca of the world," says Christina Simmons, president of Loonie Times Inc., one of the half-dozen mascot companies in the city."

"Why Toronto? "I think we just put more TLC into them," says Simmons. Unlike mass-produced mascots made overseas, Toronto's mascots are conceived by bona-fide artisans. Take Sugar's Costumes Studio, founded in 1980 by Peter deVinta, an Italian immigrant who comes from a long line of tailors. (His father, Joseph, now 91, was a master tailor in Italy who worked for top military generals.) A medium-sized firm, Sugar's makes upwards of 400 mascots a year. Some are famous, like the Blue Jays' Ace, and others obscure, like the Calvary Chapel's California Nuts for Jesus: PJ, Al, Wally and Hazel. DeVita just shipped Nahkool, a date palm tree and mascot of a town in Bahrain."

"The companies hire from nearby schools, like OCAD University and Seneca College, who pump out sculptors, designers and sewers. "When you're making a custom character like the Honey Nut Bee, you need a fashion design graduate so they can do the pattern drafting and do the math to look like the design," says Mike Chudleigh, president of 1-800-Mascots, another local firm."

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original source Macleans

Toronto -- distilled to its essence

The Miami Herald encourages its readers to visit Toronto's Distillery District. The former industrial site turned car-free arts center is lauded for its historic architecture, appetizing restaurants, and its concentration of stunning galleries and sculptures.

"This is a safe, clean, comfortable city. Its eclectic streets and scenic avenues appeal to your inner walker, and few parts are better to explore on foot than the automobile-free, pedestrian-friendly Distillery District.Just off Lake Ontario, with the CN tower and a collage of skyscrapers hovering above, this former industrial area melds the corporate and cultural in a historic setting. Walking through the Mill Street entrance, you'll immediately get the picture, as did virtually everyone I encountered, by either posing for a camera, or employing one, sensing the significance of it all."

"By 2001, the distillery had become mainly rubble when Matthew Rosenblatt and Cityscape, collaborating with Dundee Real Estate Development, began to re-create the area into something that people, a local or a tourist, would return to, Rosenblatt says."

"Viewing business as art, and intent on establishing a neighborhood where you "get a sense of the city's culture," Rosenblatt and his cohorts have taken 44 buildings, the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America, and incorporated business, retail and artist spaces into a setting that exudes small-town charm. Walking these streets is akin to visiting an amusement park, and not having to pay for the rides, as the visual feast is entertainment enough."

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original source Miami Herald

TOJam brings out local gaming luminaries

The Grid reports on Toronto's annual ToJam competition, a contest that has participants design videogames from scratch in only one weekend. The game-design marathon, now in its sixth year, attracts over 200 participants and brings together the best of Toronto's burgeoning software design scene.

"The premise of TOJam is that a bunch of people—over 200 this time, but fewer in previous iterations—bring their computers to a George Brown College building near King and Sherbourne on a Friday. The goal, by Sunday night, is for everyone to have created a complete video game from scratch—and that means art, music, code, and all."

"Anyone who's ever taken a course in computer science knows that a single weekend isn't enough time to make something as complex as a game. Even attempting to adhere to that sort of timetable would be a little insane. And yet, TOJam attendees keep finding ways; this was the annual event's sixth year."

"People continue to come out partly because the pressure-cooker environment sometimes yields brilliance, and also because of the networking opportunities. This year's guest list included a Superbrother; other local gaming luminaries have been known to participate.
Keeping things simple makes achieving that ridiculous deadline easier. But Bethke and his five teammates (his Golden Gear Games business partner Andrew Traviss, plus four graphic artists) weren't even doing that. Their game was going to be a feature-rich platformer with an elaborate back-story."

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original source The Grid

New CN Tower attraction offers a walk on the outside

The CN Tower has announced the launch of EdgeWalk, its newest attraction that lets visitors walk hands-free along the outside of the tower's main pod - 116-storeys-up. Opening August 1, EdgeWalk participants will get a magnificent panoramic view of the city while attached to an overhead harness and guided, by trained guides, around the 150 meter platform.

"Trained guides will encourage visitors to push their personal limits, allowing those who dare to lean back over Toronto, with nothing but air beneath them," said a news release."

"During our 35th anniversary year we are excited to introduce visitors to the most exciting attraction in our history," said Jack Robinson, chief operating officer of Canada Lands Company, which owns the tower."

"Still under construction, the steel grated platform will be supported by 36 arms linked to separate rails for the tour guide and group of walkers. The support arms can be seen as a series of rods protruding from the roof of the 360 Restaurant.The walk will cost $175, which includes a video of the experience, taken by the guide. Tickets go on sale June 1. The attraction will be offered until October this year and reopen in May 2012."

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original source Toronto Star

Bike buff testimonials: Why we bought into Bixi

This week Toronto officially launches Bixi, the city-wide bike-sharing program. The Toronto Star profiles four "Bixi believers", the Torontonians  who will be the first to take advantage of the more than 1,000 bikes at 80 locations now available to cyclists across the city.

"They are the believers -- the bicyclists that believe a bike-sharing program will work in Toronto, in spite of the city's lack of physically separated bike lanes and a relatively small launch area. The program has worked in other cities, after all."

"Protti, 29, and Watts, 28, like to keep things portable -- no mortgage, no car, no bikes to squeeze into their rented apartment. She's Italian, he's from Australia. By the time they arrived here two years ago, the couple had already lived in Vancouver and Montreal. They have tried Bixi in Melbourne and Montreal and signed up here as soon as the snow melted.Both expect to use Bixi every day, even though they will have to walk or take transit to the nearest bike station from their home near Bloor and Christie."

"In Montreal, where there is a network of physically separated bike lanes, Bixi works like a dream, said Protti."

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original source Toronto Star

Behind the scenes of Pinewood Toronto Studios

Torontoist goes behind the scenes of Toronto's Pinewood Studios, Commissioners Street's 11-acre film and television production facility. With seven soundstages and a giant warehouse on site, Pinewood provides a combined 250,000 square feet of studio space making it "one of the most comprehensive purpose-built film facilities in the world."

"Getting behind the gates of Pinewood Toronto Studios is kind of exactly like securing a golden admission ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Except instead of chocolate waterfalls, everlasting gobstoppers, and jolly, ginger-skinned Oompa-Loompas, Pinewood has well-maintained offices, an impressive ventilation system, and a muddy old berm out back. And a whole lot of movie studio space. Like, huge expanses of it."

"Granted, Pinewood Toronto's 11-acre facility in the Port Lands (near Commissioners Street and the Don Roadway) may not appear to be suffused with "movie magic"—especially if your only frames of reference for what a movie studio is are the scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure when our bike-riding hero giddily baits a low-speed pursuit through the Warner Bros. lot and a bunch of Animaniacs cartoons. But though its facade may be a little plain, evoking little of the Hollywood "Dream Machine" or whatever, in the past three years alone, Pinewood has gained a reputation as a go-to destination for film and television productions in Toronto."

"Since opening in 2008, the studios have provided space for plenty of Canadian film and TV productions (CBC's Battle of the Blades, Atom Egoyan's Chloe). They've also done something even more exceptional: attract big-time Hollywood bucks. Since 2008, larger-budgeted shoots like the forthcoming prequel/remake of John Carpenter's The Thing (also called The Thing) and last summer's hometown would-be blockbuster Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) setting up shop at Pinewood. And with Pinewood currently hosting the most expensive production to ever come to Toronto (we were asked not to name the film, even though it's already been announced elsewhere), we finagled our way behind the scenes of the studio that's reinvigorating Toronto's film industry."

"Toronto has historically been a very successful film and television production centre, but it hasn't had a facility like this," notes Edith Myers, managing director of Pinewood Toronto Studios. "[Toronto] has very good facilities and a lot of people put a lot of money into the industry. But this facility is designed to attract a certain type of film that had come infrequently to Toronto. Our biggest selling tool is to show people what we've got here." And what Pinewood's got is impressive."

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original source Torontoist

A visual feast on Toronto streets

Twin cities newspaper StarTribune writes on Toronto's captivating Distillery District neighbourhood. The restored Gooderham & Worts Distillery is lauded for its unique art galleries, many shopping and dinning destinations, and historic streetscape.

"Toronto is a safe, clean, comfortable city. Its eclectic streets and scenic avenues appeal to your inner walker, and few parts are better to explore on foot than the automobile-free, pedestrian-friendly Distillery District."

"Just off Lake Ontario, with the CN tower and a collage of skyscrapers hovering above, this former industrial area melds the corporate and cultural in a historic setting. Walking through the Mill Street entrance, you'll immediately get the picture, sensing the significance of it all."

"By 2001, the distillery had become mainly rubble when Mathew Rosenblatt and his development partners began to re-create the area into something that people, locals or tourists, would return to, says Rosenblatt."

"Viewing business as art, and intent on establishing a neighborhood where you "get a sense of the city's culture," Rosenblatt and his partners have taken 44 buildings, possibly the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America, and incorporated business, retail and artist spaces into a setting that exudes small-town charm. Walking these streets is akin to visiting an amusement park, and not having to pay for the rides, as the visual feast is entertainment enough."

"Koilos," a 14-foot tall, crouching sculpture by California artist Michael Christian, lords over Distillery Lane, alerting Parliament Street entrants that this is not going to be your ordinary walkabout.

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original source StarTribune

Tech and the city: Toronto is Canada's high-tech hub

A recent City of Toronto report entitled "Canada's High-Tech Hub: Toronto" looks at the city's growing and internationally recognized high-tech sector. The MaRS blog highlights three areas in particular where Toronto seems deemed to continue to excel - mobile apps, digital media, and social networking.

""Digital media is well positioned for healthy growth in Canada: 42% of Canadians share pictures online, 41% play games, 36% download music and movies and 35% access online newspapers. Businesses are going digital too–think paperless education, reviewing presentations on the fly and sales presentations with clients onsite."

"Social networking is playing an increasingly important role in the ways people connect, from our personal lives to our interactions with organizations. According to a 2009 consumer survey, 74% of respondents participated in or posted to social networking or community sites. 50% of Canadian organizations use social networking for recruiting and 40% use it as an information source when making ICT purchase decisions."

"Toronto is home to Facebook's Canadian office and will soon be home to a LinkedIn outpost. With two of the biggest social networking sites setting up their Canadian offices in Toronto, opportunities for thought leadership, knowledge sharing and partnerships will undoubtedly arise."

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original source MaRS Blog

Ryerson University unveils Ryerson Student Learning Centre design

Ryerson University recently unveiled the design for it's new Ryerson Student Learning Centre. The design, courtesy of Toronto-based architecture firm  Zeidler Partnership Architects, features a glass facade designed to create textured light qualities within the interior space. As reported by WIDN, constuction on the new building, to be located at the corner of Yonge and Gould, will begin sometime late this year.

"The eight-storey Student Learning Centre will be built at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets. It will feature a glass façade, a welcoming elevated plaza, a bridge to the existing library and a host of academic, study and collaborative spaces for Ryerson's students, faculty and staff. Yonge Street frontage will feature destination retail at and below grade, creating a major commercial facade."

"The 155,463 square-foot Student Learning Centre will feature a host of creative and inspiring learning environments and spaces. Every floor will be designed differently with some spaces to be open and interpretive with flexible furniture and terraces while others to be densely filled with enclosed study rooms for groups of four to eight people. Special spaces for independent, quiet study will also be featured."

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original source WIDN (World Interior Design Network)

Their gamble grew into an empire

The Toronto Star features Toronto culinary scene heavyweights, Michael Bonacini and Peter Oliver, co-founders and owners of Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants. O&B currently boasts more than a dozen event spaces and restaurants in Ontario, including Canoe, the acclaimed fine dining restaurant on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower and the O&B Canteen, the popular King Street spot housed inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox complex.

"O&B will focus its efforts on the Bay's flagship store on Queen St. W. at Yonge St., where it plans to launch Bannock by fall 2011. The concept is similar to Canteen, with all-day, sit-down service that's quick and inexpensive."

"We are going to be the best corporately run food service business in Toronto, in Southern Ontario, in Canada," declares Bonacini. "That's part of our goal."

"Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO of the Bay, wouldn't bet against them. "Oliver & Bonacini is such a successful, respected and creative food company in Toronto that they were a logical partner in our minds."

"The O&B story starts in 1993 with a restaurant called Jump."

"Stockbroker-turned-restaurateur Oliver owned a bakery across the street from Centro, the fine-dining restaurant on Yonge St. north of Eglinton where Bonacini was executive chef."

"Oliver had spent years setting up the deal to open Jump on Wellington St. W. near Yonge St. When his chef-to-be fell through, he proposed a partnership with Bonacini. "When Peter and I opened Jump 17 years ago, we were one of very few places to dine downtown," says Bonacini."

"He describes his partner as a visionary who lives for putting deals together. Oliver describes their skills as complementary, saying Bonacini "knows all the things that I don't know that much about."

"The men gambled that they could survive on business-district lunch alone. Within a few years of opening , a landlord at the nearby TD Bank Tower begged O&B to take over the restaurant on the building's 54th floor."

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original source Toronto Star

Coach helps couple build reno business

The Toronto Star features Godel Construction, a successful Toronto-based contracting company that specializes in renovating old homes. The husband and wife team behind Glodel construction, Lisa Godel and her husband Alan, have seen their business double in the past two years after employing the help of a professional business coach.

"For years, the Godels bought original homes from the early 1900s in old Toronto neighbourhoods and embarked on major renovations, building two-storey additions on the back, adding family rooms and master-bedroom suites. The couple renovated five homes of their own that way — buy, do major renovations, move in, finish the details, sell it and move on to the next one."

"About two years, ago, the Godels signed up for sessions with business coach Greg Peterson of Oakville-based Growth Advisors."

"They did beautiful work and they had tremendously satisfied clients," Peterson explains. "What they needed to improve was marketing and systemizing their operations, so their actions are repeatable and they can train other people to do it."

"It's a common trait among small businesses, Peterson says. The entrepreneur keeps everything to do with the day-to-day operations in his or her head."

"That's often a key to early success, but it becomes a stumbling block to growth when the founder is unable to delegate work or responsibility to others."

"Peterson says he has seen tremendous change in the Godels and their business."

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original source Toronto Star

Ravines a defining aspect of Toronto

The Globe & Mail interviews green entrepreneur Geoff Cape about the importance of Toronto's extensive ravine network. Cape, who conceived and championed the Evergreen Brick Works project, argues that Toronto's ravines have the potential to become a defining feature of the city. An excerpt from the interview:

"The ravines of Toronto are unique in the world. No other city has such an elaborate, such an extensive network of natural spaces. It's the defining aspect of Toronto. We have great hospitals, great cultural institutions, great universities, but so does New York, London, Chicago, Milan, Beijing. What we do have categorically unique is the ravine system. It's an asset for everyone. It doesn't distinguish between rich and poor and cultural diversity. It's available to all of us and it weaves virtually every neighbourhood, every community together, because it's physically so extensive. It connects us all."

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original source Globe & Mail

Toronto designers showcased at LG Fashion Week

The Fashionista Blog raves about 3 Toronto-based design labels--Greta Constantine, Arthur Mendonca, and Philip Sparks--who showcased their work during Toronto Fashion Week. The Toronto LG Fashion Week, which wrapped up on April 1st, featured both local and international designers in studio and runway show across the city.

"Known as "The Jersey Boys of Toronto," Greta Constantine designers Stephen Wong and Kirk Pickersgill have won the hearts of many who don their draped wonders from the runway to red carpet. This season, the pair ventured out on a global escapade and debuted a collection interwoven with a multitude of inspirations that seemingly reflected the multicultural tapestry of Canada. From Japanese cuts to Tibetan shapes, the label satisfied the taste of those with a nomadic sense of style."

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original source Fashionista

Four Seasons to open new Toronto property

Yorkville is getting another luxury hotel. As reported by Business Traveller, the Four Seasons Hotel Group has announced plans to open a new two-tower hotel and private residence in the neighbourhood. The complex, to be situated at the corner of Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue, is scheduled to open next summer.

"The new property is just one block east of the existing Four Season"s Hotel Toronto, which will close in April 2012, and which is itself the third incarnation of Four Seasons in the city."

"Next year will see the opening of the fourth Four Seasons hotel in Toronto, a new-build property comprising a 253-room hotel (a room count which is actually significantly down on the current 380), and over 200 private residences, spread across the 26-floor East Residence and 55-storey West Residence."

"The top floor of the West Residence will house the 840sqm penthouse residence, while the hotel will take up the first 20 floors of the buidling. Features will include a first-floor restaurant with "celebrity chef concept", a ground floor bar, and a 2,600sqm spa with a skylit indoor pool, whirlpool, treatment rooms and fitness centre. There will also be two ballrooms measuring 325 and 650sqm."

"General manager of the current Four Seasons property Dimitris Zarikos is also overseeing the new development, and described the décor of the new property as being "minimalist, with muted tones and plenty of contemporary art."


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original source Business Traveller


Toronto iPad game "Sword & Sworcery" gaining international praise

Wired UK writes on "Sword & Sworcery", a Toronto-developed iPad game that has received international praise since its launch last week. Designed through a collaboration between Toronto game company Capy, local artist Superbrothers and singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie, Sworcery is described as "far closer to an experimental, interactive art piece than a traditional game".

"To say anything, of any real substance, about Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, would be wrong. So much of this game -- an evocative, Zen-like fantasy romp for iPad -- is about the sheer thrill of curiosity, exploration and discovery."

"It figures, considering the endless back catalogue of adventure cult classics and minimalistic masterpieces that no doubt inspired the game. There are hints of The Legend of Zelda -- but more bushwhacking through an uncharted Hyrule than epic world-saving heroics -- and PlayStation 2 marvel Shadow of the Colossus. It reminds me of Ico, Prince of Persia and Another World."

"All games that were not afraid to sit back, drop you in a completely foreign space and let you explore with as little handholding as possible. They were games that harnessed the childlike joy of discovery and relished in the unexpected, with few tutorials and no shepherding arrows to push you in the right direction. This game definitely belongs in that exclusive club."

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original source Wired UK

Dwell Magazine tours Toronto

Dwell Magazine's Miyoko Ohtake spent a week in Toronto on the look out for the city's "most interesting and innovative spots". She raves about it all--from the TIFF Lightbox to the Willcocks Commons to Gladstone Hotel--in her "Touring Toronto" slideshow.

"[Toronto] continues to surprise me, with its creative forces always at work, interesting and innovative spots always presenting themselves, and endless construction being done"

see slideshow here
original source Dwell

Drake Hotel announces plans for expansion

Toronto Life writes on the Drake Hotel's latest expansion plans. The iconic Queen West institution recently announced that it plans to partner with local architecture firm ERA Architects Inc. to add new guest rooms in the Drake-owned property next door to the main building.

"We've been thinking about the in expansion for quite a while now; it's sort of been in fruition almost since the opening," Ana Yuristy, director of hotel operations, told us, adding that the new guest rooms will be just east of the main hotel. Owner Jeff Stober purchased the buildings next door early on-- those that house the Drake General Store and Drake BBQ -- and it's the space above these that will be filled in with additional rooms."

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original source Toronto Life

City dressed for success

In anticipation of the launch of LG Fashion Week on March 28, the Toronto Star looks at the the state of the city's fashion industry. While  manufacturing jobs are on the decline, the article reports, the professional side of the industry is healthy and growing.

"Toronto is a growing market connected to consumers around the world, says Ben Barry, business director for VAWK -- the brand developed by Project Runway Canada winner Sunny Fong."

"You can easily be based here, but build a global brand," thanks to social media, says Barry. VAWK, which currently sells out of The Room at The Bay, will be at LG Fashion Week for the first time."

"Barry says Canada is an emerging market for luxury fashion. Toronto is home to good fashion schools and the Toronto Fashion Incubator, an agency Barry calls "amazing."

"The city is currently home to the third-largest design workforce in North America and the city has a long history of apparel manufacturing. But that sector began to dry up in the early '80s, explains labour expert Alex Dagg."

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original source Toronto Star

Thorncliffe Park to get cricket field

An underused and poorly maintained Thorncliffe Park playground could soon be transformed into a vibrant community hub complete with a cricket field, amphitheatre, butterfly garden, and extensive green space. As reported by the Globe & Mail, the $1.7-million "Valley Park Go Green" plan was initiated by a group of community activists and staff at Valley Park Middle School in an effort to give the children living in one of Toronto's densest low-come neighbourhoods "somewhere to go".

"Led by principal Nickolas Stefanoff, they plan to transform the school's playground into a community hub that will include a regulation-size cricket field, an attraction sure to draw residents out from the towers."

"Cricket isn't just a sport for many of the neighbourhood's residents, Mr. Stefanoff says. "It's a religion."

"If we need drivers for a field trip, you might get one or two. But a cricket tournament? Everyone has their own driver," says Mr. Hayter, who is also coach of the school's cricket team."

"The pitch may be its centrepiece, but the plan for the Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field project also includes an amphitheatre, butterfly garden, public gardens, a system that will divert rainwater from the school's roof to be used for irrigation, a bioswale (a landscape feature that traps pollutants) and much more green space covered by a generous tree canopy, all occupying three hectares (7.5 acres) of land."

"It's going beyond a schoolyard," says Arifa Hai, the landscape architect who is working on the project."

"We have a $3-billion backlog in school renewal … so this kind of very significant capital investment in a school field that will serve the school but also serve the community, we don't have board funds to be able to do that," says Sheila Penny, director of strategic building and renewal at the TDSB."

"Still, those behind the project say they are confident they will be able to raise the $1.7-million needed."

"Funding is beginning to pour in, says Lisa Green, co-chair of the Valley Park Go Green committee. The group expects to receive about $1-million in various grants in the next three months, and has received donations from several organizations, including $50,000 from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and $25,000 from the Live Green Toronto's stormwater management program."


read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

Jewellery designer also educates customers

The Toronto Star writes on local jewellery designer and small business owner, Jennifer Shigetomi. Shigetomi specializes in handcrafted rings and necklaces which she designs and sells as at her North Toronto store Matsu Jewellery. Because her pieces tend to cost more than the competition--due to the fact that she handcrafts each one--Shigetomi employs social media to explain to her customers the work that goes into each unique creation.

"When your product costs twice as much as the competition's, making a sale takes a little more convincing. For Jennifer Shigetomi, it's probably the hardest part of running a small, independent business."

"I spend a lot of time educating people as to why it costs so much," says Shigetomi. "There's a big difference between something that's hand-crafted to order and something that gets put out by a machine."

"Getting the word out has been a lot easier thanks to social media, she adds. Although she's done some advertising in magazines, she doesn't have the budget to do it as often as she'd like. Instead, she updates her Facebook page with her latest projects or sends out tweets when she's appearing at trade shows".

"I've really only been doing it for the last year or so, but it's been great. A lot of our business is really word of mouth, so when somebody 'likes' our Facebook page, all of their friends see it, and it's like a stamp of approval," says Shigetomi, who estimates about 80 per cent of her customers come from client referrals."

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original source Toronto Star

Extraordinary Mongrel Media office mixes old and new

As part of a series on the coolest offices in Canada, the Globe & Mail features video of Mongrel Media's Toronto workspace. The office, located on Queen West near Ossington, stands out for "combining traditional elements of a turn-of-the-century building with modern elements of design".

Founded in 1994, Mongrel Media is a Toronto-based film distribution company specializing in art house, foreign and independent feature films and documentaries.

watch video here
original source Globe & Mail


CNN names Drake one of best hotel bars

CNN has named Toronto's Drake Hotel Sky Yard one of the "World's 15 best hotel bars". The West Queen West rooftop bar is described "as a place so hip that just being there cranks up the cool-scale ranking".

"The garden-like space, lined with eastern-inspired booths and daybeds, plays host to indie film screenings, sing-alongs, art shows, clothing sales and bands."

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original source CNN


Toronto startup creates gloves that work with touch screens

The National Post writes on Glider Gloves, a new Toronto company that produces winter gloves that work with touch screen devices. The gloves are created from conductive yarns, allowing users to play with their touch screen phone while keeping their fingers warm. Launched less than a year ago by three young Toronto entrepreneurs, Glider Gloves are available online as well as in Rogers, Telus, and Wind Mobile stores.

"My partner came up with the idea last year. While taking off his gloves, he spilled coffee all over his iPhone," said Amar Thiara, 28, marketing manager for Glider Gloves. "He thought, there has to be a better way of doing this."

"The solution was to make gloves from conductive yarns. Touch screens work by passing a small current across their surface; when the user presses a finger to the screen, that current is altered. The device knows where the finger is, based on where the current fluctuates. But with normal gloves, the user's fingers are insulated, and the screen doesn't register any fluctuations."

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original source National Post

Toronto company unveils world's first wireless electric bike

Daymak Inc. -- a Toronto-based company that designs, develops and manufacturers e-bikes--has launched the world's first "wireless power-assisted electric bicycle". As reported by Gizmag, the bike, dubbed the "Shadow EBike" does away with the cumbersome cords and wires of traditional e-bikes by relying exclusively on wireless technology.

"Got a problem with the various gear and brake cables winding their way around your bike frame? If you're riding a standard pedal-powered bike, the answer is probably 'no.' But if you're one of the increasing numbers of people getting around town on an electric bike than your answer may be different, with faulty wiring one of the most common sources of failures found in such vehicles. While some hide their electrical wiring away inside the frame, many e-bikes have wires running down the outside. Like so many of today's electrical devices, the new Shadow Ebike does away with this unsightly mess and potential point of weakness using wireless technology."

"Through the integration of ISM 2.4 GHz wireless using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology to prevent interference, the Shadow has no brake or gear cables, and no visible electric wires running from the motor to the batteries, the controller or throttle. Turning the electric motor on or off, the magnetic regenerative brakes, the throttle and the pedal assist are all controlled wirelessly via the Daymak Drive controller."

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original source Gizmag

Toronto mitten company gets international endorsements

As reported by the Toronto Star MimiTENS--a Toronto company that makes childproof, stay-on mittens--has had a year of international recognition. While the company first went global in 2007, it was only this winter that MimiTens attracted coveted celebrity endorsements and international attention, from Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop to Vogue Italia to Netherlands' lifestyle website goodsense.nu.

"Anna-Maria Mountfort, 38, created a decorated mitt connected to a long, knit sleeve that runs up the child's arm, almost to the elbow. It is virtually impossible to shake them off, says Mountfort, who got the idea in 2005, constructed a prototype the following year and began marketing the idea almost immediately. She calls her company MimiTENS, a play on the French mes mitaines: my mittens."

"Building a company on the premise of unmovable mittens with no strings attached has kept Mountfort busy for more than five years. "It went global in the first year," she says."

"This winter, Mountfort campaigned to attract high-profile celebrity endorsements, courting big names like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow...Paltrow's people included the mittens in the most recent instalment of GOOP, the actor's lifestyle newsletter that promotes her brand of the good life under headings such as make, go, get, do, be and see."

"Mountfort is thrilled to be recognized. Paltrow is an inspiration, she says. "She seems really happy and well balanced and this is the kind of thing that drives other people nuts," says Mountfort. "I applaud her for being herself. She doesn't sell ads and she doesn't trade in making people feel bad."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star

Ritz-Carlton Toronto debuts

The Ritz-Carlton Toronto, the new 267 room luxury hotel on Wellington Street, has officially opened its doors to the public. In order to give international travelers a peak inside too, the Ritz-Carleton has created a virtual tour of the opulent hotel. The video can be watched in full on the hotel's Facebook page and on Business Traveller.com

read full story here
original source Business Traveller

Toronto's Wave Decks continue to receive international praise

The Toronto Wavedecks, the wooden wave-like pedestrian walkways along Toronto's central waterfront, are continually getting international praise from architecture enthusiasts. Four years after the completion of the first wavedeck, the structures--designed by architecture firms West 8 and DTAH--are frequently pointed to as an example of successful waterfront and public space design. In the last month, the Wavedecks have been praised in, among other publications, Arch Daily, The Wall Street Journal, and Japan's Kudo design blog.

From Arch Daily:

"In response to an innovative design competition launched by Waterfront Toronto, West 8 submitted a comprehensive vision for the Central Waterfront that produced a powerful design language with the strength and simplicity to overcome the existing visual noise and create a sense of interconnectedness and identity. Connectivity between the vitality of the city and the lake and a continuous, publicly accessible waterfront are the plan's priorities."

"Spadina, Simcoe and Rees wavedecks are the first in a series of timber structures that explore variations of a simple articulation in the change in level between Queens Quay Boulevard and Lake Ontario along the Toronto Central Waterfront. Responding to the current pinch-points where the streetscape meets the water's edge, a new public space gateway is created where the city kisses the lake, inspired by the sinuous contours of the shoreline of the Canadian lakefront."

"The geometry of the wavedeck is carefully conceived using playful curves that are constantly changing to create ledges for seating and new routes to access the water's edge. It allows for different vantage points and ultimately different experiences with both the lake and the city. In order to establish a coherent aesthetic for the public realm along the waterfront, the simple undulating timber wave gesture became a prototype that will be repeated at seven heads of slips with subtle variation. Using a consistent palette of materials and details, the identity of each wave structure will be derived from the unique curvatures of the structure as well as the activities suggested through its form."

read full story here, here and here
original sources Arch Daily, Wall Street Journal, and Kudo




Local design firm viva&co does its third New Yorker cover

Toronto design firm Viva & Co.'s have designed their third New Yorker cover. Check out their blog to see "Mental Landscape", the New Yorker cover from the last week of January.

read full story here
original source Viva&Co.

The Gladstone's fifth anniversary

The Gladstone Hotel recently celebrated 5 years since its re-emergence in 2005 as an art-hotel, venue space and bar. The National Post's Adam McDowell writes on The Gladstone's "commitment to being a dozen flavours under one roof" and how its become one of Toronto greatest cultural hubs.

"... a party last month to marked five years since the place reopened with a new and hipper ownership and management, vibe and mandate. True to the Gladstone's commitment to being a dozen flavours under one roof, the party featured a jazz band, art installations and fleshy burlesque dancers doing their saucy thing under a bright green number five."

"Like the Drake down the street, the Gladstone was, not so long ago, a seedy beer hall with a quasi-rooming house upstairs and a gritty reputation. My mother was terribly nervous when, as a teenager in the mid-1990s, I had a meeting with a gig promoter there. Nowadays, it functions as a hipster community centre while still catering to some of the old Queen Street blue-collar crowd (their patron saint was Hank "The Gladstone Cowboy" Young, the chatty operator of the vintage elevator, who passed away in October 2009 and is greatly missed). The experiment has given the place a unique charm and energy. Depending on the night or day, you can partake in an art show, a bluegrass concert, nude art lessons or Simpsons trivia. Or while away a Sunday afternoon with a bottle or two of Molson Stock Ale."

read full story here
original source National Post

Historic Arcadian Court gets a makeover

Toronto's legendary Arcadian Court, the restaurant and event space that occupies the Bay's eighth floor, is getting a makeover. The Court, which first opened in 1929 in what was then the Simpsons Department Store, has been a Toronto institution for decades. As reported by the Toronto Star the "new" Arcadian Court, tentatively dubbed "The Loft", will be revamped as a versatile event and meeting space.
 
"Now part of the flagship Bay store, the current owners say they plan to restore the Arcadian Court to its former glory, the next step in breathing life back into the department store chain, a once fading Canadian icon."

"The plan for the Arcadian Court is part of a larger deal the Bay has struck with upscale local restaurateur Oliver & Bonacini and global foodservice firm Compass Group Canada to make over the restaurants in all 24 Bay stores that offer foodservice."

"Upstairs next to the Arcadian Court, the retailer plans to create a new event and meeting space, tentatively called The Loft, which will cater to both business and social occasions of various sizes. Construction is scheduled to begin in April and end 16 months later."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star



Clever designs fit small spaces

A Globe & Mail video looks at the success of Toronto-based interior design company, The FHE (Fresh Home Elements) Group. In business for only 14 months, FHE Group products, affordable and compact home accessories, are already taking in off in major Canadian retailers.  

see video here
original source Globe & Mail

Fast Company on Toronto's Distillery District

Fast Company encourages visitors to Toronto to check out the city's Distillery District, citing the addition of a sake brewery as yet another reason the District is worth the trip. The repurposed Gooderham and Worts site, already known for its concentration of restaurants, boutiques, and galleries, will be the home of The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company by this comping April.

"For first-time travelers to Toronto, it's often Yorkville and West Queen West that get most of the love. But another part of downtown that's also worth a trip is the Distillery District, on the east side. This complex of Victorian-era stone and brick buildings, now a multi-use development, is already known for its restaurants and boutiques. Come April, the area will also get its own sake brewery, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company. It will be a true rarity, one of just a handful of sake-makers in North America, and the only one on the eastern half."

read full story here
original source Fast Company



Come Up to My Room 2011

Blog TO writes on the 2011 edition of Come Up to My Room (CUTMR), an annual design event at the Gladstone Hotel. CUTMR, curated by Deborah Wang and Jeremy Vandermeij, brings in over 30 designers/artists to temporarily redesign one of the hotel's many rooms. Blog TO hosts pictures and reviews of this year's exhibition.

"As usual, it's impossible to assign a controlling theme to CUTMR. In keeping with the original idea behind the show, the curators select the artists rather than the pieces. "Once these creative individuals and collectives have been selected, they are given a public space or one of the 11 exhibition rooms on the hotel's second floor. Curators consult and discuss public space projects with their makers, but know next to nothing about the room installations." There are two ideas behind this arrangement: 1) each is designed specifically for the show and 2) it helps to foster artistic creativity by removing as many constraints as possible."

read full story here
original source Blog TO

Toronto's unstoppable condos show no signs of slowing down

A National Post feature looks at Toronto's "unstoppable" condo market. The continued growth of the condo industry--5,500 new units will be built in the downtown core this year--is attributed to a stable Canadian economy, high levels of immigration, and a vibrant downtown.

"Brad Lamb believes Toronto's downtown condominium market is out of this world."

"There's no other place on the planet where all this [activity] is happening," says the president of Brad J. Lamb Realty, who specializes in downtown condo sales. "We have a large immigration of people coming to Toronto every year. We have a diverse economy that can support a reasonably affluent lifestyle. And we have a very stable Canadian economy. Everyone is recognizing how great Canada is, and Toronto is the centre of Canada."

"According to Urbanation, numbers cruncher to the development industry, 16,000 new condo units are expected to come to the Toronto CMA area this year (5,500 will be in the downtown core), down slightly from last year but still a healthy level. RealNet Canada reports that in the first 11 months of 2010, 36% of new condo units sold in the Greater Toronto Area were situated in the downtown core between Bloor Street and the waterfront. Twenty-two per cent of GTA's new condo sales took place in what RealNet calls Downtown West, between University Avenue and Dufferin Street, which RealNet president George Carras says totalled more than all of Calgary's new condo sales in the same time period. With interest rates low and close to 100,000 new immigrants arriving on Toronto's doorstep every year, 2011 is expected to continue drawing in the masses."

read full story here
original source National Post

Concord CityPlace unveils Jose Parla's massive murals

Concord Cityplace this week unveiled its latest art installations, two massive and highly-detailed murals by Brooklyn-based artist Jose Parla. The Ministry of Artistic Affairs features photos of the stunning pieces (available for public view) and an interview with their creator.

"On January 20, 2011, a gala party was held in downtown Toronto for José Parlá to celebrate the reveal of two massive public art murals he painted as a commission for Concord CityPlace."

"Interwoven into the art and very fabric of his life, travel is something José Parlá does constantly. Born in Miami to Cuban parents, raised in Puerto Rico and now based in Brooklyn, Parlá has spent the last decade journeying with exhibitions of his work around the world. Throughout his years of global wandering, he has developed a highly sophisticated system of calligraphy that reflects, like a mirror, the wear and tear of the urban environments he passes through. Capturing the light in Havana, colors of Istanbul, or the pace of Tokyo, his works are visual meditations on global locations and the people that occupy them. This last point is important because, though abstract, Parlá's paintings are all about the characters he meets and the friends he makes along the way. With a Clooney-esque degree of charm spun around a warm, Latino spool, Parlá leaves behind a thread of admirers, companions, and connections whenever he departs for his next destination."

read full story here
original source The Ministry of Artistic Affairs

The Ballroom brings bowling back to Toronto

The much-anticipated Ballroom, Toronto's first downtown bowling alley in 30 years, has officially opened its doors for business. Located at
Richmond and John, the Ballroom boasts 10 lanes, pin ping pong tables, a sports-bar, and restaurant.

"There's a new alternative for entertainment in clubland, where you can still act like a kingpin from the gutter with perfect game, but your friends won't laugh at you when you strike out."

"It's called The Ballroom, Toronto's only downtown bowling alley, now open for business at the corner of Richmond and John.  But as Co-owner Thanos Tripi told CityNews Tuesday, there's a lot more to it than Turkeys and 7-10 splits."

"The Ballroom is currently open to the public but with a limited menu.  They'll be having their grand opening on February 1st."

"We're about 80 percent there," Tripi adds.  "We've got all the bones we just have to put on the makeup."

read full story here
original source CityTV News

The Hindu hails Toronto

The Hindu Magazine hails Toronto in a recent Travel Section feature, describing the city as "every tourist's delight" and "the perfect mix of old and new". "Canada's most bustling city" received high praise for its eclectic architecture, multitude of attractions, and commitment to diversity.

"The first impression about Toronto is its vertical limitlessness. Everything appears to be racing up-up-upper to meet the sky. Winch your neck and all you see is a bit of blue peeping from between two tall orders of concrete and glass."

"A Canada's most bustling city, Toronto is considered its financial and entertainment capital, and Central District is the place to catch this buzz. It has the best spread of gourmet restaurants, nightlife, hotels, visual arts, fashion and more. To mention a few, there's the Princess of Wales and Royal Alexandra theatres; the new permanent home of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox; the happening Yonge Street—the oldest street of the city and also considered the longest in all North America; prêt shopping hot-spot as King Street or ritzy boutiques of Yorkville and Bloor St West; the outdoorsy St Lawrence Market and Kensington Market known for fresh food products; the ever- popular Queen West, the city's one-stop trendy and hip cultural street; and of course it's got the CN Tower that lord's over them all."

read full story here
original source The Hindu

Toronto poster art a cool way to show hometown pride

The Globe and Mail writes on the growing body of Toronto-centric graphic design, from band posters to detailed maps, that "celebrates the city as artistic muse".

 "Ian Gillies, who owns Telegramme Prints, which has locations in Leslieville and on Ossington, says urban pride has established itself as a design aesthetic for many Toronto residents."

"If it's got a Toronto reference on it, people want it," he said. "We have a bad hockey team and the political culture can be a little bit irritating at times, but I think there's just a lot of people who really like living in the city."

"Among Mr. Gillies's best sellers are the Ork Posters, city maps created by Chicago artist Jenny Beorkrem that depict urban centres, including Toronto and Vancouver, by assembling the names of individual neighbourhoods."

"In Toronto, posters with a local bent have become an accessible entry point to the art scene and a way of demonstrating hometown pride."

read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

Green roofs in Toronto, one year later

In January of last year Toronto City Hall announced an ambitious and innovative sustainability policy, requiring all new buildings and retrofits to include a green roof. Now, one year later, Blog TO looks at some of the most noteworthy projects that have emerged as a result.

read full story here
original source Blog TO

Cool Hunter features Toronto home

The Cool Hunter recently featured Toronto's Integral House, the stunning Toronto residence of millionaire Math professor Dr. James Stewart. Designed by architectectural firm Shim Sutcliffe, Stewart's 18,000-square-foot home--located in Toronto's Rosedale neighbourhood--boasts  "a multitude of seductive curves, massive amounts of floor to ceiling glass, a spectacular staircase" and 150-seat concert hall.

"The house exudes a patina, a classic semi-Scandinavian simplicity that makes it seem older, more established and mature than a brash, brand-new house. There's a lovely sense of dynamism as well, as if the building were in motion, rolling along ever so slowly, or perhaps just coming to stillness after a long architectural journey."

"The fantastic staircase is really a commissioned work of art, a collaboration between the architects, glass artist Mimi Gellman, and structural engineer David Bowick. It is constructed of hand-blown blue glass rectangles that are supported by cast bronze clips and stainless steel cables."

"The house has already been on the Architectural Digest annual Toronto tour and it has become a part of the city's must-see architecture. In a Wall Street Journal article, Glenn D. Lowry, director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, was quoted as saying: "I think it's one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time."

read full story here
original source The Cool Hunter
 

2010's notable architecture

Urban Toronto looks back at the most notable new buildings of 2010. One Bloor, the Queen Richmond Centre West, and the Bisha Hotel & Residences are among the buildings that transformed Toronto's architectural landscape over the past year.

read full list and descriptions here
original source Urban Toronto

4D Cityscape Time Puzzles build cities from the board up

The National Post writes on 4D Cityscape Time Puzzles, a series of city maquettes designed by Toronto entrepreneur Shaun Sakdinan. Sakdinan's launched his puzzles series--scale replicas of cities around the world--early this year and are already being carried by more than 3,000 stores internationally. New York, the first city designed was unveiled last October, quickly followed by Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington and Toronto.

"Each puzzle starts on a base of traditional jigsaw pieces, complete with glow-in-the-dark streets; once that's complete, the next layer uses scale-model buildings to create a given city's current skyline. Sakdinan's twist is the addition of what a fourth dimension: time. Architectural landmarks such as islands, bridges, statues and buildings get installed in chronological sequence."

The first 4D Cityscape metropolis, New York, was unveiled last October. "It's the hardest city," Sakdinan said, "and we wanted a challenge!" In addition to the base pieces, the puzzle contains 126 interlocking landmarks that span two centuries. Next came Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington and Toronto, "because we're from Toronto and we had to have Toronto," he said. (Canadians seem to have a knack for puzzles. The original 3-D puzzles, Puzz-3D, were pioneered by Montreal's Paul Gallant and his puzzle company Wrebbit.)

"The idea is when you get the jigsaw puzzle complete, it teaches you the history of the city. After City Hall in 1812 in New York the next building might be 1940, the Chrysler building," he enthused. "You're recreating time. If you wanted to take a rest you could leave it at the skyline in 1970 and experience it how it was at that moment in time."

"The educational puzzles are now carried by more than 3,000 stores internationally — including FAO Schwartz, National Geographic, Toys "R" Us and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Harrods and Hamleys in London (in Canada, the 4-D CityScape Puzzles are $29.99 and available at Sears stores across the country and through Mastermind Toys). It was also named 2010 Gift of the Year by the Gift Association of the U.K."

read full story here
original source National Post

Ritz-Carlton Toronto to open in February

Business Traveller writes on the upcoming opening of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto. Scheduled to open this February, the 53-floor 267-room property caters to locals and tourists, offering hotel suites and private residences.

"Luxury hotel group Ritz-Carlton is to open a 267-room property in Toronto in February."

"Housed in a new 53-floor tower on Wellington Street, between the city's financial and entertainment districts, the hotel will take up the first 20 floors while the remaining levels will be given over to Ritz-Carlton residences."

"Rooms will start from 42 sqm and will be contemporary in décor, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing either city or lake views. They will come equipped with 42-inch flatscreen TVs, Bose stereos with an iPod dock, DVD players, and marble bathrooms with a separate tub and rainshower and a TV built into the mirror."

read full story here
original source Business Traveller

Exhibit fit for a King at AGO

The Huffington Post's Marissa Bronfman raves about the Art Gallery of Ontario's latest exhibit, Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts describing  the show as "an opulent celebration of a dazzling period in Indian history." Organized in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Maharaja runs from November 20th until April 3rd and features over 200 objects (including furniture, paintings and jewelry) created for Indian Royalty.

"Every object in Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts is a jewel in its own right but the AGO hopes the exhibit will get beneath the jewelry to tell a captivating story about a fascinating time in history. With more than half of Canada's South Asian community residing in Ontario, the AGO is the perfect home for Maharaja, and it's a home that will be welcoming everyone under the age of 25 to view the exhibit for free, thanks to generous donations from four prominent Canadian companies. Mandhatasinhji says Maharaja "brings to life the beauty and aesthetics of a bygone era," and he couldn't be more right -- one walk through this exhibit will make you feel like Royalty, even if only for a day."

read full story here
original source Huffington Post

Tattoo parlour designs clever campaign

The Globe & Mail lauds Harbord tattoo parlour Speakeasy for their innovative use of both online and traditional PR. Owner Lizzie Renaud uses almost every available social media tool -- Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr -- to showcase artwork, stories and even to fill last minute cancellations. But Renaud is also known for her use of more traditional communications, in the summer of 2010 she worked with a designer to create postcard-shaped handbills to advertise Speakeasy's "guest artists" program.

"When a colleague told me about Toronto-based Speakeasy Tattoo, I was intrigued. She said Lizzie Renaud, the shop's owner, was doing some really cool things online – Ms. Renaud and her team fill last-minute cancellations through Twitter and share their stories and artwork on WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and other tattooing websites. You name the social network, Speakeasy is there."

"But marketing is a particular challenge for Ms. Renaud: she runs a very small business in a specialized market, and it is important to her to always respect the tightly knit group of tattoo artists and shops in her community."

"You can't ever come out and say 'we are the best shop in Toronto' because you would be stepping on the toes of the people who made you who you are," Ms. Renaud explains. "The people who taught me to tattoo are in this city, so it is a huge challenge to stay modest and respect everyone."

"So Ms. Renaud and her team did something innovative to set Speakeasy apart: they reached out to five well-known tattoo artists and asked them to work as guests in the summer of 2010. Despite her commitment to blogging and social media, when it came time to promote the roster of guests, she deployed a completely integrated campaign that used a combination of online and offline tactics."

"We decided to go old school," says Ms. Renaud, speaking about her offline strategy. She worked with a designer to produce glossy, postcard-shaped handbills, which included art by the guest artists, the dates they were coming, and the shop contact information."

read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

Massive new furniture store opens on Caledonia

BlogTO reviews Shelter Furniture, the newest design store to open in the Eglinton-Lawrence area. Located in a remodeled warehouse at Caledonia Road and Glencairn Avenue, the store is described as "beautiful, brightly lit, and well organized...".

"What I most liked was the large collection of dining room tables and chairs. Too many times, furniture stores overlook these pieces because they can start to all look the same, but Shelter Furniture has enough variety to making choosing the perfect piece enjoyably difficult. Among my favourite pieces are the extendable frosted white glass dining table with brushed metal base ($999) and the Dakota dining table with clear glass top and wooden "swoosh" base ($1599). My must-have table is the strikingly cool Opio bleached pine table at 110' for $1999. It's big enough to fit a family for holiday dinners but cute enough for even the most intimate of breakfasts."

read full story here
original source BlogTO


Toronto's New Corus Quay Building Spawns Public Art

The Huffington Post writes on Corus Quay, the new 8-storey Build Toronto office building located in the Waterfront district. Corus Quay has recently become home to a large-scale art installation by British design firm Troika.

"A shimmering combination of Brancusian shapes, swarm robotics and corporate ceiling design, the new installation by British design firm Troika is an image of hope for the city of Toronto...It's a simple, benevolent image for one of the city's industrial districts, but we wonder just how complex the patterns can get: do the fish seem to swim away if you're hostile?"

read full story here
original source Huffington Post

A Toronto art studio's laser-etched rugs

The New York Times recently featured Moss & Lam, a Toronto-based art studio that specializes in custom-designed art works for hotels, restaurants and stores across the globe. Moss and Lam's newest product--laser-etched cowhide and wool felt rugs--marks the company's first foray into "more intimately scaled" products.

"I was wanting to make objects again, going back to my roots as an artist," said Deborah Moss, who runs the company with her husband, Edward Lam, and who designed the new pieces, which include a series of laser-etched rugs. "These are more personal."

"The rugs come in wool felt or cowhide (starting at $140 a square foot) and are decorated with re-creations of hand-drawn patterns: the felt version with maps of cities like Paris, London, Berlin and New York; the Peau de Bois hide rugs with faux wood grain."

read full story here
original source New York Times

University of Toronto student flies world's first ornithopter

University of Toronto student Todd Reichert has been making international headlines for creating the first ornithopter--an engineless, wing-flapping aircraft--capable of sustained flight. As reported by the BBC, Reichert's plane flew nonstop for 19.3 seconds on the 2nd of August  2010. The record breaking feat, performed at The Great Lakes Gliding Club in Tottenham, Ontario, is expected to be confirmed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale at its October meeting. 

"Mr Reichert, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, said the Snowbird "represents the completion of an age-old aeronautical dream."

"Throughout history, countless men and women have dreamt of flying like a bird under their own power, and hundreds, if not thousands have attempted to achieve it," he said in a statement. "This represents one of the last of the aviation firsts."
 
"Other craft with flapping wings have taken off, but the team claim theirs is the first to actually power itself in flight...To keep it light, lift-off mechanisms were not built in.Instead, a tow car helped lift it clear of the ground. But then Mr Reichert took over, using his feet to pump a bar that flaps the wings."

read full story here
original source BBC News


Evergreen Brick Works set to become cultural beacon in Toronto

The Evergreen Brick Works, one of Toronto's most anticipated development projects, has officially opened to the public. For the past eight years Evergreen, an environmental non-for-profit, has been working diligently to transform 16.5-hectares of the Don River flood plain into a lively and sustainable public space. The Brick Works--which now houses, among other amenities, a museum, a year-round camp, and a food market--has already been hailed by the Globe & Mail as "cultural beacon for Torontonians and tourists alike" and by the National Geographic as one of the "world's best geo-tourism destinations".

"In many ways, [the Evergreen Brick Works's] arrival – a definitive argument for a better conserved, more sustainable Toronto – could not be more timely, coming only weeks before a municipal election that many regard as a referendum on the shape of the city's future."

"In the course of a single day, depending on the season, visitors will be able to hike, fish, scale a 27-metre climbing tower, ice skate, study trees and plants, tend a garden, fix or ride a bicycle, study art, attend a lecture on urban issues, walk the Beltline (it starts right there), dine on Brad Long's family-oriented meals, explore for fossils, watch deer, picnic, and more."

read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

Toronto Film Fest: Let there be Lightbox

This week marked the start of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the grand opening of its brand new Head Quarters, the Bell Lightbox Theater. The new theater, located at the corner of King and John, has shifted the festival focus from Yorkvillle, where its been centered in past years, to the entertainment district. According to the Chicago Tribune, the $200 million mixed-use complex "gives film festivalgoers of Chicago, New York and L.A. (and everywhere in between) plenty of reasons to be envious."

"The Toronto International Film Festival's long-awaited new "cathedral of cinema," as one TIFF programmer, Thom Powers, put it, opened its doors to the public Sunday. And it looked good. Very good."

"The sooner this place becomes home base for North America's premier festival, the better it'll be for everyone's cinematic sake."

Designed by Toronto's Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the Lightbox — representing a $200 million dollar burst of civic and cultural pride —anchors a 42-story mixed-use development known as Festival Tower. The land was donated by director Ivan Reitman and his family. So. This is a cathedral built on a foundation of "Meatballs" and "Ghostbusters."

read full story here
original source Chicago Tribune

Futurists: Guides on the road we'll travel

The Toronto Star reports on the Ontario College of Art & Design's (OCAD) masters program "of design in strategic foresight and innovation". OCAD is the first school in Canada to offer a "futurist" program--a program that challenges students to research current trends in order to make forecasts for the future.

"A futurist is a professional who fastidiously researches current trends and patterns to identify the driving forces of change. From there, they paint possible scenarios of what the near future holds. They're hired by Fortune 500 companies and governments to act as advisers and consultants, and forecast where technology, security, health care, politics and sustainability are headed."

"Last year, the Ontario College of Art & Design became the first in Canada to offer a master's of design in strategic foresight and innovation — a two-year, part-time course aimed at mid-career professionals. The program challenges students to solve complex problems — be they political, entrepreneurial, environmental or sociological — by examining the present, forecasting outcomes and devising with solutions that stretch the imagination and explore ideas outside the linear-shaped box."

"The first phase is horizon scanning," explains Greg Van Alstyne, director of the Strategic Innovation Lab, part of the futurist program. "We're looking for quiet signals of change over the horizon. Foresight is not about predicting the future, but about exploring scenario outcomes . . . The goal is to get beyond personal blind spots and biases."

"Students come from multidisciplinary backgrounds and include health-care industry workers, entrepreneurs and science fiction writers such as Karl Schroeder, who was already working as a consultant for the Canadian government writing future "wild card" scenarios on matters of security and technology."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star

University of Toronto's Scarborough campus to get a major makeover

The Globe & Mail writes on the UofT Scarborough's (UTSC) dramatic makeover in preparation for the 2015 Pan AM Games in Toronto. The renovations plans include an  $170-million aquatic center, a hotel and convention centre, a performing arts centre, new residences and academic buildings and a pedestrian throughfare. As reported by the Globe & Mail, far from only serving the athletic "extravaganza" the new additions have the potential to give UTSC a new identity and "to do for southeast Scarborough what Ryerson is doing for Yonge Street and George Brown College is expected to do for Toronto's waterfront: Improve the neighbourhood."

"When Franco Vaccarino became principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough three years ago, he kept hearing a back-handed compliment about his new campus."

"This place," people would say, "is a hidden gem."

"Shrouded by trees and invisible from the nearest major streets, UTSC is more like a covert campus. In his careful academic way, Prof. Vaccarino concedes the school needs to blow its own cover."

"I like the 'gem' part," Prof. Vaccarino said. "I'm not so sure about the 'hidden' part."

"Now UTSC is on its way to becoming a much more visible treasure, thanks to an international sporting extravaganza bigger than the Winter Olympics.The 2015 Pan Am Games and a new $170-million aquatic centre for UTSC are propelling an extreme campus makeover that could include a hotel and convention centre, a performing arts centre, a new pedestrian thoroughfare lined with restaurants and cafés, and new residences and academic buildings.By transforming 50 hectares north of the existing campus, the expansion could do for southeast Scarborough what Ryerson is doing for Yonge Street and George Brown College is expected to do for Toronto's waterfront: Improve the neighbourhood. The spillover effect is especially important at UTSC, where the poor – and poorly served – pockets of Kingston-Galloway and Malvern are a few kilometres away."

"There's a lot of pride in the area, but there's very few opportunities to express the pride," said Andrew Arifuzzaman, UTSC's chief strategy officer. "I think the Pan Am Games facility actually puts the area on the world stage."

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original source Globe & Mail


Firefighter training centre deals with burning issues

The Toronto Star writes on the city's Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute. Located on Greater Toronto Airport Authority lands, the institute will soon become the only accredited private fire-fighting college in Canada. The concrete, steel and glass complex was designed by architects Carol Kleinfeldt and Roman Mychajlowycz and is, according to Toronto Star architecture critic Christoper Hume "one of the most compelling examples of contemporary architecture to appear in some time."

"…the institute takes a pragmatic, even prosaic, program and turns it into something elegant, exciting yet supremely practical. The project is an architectural tour de force, a demonstration in concrete, steel and glass of how design can make the world a more interesting if not a better place."

"The main structure, which rises at an angle from the ground on one side, is gently sloped on the opposite to allow for an expansive green roof. The building is a really a series of buildings, long, thin and connected. The budget, $13 million, didn't allow for empty flourishes or deluxe materials. Many of the walls are concrete block. Small details such as oxygen tubing and light fixtures provide the occasion for decoration."

"Architecturally, the significance of the project goes beyond its utility. What matters most is process, not product. Of course, the facility serves its purpose, but it does so with a strong sense that various subtexts can also be addressed. That means anything from the landscape itself to the innate human desire to be engaged with one's surroundings."

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original source Toronto Star

Where classical tailoring meets streetwear

The Toronto Star writes on entrepreneur Gregory Allen, the founder of Gregory Allen Co. a successful Toronto-based men's clothing line. Allen, who launched his company in 2003, has made a name for himself by designing clothing that combines classic tailoring with a streetwear flair. Gregory Allen Co. is currently available in Toronto and Montreal but Allen has plans to expand his company both within Canada and internationally.

"Allen's customers vary widely in age. "When I started off it was anyone from 25 to 40," Allen says. Nowadays, his customers include both 18-year-olds who want custom-made shirts to match their sneakers and 50-year-olds who want to look hip."

"Regardless of their age, Allen's customers share a desire to be unique, the designer says. Clothing by the Gregory Allen Co. "is for an individual that likes to be different from the rest," the designer says. That's why Allen takes his time to ensure whatever he designs "is going to be something you wouldn't see regularly, something a little different from the norm."

"As his name grows, Allen's goals continue to evolve. A few years ago, his short-term goal was to get his pieces into a high-end store. With that accomplished, he is now focused on developing a plan for getting his pieces into boutiques across Canada."

"Eventually, he'd like to open Gregory Allen stores in other major Canadian cities. And his vision doesn't end at the border."

"My goal is to make a great international Canadian brand," he says. He hopes that like BlackBerry and outerwear company Canada Goose, Gregory Allen becomes a household name both in Canada and abroad."

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original source Toronto Star

London Times names Gladstone one of the "20 best hotels for art lovers"

The London Times has named Queen West's Gladstone Hotel one of the world's "20 best hotels for art lovers".

"Walls decorated so that you feel you are sleeping in a forest, a room that makes you believe you are in the middle of a deep blue ocean, a "Parlour in Twilight" bedroom with odd neon fuchsia lighting, and a suite decorated almost entirely with glass boxes . . . the Gladstone is full of avant-garde art."

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original source London Times

Richmond Street Housing Co-operative wins Pug Awards

The National Post writes on Toronto's Richmond Street Housing Co-operative, this year's winner of the Peoples Choice Awards for Architecture (PUG Awards) for Best Residential Building. A Toronto Community Housing Corporation development, the 11-storey, 85-unit building was designed by Teeple Architects Inc. and finished construction in 2009. Located just west of Church on Richmond the building is the first new housing co-operative to be built in the city in the last 20 years.

"Pug Awards winners were announced Wednesday night at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto residents voted for their most and least favourite buildings from a total of 41 nominees (34 residential and 7 commercial/institutional). Voting took place on the Pug Awards website during the Month of May. Voters could either "love it," "like it," or "hate it."

"For a design to be nominated the building had to be completed in 2009, in Toronto and be larger than 50,000 sq. feet."

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original source the National Post



Toronto district seeks audible harmony

A radio piece on Marketplace looks at innovative sound design in Toronto's Corso Italia neighbourhood. Thanks to the area's BIA, who attached speakers to neighbourhood lampposts, there is music playing along 6 blocks of St. Clair West from eight in the morning to 11 at night.

 An excerpt from the radio broadcast transcript:

"Bob Moon: The main drag in any urban neighborhood is its moneymaker. So naturally, those areas are always trying to figure out how to make their moneymaker make more money. Beautification is a big part of it -- planting flowers, picking up trash. And in one little neighborhood in Toronto, Canada -- an area called Corso Italia -- the beautification is of a more audible variety."

"Marketplace's Sean Cole just moved there, and he wanted us to hear the scenery."

"Sean Cole: A day or two after I first moved here, I was strolling down the main drag in Corso Italia, St. Clair Avenue West. It's a real old-timey, Mediterranean-y marketplace with cafes and bridal shops and a gelateria. And I thought to myself "Wow, somebody's really pumping the music in their car. You can hear it everywhere." And then I looked around and realized, that's not a car. It's a lamp post. In fact, every lamp post for about six blocks has a speaker attached to it, playing the same song. We're talking about half-a-mile of unsolicited tunes, from eight in the morning to 11 at night. And I couldn't help wondering, who's DJ-ing this little dance party? Turns out it's an initiative of the Corso Italia BIA, or "Business Improvement Area."

listen to radio broadcast/read full transcript here
original source Marketplace

Tenants flock to high-tech new office tower

As reported by the Toronto Star, Toronto's newest office, the $250-million 30-storey Telus House, officially opened last week. Located at the foot of York St., the new tower combines office space with quality of life amenities ranging a gourmet kitchen to rooftop garden patios to a prayer room. The project of developer Peter Menkes and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan and Menkes Development, Telus house has already leased more than half the building.

"When Peter Menkes purchased a plot of land five years ago on former railroad lands in downtown Toronto, it was a gamble. He envisioned an office development beside Union Station. But the centre of the financial universe remained on Bay Street, in the city's core. Attracting tenants to the waterfront was a risky move."

"It was, he said in an interview, "a leap of faith." The gamble paid off."

"They thought it was a little crazy, because no one was building anything back then," Menkes said in the futuristic open concept lobby of his largest tenant, telecommunications company Telus. The company has leased 460,000 square feet, more than half the building."

"The new building is a "spaceship" compared with the staid bricks and mortar of traditional office buildings in Toronto, said Menkes. As befitting a building housing a telecom company, the building is as sleek as an iPad and bursting with technology."

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original source the Toronto Star


Toronto's Design Exchange working towards a national design policy

The Globe & Mail looks at the Design Exchange, the Toronto-based organization "dedicated to the promotion, exhibition and preservation" of Canadian design. Active since the 1980s the Design Exchange works world-wide to promote Canadian designers. Now the organization is tackling a even bolder project: attempting to establish a formal design policy at the national level.

"The initiative, led by the Design Exchange, in partnership with universities, business associations and organizations across Canada for presentation to the federal government, would affect the way design services and the use of design are embodied throughout our economy and culture."

"Toronto has the third largest design industry in North America and that's a major export for Canada," Ms. Lewis [founding president of the Design Exchange] says. "And it's not just 'things' we've developed and are selling. It's services – such as interior design for department stores and hotels, industrial design, clothing design, computer and animation systems – that are used worldwide."

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original source the Globe & Mail

Best new fashion stores in Toronto, 2009

A story on Blog TO looking at the best new fashion retailers in the city, declared 2009 as "the year of the homegrown designer".

"Of the 15 best new fashion stores the city introduced last year just under half carried Canadian lines...Canadian designers can compete with the best of 'em, and it's wonderful to see that Toronto's shop owners trust that our city's fashion fiends are finally buying local and loving it".

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original source Blog TO

Toronto-based Montana Steele nominated for record 46 National Sales and Marketing Awards

Montana Steele, a Toronto-based advertising company, has received 46 National Sales and Marketing Award nominations from the National Association of Home Builders; more than any other North American company. The awards known as the "Nationals" will be presented in 2010 at the International Builders Show. Toronto's Toy Factory Lofts, Liberty Market Lofts, Festival Tower, Bohemian Embassy, and One Bedford are among some of the major developments Montana Steele are being recognized for.

"To receive 46 nominations from such an esteemed group as the NAHB is overwhelming," says Joe Latobesi, partner, Montana Steele. "We are very proud of the work we're doing in the Canadian real estate industry and we are thrilled to see that work being recognized by our peers in the US."

"Clearly, the sheer number of nominations we received - and the number of projects we were able to submit for consideration, demonstrates that our market is thriving and reinforces the growing realization that the Toronto real estate industry is setting the bar for architecture, design, marketing and development around the world."

read full story here.
original source Toronto Star


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