Landscape Architect Scott Torrance’s Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence for the West Toronto Railpath was unexpected, he said, admittedly still a little groggy from the previous night’s gala event at the Palais Royale on the lakeshore.
“It was a total surprise. It’s great that this project was honoured in this way,” said Torrance, Tuesday, Sept. 20. “It’s a tough award that’s given out every two years – it’s quite an honour.”
Torrance received the award of excellence for his design of the West Toronto Railpath between Cariboo Avenue and Dundas Street West in the small open spaces category while a honourable mention went to the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization – Podium Roof Garden at 100 Queen St. W.
“Nathan Phillips Square is also a fabulous project,” said Torrance. “They’re really too different to compare them to each other.”
The West Toronto Railpath is on the alignment of a former rail corridor, which has been transformed into a public linear space.
“It’s been completed for a couple of years,” said Torrance. “I think when we started the project and I was walking down the corridor, it struck me that it had a wonderful wild quality, which is a rare experience in Toronto. We saw hawks there, lots of insects and butterflies, beautiful views – we wanted to maintain that quality.”
Torrance is pleased the way the railpath functions, not only for cyclists, but on a daily basis for pedestrians and in-line skaters.
Monday night’s ceremony brought together members of the design and development community. From 129 submissions comprised of a variety of built projects, visions and master plans as well as student works. A jury selected 23 projects for the awards of excellence and honourable mentions, including the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge at 53 Strachan Ave. The project, which received excellence in the Visions and Master Plans category, was deemed too expensive and cancelled by the city. In the student projects category, an Award of Excellence went to Feed Toronto: Growing the Hydrofields.
University of Toronto graduate Drew Adams said Monday’s honour was “a big pat on the back” for him and his four colleagues, all of whom are landscape architects while Adams is an architect. The project’s main goal is to show how substantially the hydro fields could be transformed, he said.
Hydrofields are “just such a vast area, an ubiquitous element in North American cityscape, said Adams.
This year’s jury, a collection of renowned design professionals, included Christine Abe, principal architect at the MBTW Group; Ronji Borooah, town architect and head of urban design in the town of Markham; Ralph Giannone, founding partner at Giannone Petricone Associates Inc.; John Lorinc, a journalist specializing in urban affairs, municipal politics, development and public space and Greg Smallenberg, founding partner of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg.
“The number and quality of this year’s nominated projects demonstrates a high level of sophistication and excellence in the design and construction of structures throughout the city,” said Etobicoke Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of the Planning and Growth Management committee, in a statement. “This enhances the livability, vibrancy and aesthetics of Toronto. Toronto can proudly boast of having one of the most talented pools of practicing design professionals, and sophisticated development companies anywhere in the world.”
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