On November 24th, eager competitors and curious onlookers gathered at Alderlea, a recently refurbished heritage mansion turned event hall in Brampton, to find out the result of ULI Toronto’s Second Annual Urban Ideas Competition. The competition featured 20 entries which vied to provide the most compelling scheme to revitalize Brampton’s City Centre.
In charge of selecting the best entries was a jury of five: Matthew Blackett of Spacing, Don Naylor of Don Naylor + Associates Landscape Architects, Jeff Casello of the Waterloo Planning School, Joe Cordiano of Cityzen Development Group, and John Potter of Metrolinx.
The evening opened with hors d’oeuvres and a chance to view the entries before segueing into the main event. Richard Joy, Executive Director of ULI Toronto, offered context to the challenge the competitors had been posed by explaining that while Toronto was the North American leader in arresting urban sprawl it was also the second worst offender in commute times, implying that suburbs like Brampton were key places to watch for change in this dynamic. He went on to describe Brampton as a growing transit hub with a rich community heritage.
Marilyn Ball, Acting Mayor of Brampton, echoed these sentiments and provided a challenge to the crowd, asking them to consider how Brampton might develop to holistically integrate and meet the needs of an aging population of immigrants who wanted easy access to shopping, transit, and cultural facilities.
With the speeches done, Sean Lawrence, Co-Chair for ULI Connect, began a Q & A session with the jury, challenging them to describe the best ideas to come out of the competition without revealing any of the winners. The jury was forthcoming with their opinions and several central themes emerged:
1. Vibrancy: the desire for activity at all hours of the day, or as close to it as possible.
2. Granular Thinking: Designing on a smaller scale in order to create vibrancy on a larger scale.
3. Decreasing Space for Cars: Giving more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport.
4. Catalysts: Using universities and transit hubs to draw young people to a space and create more economic vitality.
The jury also discussed how the most compelling entries had been holistic and rigorous and that the competition was about ideas over graphic ability.
With that, the winners were announced:
People’s Choice Award – The University of Waterloo’s Anand Balram, Erin Smith, Shikha Jagwani, Vitu Mhango, Rebekah Lien, & Cynthia Chiu Chen
Honourable Mention, Student Category – The University of Toronto’s Zhiyu Liu, Zhengyan Jin, and Weiming Shi
First Place, Student Category – The University of Waterloo’s Anand Balram, Erin Smith, Shikha Jagwani, Vitu Mhango, Rebekah Lien, and Cynthia Chiu Chen
Honourable Mention, Overall Category – DDA’s Raj Patel and Dev Patel
Second Place Overall Category – Stantec’s Michael Votruba and Alfredo Landaeta
First Place, Overall Category – PLURAL’s Parvathi Nampoothiri, Ilja Green, and Mahesh Iyer
The evening finished with closing statements from ULI Connect Co-Chair Mackenzie Keast and an invitation for everyone to take part in ULI Toronto’s Annual Fireside Chat, to be held in the New Year.
All entries for the Urban Ideas Competition can be viewed on ULI Toronto’s website or Facebook page. The winning submissions can also be viewed at Brampton City Hall until December 4th.