ULI Toronto News

Toronto’s West Don Lands Master-Plan Community Wins 2017-2018 ULI Global Awards of Excellence











TORONTO (Nov. 17, 2017) – A major Toronto redevelopment project has been recognized on the international stage, alongside projects from the United States, Japan, Spain and Singapore, for achieving a high standard of excellence in the development industry.

West Don Lands, an industrial area currently being redeveloped as a mixed-use neighbourhood in Toronto’s downtown east end, was named one of thirteen winners in the Urban Land Institute’s 2017- 2018 ULI Global Awards for Excellence.

It was selected by an international jury made up of ULI members from a wide range of professional backgrounds who are recognized as leaders in their fields. According to ULI, while architecture and design are key components for all developments that have been recognized, winners are selected based on a broader set of criteria encompassing the “full development process of a project.”

“The West Don Lands is Toronto urbanism at its best,” says ULI Toronto Executive Director Richard Joy. “Its evolution is a global showcase of city building that confirms our city’s reputation as a place that’s for and about the people it serves.”

Hailed by local media for “changing the face of Toronto,” the West Don Lands is a huge revitalization effort led by Waterfront Toronto that has spanned two decades. The 80-acre site features robust and inventive public spaces, including Corktown Common and Underpass Park. Condominium residences developed by Dream Unlimited and Kilmer Group served as the Athletes’ Village when Toronto hosted the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. It then officially opened as the Canary District following the Games with market rate and affordable housing units. Urban Capital’s River City condo and townhouse community occupies the northeastern section of the massive site, with two architecturally distinct phases already complete and a third currently under construction.

“The West Don Lands continues to receive international recognition not only for its thoughtful urban design but also its emphasis on world class architecture. It’s a new community that isn’t afraid to distinguish itself from more established neighbourhoods of the city,” says Paul Stevens, Principal at ZAS Architects, the firm that, along with Saucier + Perrotte Architects, designed the first phase of River City.

In all, the completed West Don Lands will boast approximately 6,000 new residential units. The area will also feature an impeccably crafted mix of retail designed by LiveWorkLearnPlay and has been characterized as a “transit-first community,” with a new streetcar line serving the neighbourhood.

“What is particularly special about the West Don Lands is how gracefully it balances the challenges of delivering a highly liveable community with advanced technology, green space and public realm excellence, housing affordability, arts and culture, education, employment and mobility. It is a model of the live, work, learn, play ideal,” says ULI Toronto’s Joy.

The international jury recognized the West Don Lands as an exemplary public-private partnership that demonstrated best practices that can be replicated in urban environments around the globe. It was lauded for its complexity with the involvement of multiple developers and designers, utilization of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games as an early catalyst to development and creative use of the area context to develop amenities and foster cultural engagement.

ULI initiated the Awards for Excellence program in 1979 and, in 2012, began recognizing development projects from around the world in a single competition rather than separate awards for different regions. As a winner, the West Don Lands will receive a jewel-quality cube trophy with the ULI jury’s statement about the project engraved on it.

ULI Toronto wishes to congratulate all those involved with the planning, development and continued success of the West Don Lands for earning this prestigious award.


For more information, interviews or images please contact:
Alexandra Rybak
ULI Toronto

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 38,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. In Canada, the Urban Land Institute is an active and growing organization. With over 2,500 members across the country, Canada’s first ULI District Council was established in Toronto in 2005 and a second District Council exists in British Columbia. Followed by a third District Council in Calgary. ULI Toronto has over 1,500 members in Toronto.

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