By Sean MacKay, Managing Editor, BuzzBuzzHome
A graduate student team from Cornell University took home the top prize at the 2018 Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition for its redevelopment vision for a large swath of land adjacent to the mouth of Toronto’s Don River.
The winning team was announced at ULI Toronto’s fourth annual Meet The Chiefs dinner on April 5, which also featured a keynote address from Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff. This year marked the first time in 16 years that a site outside the US was chosen for the prestigious competition.
Competition submissions were received from 130 teams representing nearly 60 universities in Canada and the U.S. Participants were asked to devise a mixed-use development scheme for the “BMW Site” as well as adjoining lands in Toronto’s East Don River neighbourhood in alignment with the City’s vision for reviving areas east of its historic core. Not only were the participants tasked with developing a plan to transform the neighbourhood into a thriving mixed-use community, they also had to ensure their schemes would prompt additional commercial, residential and retail development and improve connectivity between residential neighbourhoods in the city’s northeast to its southern commercial districts.
Cornell’s winning proposal boasted innovative environmentally sustainable community features while masterfully incorporating elements of the area’s historic character. It’s both a look toward the future, envisioning a vibrant 24-hour neighbourhood with an emphasis on Toronto’s creative industries, and a nod to the past, with plazas, tree-lined streets and industrial facades. The team’s submission was titled “Montage,” both a reference to the area’s film industry connections and, according to the project overview, an apt description of the master development plan composition.
“Akin to clipping together film scenes, Montage facilitates the collaboration of surrounding communities and creative thinkers. It promotes communication and innovation with venues for theatre and music, and spaces for the public,” it reads.
The Cornell team was made up of two Masters of Architecture students, two Masters of Real Estate students and a Joint Master of Regional Planning and Master of Real Estate student. For their winning submission, the team will receive $50,000 USD.
“Being able to create a change in a community – that is what this was about,” Cornell team leader Peter Romano said in a press release. “It takes an interdisciplinary team to do that, because none of us by ourselves knows all of what goes into it. Everyone brought something to the process, and it was an amazing experience.”
Gerald Hines, founder of the Hines real estate organization and a ULI leader, created the Hines Student Competition through a $3 million endowment to the ULI Foundation. He was in attendance as the 2018 competition winner was announced in Toronto.
“I look forward to this competition every year, and to see these bright young people who come forth with outstanding ideas and projects. They are the future of the real estate industry,” he said.
The competition jury included several major figures from the Toronto planning and development community: Paul Bedford, chairman, Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel and former Toronto Chief City Planner; Bruce Kuwabara, partner, KPMB Architects; Megan Torza, partner, DTAH; and Leslie Woo, chief planning and development officer, Metrolinx.
Congratulations to the Cornell University team for its competition win! ULI Toronto would also like to congratulate two teams from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a team from the University of Maryland for advancing to the final round and a team from the University of Toronto that received an honourable mention.