June 21, 2012
Diamond Schmitt big winners in 2012 Pug Awards
Diamond Schmitt Architects swept the commercial/institutional building category in the eighth annual Pug Awards, nabbing the top three spots in the people’s choice awards for architecture.
“It’s gratifying to receive such widespread acclaim for our buildings in the important arena of public opinion,” said Jack Diamond, principal with the Toronto-based architecture firm.
The Centre for Green Cities at Evergreen Brick Works took top prize in this category. This highly sustainable building at a former brick factory is the welcome centre for this 16-hectare repurposed industrial site.
The five-storey building provides interpretative, community classroom and activity space and preserves the original footprint, walls and features of the original structure, including the large brick press and foreman’s shed. It is a candidate to be the first LEED Platinum heritage building in Canada.
The runner-up is the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. Comprising two nine-storey buildings — one for research, the other for education — it represents a new model of healthcare design.
Informal ‘knowledge incubator’ lounges rise over a laneway that separates the two structures. An elegant tubular white steel and glass pedestrian bridge connects the institute with the hospital at the third level.
Honourable mention was accorded the Instructional Centre at University of Toronto Scarborough. This gateway facility to a new campus precinct has a welcoming pedestrian plaza, four-storey skylight atrium animated with balconies, a rooftop garden, a courtyard and a glass bridge, all of which bring natural light and landscape courts deep inside the building.
The 2012 Paul Oberman Award for excellence in adaptive re-use and heritage restoration went to the Shops of Summerhill. The multi-phase commercial project comprises a contemporary addition to a series of historical buildings. The design of the addition uses a material palette drawn from the surrounding buildings. However, masonry is treated in a contemporary fashion. Architects are AUDAXarchitecture inc. with Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd.
In the residential category, the top spot went to 83 Redpath, a condominium tower in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood.
Townhouse units along the street and a landscaped courtyard “seamlessly integrate” the building into its surroundings. Amenity spaces include an indoor fitness pavilion, a theatre room, a yoga studio/half-court basketball and guest suites. Architects are Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Architects Inc.
In all, 44 projects were nominated this year, a record number. Torontonians cast their votes online.
“The Pugs are creating a platform with which the public can compare buildings side by side and be extremely discriminating,” says Anna Simone, co-founder of the Pug Awards and a principal in Cecconi Simone, in a press release.
“We’re becoming more discerning about our buildings and the votes are showing it. We’re not accepting mediocrity.”
Competition organizers said the 2012 nominees and voting patterns show a persistence of trends from years past.
According to Gary Berman, co-founder of the Pugs and president of Tricon Capital Group, residential entries continue to be disappointing, as evidenced by the vast majority of nominees receiving negative vote counts.
Projects with a heritage component continue to outperform, Berman said, in a press release.
“By contrast, commercial/ institutional contenders remain in good standing with voters, earning more yeas than nays.”
To be eligible for a Pug Award nomination, developments must have been completed in 2011, be located within the City of Toronto and consist of an area of 50,000 square feet or greater or be considered noteworthy by the Pug Awards advisory board.
The 2012 Pug Awards were presented during a ceremony at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto.
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