Diamond Schmitt at the PUGs

The eighth annual PUG Awards presented last night in Toronto garnered Diamond Schmitt Architects an unprecedented sweep in the Commercial Building category, taking all three citations for three distinct building types. 

“It’s gratifying to receive such widespread acclaim for our buildings in the important arena of public opinion,” says Jack Diamond, principal with the Toronto-based architecture firm.

The Centre for Green Cities at Evergreen Brick Works took top prize. This highly sustainable building at a former brick factory is the welcome centre for this 16-hectare repurposed industrial site in downtown Toronto. 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 LKSKI 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 PUG Awards ranked 43 new buildings in the residential and commercial categories from best to worst as judged by the public by an on-line ballot. The PUGS are held annually in Toronto to draw attention to the city’s rapidly expanding urban fabric.

Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is based in Toronto with a practice that is worldwide. The firm works with universities, health care institutions, government and private clients and has completed significant master plans, medical and research facilities, performing arts venues, academic buildings, residential and commercial projects. Current commissions include the New Mariinsky opera house in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Sick Children’s Hospital Research Tower in Toronto and the Global Innovation Exchange Building at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.