Shameless plug

The winners of the 2013 Toronto Urban Design Awards were announced earlier this month. From an impressive 125 submissions containing a variety of built projects, visions and master plans as well as student works, the jury selected 11 projects for Awards of Excellence, 16 for Awards of Merit and one for a Special Jury Award. Among them was our own building at 38 Lesmill Dr. by Toronto-based Building Arts Architects Inc., which won an Award of Merit in the Private Buildings in Context – Low Scale category.

The 21,000-sq.-ft. building was a complete redevelopment of the existing industrial site and structure. It was shaped primarily by sustainable design ambitions and access to outdoor spaces. 38 Lesmill now accommodates two office use tenants, Vincent Associates (head office) and Business Information Group (satellite office), owners of this magazine.

Located on the corner of a bend in the road, this project is highly visible. A new soft landscape front yard and courtyard is the face of site and entry to the building. Parking has been strategically located to the short sides of the site and concealed by vegetation. This reorganization has shifted the importance of the automobile and provided valuable outdoor spaces for employees.

A new courtyard entrance was carved out of the center of the building. This location would now require people to experience the new garden space that creates a buffer between the building and the roadway. This courtyard is now the hub of the workplace; it connects reception, staff cafeteria, meeting room and open office. The use of raw natural materials with refined crafted details has been designed to provide scale and warmth to the experience. Transparent and translucent materials were utilized to bring light deeper into the centre of the building and to provide visual connections to the new outdoor amenity spaces.

Existing industrial building features were retained and highlighted as features throughout the building. Sustainable design practices were implemented from the start of the design process of reusing this existing building and site. Site softening (removal of hard surface and addition of new vegetation) was implemented at the planning level. To promote staff use of bicycle transportation, racks and showers were provided. A direct hard surface sidewalk connects an existing TTC bus stop to the new main courtyard entrance. Other sustainable design features include operable windows for cross ventilation, high insulation levels, high performance ultra-clear glazing and lighting automation.

The complete 2013 award winners by category are:

Award of Excellence: Shangri-La / Momofuku Toronto
Award of Merit: Pottery Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing
Award of Merit: The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Private Buildings in Context – Low Scale
Award of Excellence: Mjölk House
Award of Excellence: Noble Street Studios
Award of Merit: 38 Lesmill
Award of Merit: Linea Bayview Townhomes
Award of Merit: Native Child and Family Life Centre

Private Buildings in Context – Mid Rise
Award of Excellence: CUBE Lofts
Award of Merit: Art Condominiums

Public Buildings in Context
Award of Excellence: 11 Division, Toronto Police Service
Award of Excellence: Mount Dennis Library Renovation
Award of Excellence: Regent Park Aquatic Centre
Award of Excellence: St. James Cathedral Centre
Award of Excellence: Victoria Park Bus Terminal Replacement
Award of Merit: Centre of Excellence for French-Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education
Award of Merit: George Brown College Waterfront Campus
Award of Merit: Maple Leaf Gardens
Award of Merit: North Toronto Collegiate Institute Redevelopment
Award of Merit: Ryerson Image Centre / School of Image Arts

Small Open Spaces
Award of Merit: Dundas Street West Parkettes

Large Places or Neighbourhood Designs
Award of Excellence: Evergreen Brick Works
Award of Merit: Sherbourne Common

Visions and Master Plans
Award of Excellence: John Street – Toronto’s Red Carpet
Award of Merit: The Green Line Vision

Student Projects
Award of Merit: An Architecture of Civility
Award of Merit: In Search of Place

Special Jury Award
Market 707