Reina Condos’ all-female development team cuts new territory in Canada with women-focused design consultation

The country’s first all-female development team hosted a first-of-its-kind design consultation to get public insights on how to make condo living better for women. Workshop participants were predominantly female, though the public was welcome to attend and a number of men RSVP’ed to take part in the creative design engagement. Led by members of the Reina Condos development team and other female industry leaders, 140 industry professionals, community members and interested purchasers, spread across 14 tables, participated in a facilitated workshop.

L-R: Melissa Rotundo (Urban Capital); Vanessa Ferrone (Urban Capital); Sandra Stepanovic (Urban Capital); Fung Lee (PMA); Leslie Morton (PMA); Emily Reisman (Urban Strategies); Jane Almay (Bluescape); Taya Cook (Urban Capital); Sherry Larjani (Spotlight); Maxime Cudlip (Urban Strategies); Tatjana Trebic (Urban Strategies); Lisa WardMather (Urban Strategies); Tor McGlade (Quadrangle); Rachel Doner (Doner Turrin Art); Heather Rolleston (Quadrangle); Lisa Spensieri (Quadrangle); Stephanie Beaudoin (Urban Capital).

Each participant started by sharing pain-points of condo living with their table, then broke out into smaller teams to brainstorm creative solutions for the kind of amenities and designs they would want in their condos. Each table was then responsible for creating large boards with drawings, sketches and text to help illustrate their big ideas. During a cocktail reception, guests were invited to view all the boards and vote for their favourite design solutions using “Reina Money”.

Feedback ranged from how to engage multiple generations though amenity spaces to addressing security and vulnerability in areas such as elevators, zig-zagging corridors or late-night walks through parking garages. Accommodating the needs of parents with children by thinking about how families will interact within a unit was another big topic.

The solutions were just as insightful and poignant, with ideas around stroller storage, movable wall systems, cold and dry storage options and flexible spaces such as a party room that could be converted to a work space. Of the 650 issues raised throughout the workshop, Reina organizers were able to distill issues into 30 categories, the top 5 were:

  1. Layout (78)
  2. Storage (71)
  3. Soundproofing (59)
  4. Desire for Flexible Space (48)
  5. Greenery/Natural Elements (46)

Located along Etobicoke’s bustling artery, The Queensway, Reina Condos will be built on the now-demolished House of Lancaster site. The Reina development team, led by Taya Cook of Urban Capital and Sherry Larjani of Spotlight Development are disrupting the industry with their approach – as a response to heavily male-dominated industry, which results in condos developed mostly from a male perspective. Reina Condos is an opportunity to elevate the status of female talent in the industry and better capture the needs of women by developing a condo with its design, planning engineering and development teams, comprised entirely of women. With each step in the process, they’re proving they’ve got fresh ideas to pave the way.

“We’re embarking on this project to make a statement and create more visibility for women in the industry. To create great role models and inspire younger women. Real estate development is an exciting career but it’s not always top of mind for women,” says Larjani.

“We know that women have very strong purchasing power in the market. The truth is, what women want, men want too. To our knowledge, no one has ever led this kind of process before,” says Cook.

While the design consultation had a decidedly feminine edge, the event made it quite clear that there is a different way of doing things. Over the next few months the developers will be reviewing the collected feedback to inform the final design of Reina Condos. The project is expected to launch early next year.

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Photography by Eventgraphers