As the centre of business
and largest city in Canada, Toronto is home to number of architects and architectural firms. For those looking for an architect, the options range from individual designers who focus on small renovations to large firms building hundred-million dollar skyscrapers, and everything in between.
While Toronto has not always been considered a major player in the architectural world, it has still managed to attract its share of projects by world famous architects.
Frank Gehry was born in the city, and was behind the recent redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) renovation and expansion of the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street was the brainchild of Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, whose design beat out 50 other entrants in an international competition.
On the local level, there are many large architectural firms based in the city, often backed by big-name designers. These groups tend to focus their efforts on larger buildings and projects, such as skyscrapers, museums and municipal buildings.
Of these companies, several have made a name for themselves designing some of Toronto's iconic buildings and attractions.
Likely the most famous structure in the city, the CN Tower was designed in the 1970s by WZMH Architects and John Andrews Architects, who are based in Toronto and continue to take on projects here.
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB) is behind a number of new structures in the city, including the Gardiner Museum and the Bell Lightbox Theatre.
Zeidler Partnership, founded by German-Canadian architect Eberhard Zeidler, was the firm that designed The Eaton Centre and Ontario Place, as well as more recent buildings including the Queen's Quay Terminal project and the upcoming Trump Tower.
To get a sense of the best architectural work going on in Toronto, check out the Toronto Urban Design Awards, handed out by the city every two years (2011 is the next award year).
The categories include small, medium and large buildings in both the private and public context. The awards make an effort to highlight the architects behind the work, as well as provide a detailed explanation as to what made a certain project so good.
Moving down the scale from massive real estate
developments, there are a variety of choices of architects for both residential and commercial projects in the city.
Despite the unfortunate name, Superk├╝l Inc. is a respected company behind several new structures in the city including one that won a 2009 Toronto Urban Design Award for a "low-scale building."
Quadrangle Architects Limited has also won a TUDA, and they have particular expertise in the conversion of existing buildings, historical restorations and renovations.
These days, one of the important factors to consider when looking for an architect is the ability to incorporate green technology and energy-efficient materials.
Also known as "sustainable architecture," this can include geo-thermal exchange systems, grey water reuse systems, and solar hot water and electricity.
TO Architecture are two such companies with a focus on sustainable technologies. Green Home Builders Toronto is a good resource for browsing further architectural companies.
Regarding smaller-scale projects, there are plenty of excellent architects in the city, although some may find that with so many options the decision can become daunting.
There are a number of resources online, but when choosing an architect your best move is to speak with previous clients. Any reputable company should be more than willing to direct you to them.
Among the city's popular design firms for house and building renovations is Reno Coach, who pride themselves on walking clients through the entire design and construction process. ARCHITALCAN is another similarly well-reviewed Toronto company, as well as Memar Design.
Other resources for people looking at architects and designers include The Globe and Mail and the National Post. Both newspapers have extensive real estate sections that often discuss some of Toronto's best architects.
There are also many websites available, but as always be wary of what you read on the internet. Look for real estate and architectural sites with real feedback from clients, which can give readers a better perspective.
You can find more great architects and ideas through Totally Toronto.