The Ottawa Urban Design Awards is a biennial awards program that celebrates projects in the City of Ottawa that achieve urban design excellence.
In our ninth instalment of the program, the 2021 awards will honour exceptional projects in Ottawa completed between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2021.
Winners of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the National Urban Design Awards competition in 2022. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 awards will be online only.
2021 Award Winners
Urban Infill Low-Rise
Bayswater Townhomes – Award of Excellence
Located in the Hintonburg neighbourhood, Bayswater Townhomes are a strong example of the City’s newly permitted back-to-back, semi-detached dwellings. This development consists of a pair of townhomes, with two units facing Bayswater and two units facing the rear laneway. Entrances to the units facing the laneway are accessed through a shared pathway that runs between the two homes. The exterior finishes, lighting and colour palette reflect the historical character of the neighbourhood in a contemporary way. Large windows face the street and a patio on the third floor offers outdoor amenity space. Mature vegetation was also retained on the site.
The Jury commended this project’s ability to achieve increased density without compromise to the streetscape or neighbourhood character. The proportions and design of the building were described as handsome and an example of good architecture and urban design. The building succeeds from both the street frontage and lane condition.
Steve Clifford; Hobin Architecture
Barry Hobin; Hobin Architecture
Rheal Labelle; Hobin Architecture
William Ritcey; Hobin Architecture
Jennifer Adams; Hobin Architecture
Eileen Mlikan; Larchwood Urban Developments
Avondale – Award of Merit
Avondale is a detached home located on a corner lot at the intersection of Golden Avenue and Avondale Avenue in the Westboro neighbourhood. Outdoor living zones wrap around the corner of the home and a private courtyard features a beautiful space for outdoor dining. White stucco and light grey metal roofing continue around the entire house, punctuated by large windows and glass railings. The design of the building is elevated by the preservation of mature trees on the site.
This project is celebrated for its careful treatment of the corner lot condition and its ability to resolve the challenging site conditions. The Jury appreciated that the development responds to both street frontages with care and delicacy and does not turn its back to the street on either side. Design elements such as the cutout with the picnic table contribute to a handsome, thoughtful project.
Samantha Schneider; Christopher Simmonds Architect Inc.
Christopher Simmonds; Christopher Simmonds Architect Inc.
Andrew Levitan; Larco Homes
Public Places and Civic Spaces
Elgin Street Renewal & Boushey Square Transformation – Award of Merit
The transformation of Elgin Street and Boushey Square through its redesign and reconstruction is a celebrated street renewal project led by the City of Ottawa. The project renewed a 1.2km long mainstreet located in the heart of downtown. The original driver for the project was the need to update Elgin’s aging underground infrastructure. The City used this opportunity make street improvements including sidewalk widenings, creating four raised intersections, planting new trees, installing planters, adding public art, and creating a new public square.
The Jury recognized the project as a precedent setting street renewal project in Ottawa and as a model for rediscovering how streets may be transformed beyond the engineering standards of the past. The focus on prioritizing people over cars and design for accessibility was commended. As one Juror reflected, “this is the future of our cities. […] This project emphasizes not only the importance of accessibility, but also people enjoying their city”.
Carina Duclos; City of Ottawa
Danny Palermo; City of Ottawa
Tara Blasioli; City of Ottawa
Ronald Clarke; Parsons
Mike Keating; Parsons
David Leinster; The Planning Partnership
Pangishimo Park - Award of Merit
Pangishimo is the Algonquin Anishinaabe word for ‘sunset’ – its name and character relate to its location on the western point of Chaudière Island along the Ottawa River. The park is part of the Zibi development and was designed in tandem with its sister park, Mokaham or ‘sunrise’ Park, proposed on the eastern shore of the island. Pangishimo Park features a wide, accessible boardwalk with lounge seating, natural climbing structures, and native species plantings. The park is the result of a five-year collaborative design process with Algonquin community members, designers, and developers.
The Jury appreciated the story and inspiration for the park design as it relates to the history and context of Chaudière Falls. The use of natural materials, an informal play structure and the architectural aesthetic of the park were commended in the Jury’s commentary. The importance of consultation and collaboration with the Algonquin nations was also recognized.
Shannon Card; CSW Landscape Architects Ltd
Anne-Claude Schellenberg; CSW Landscape Architects Ltd
Patrick Gauvreau; CSW Landscape Architects Ltd
Genius Loci – Award of Merit
Genius Loci is a public art installation located at the corner of Wellington Street West and Parkdale Avenue in the Hintonburg neighbourhood. The design playfully scatters ten bright orange letters that spell the word ‘Hintonburg’. The art was commissioned by the Wellington West Business Improvement Area with the goal of “transforming the corner from its previous haphazard state into a beautiful, usable public space for the community”.
The Jury described Genius Loci as a “lovely, joyful, element of public art” that results in a major visual improvement to this street corner, as much as it may make it a little less easily navigated. The colourful installation was well liked by the Jury and it was noted that the project succeeds in all seasons, for example the bright orange contrasts beautifully with the snow in winter months.
Colizza Bruni Architecture Inc
Studio Red Landscape Architecture Inc
Ottawa Community Housing
Wellington West BIA
Hintonburg Community Association
Threatened Rhinos of Bayswater – Award of Merit
Re-imagining shapeless patches of anti-graffiti paint on an underpass as running rhinoceroses, Threatened Rhinos of Bayswater is a bold and poignant piece of graffiti art, initiated and implemented by artist Christopher Griffin. Painted, removed, and repainted, the piece not only demonstrates the role a community member can play as a steward of public space, but also sheds light on the challenges and shortcomings of government regulation of the public realm. While maintenance of public assets is both necessary and needed, the piece highlights how regulation can also have the unintended consequence of stifling creativity, public expression, civic engagement, and beautification of otherwise dull and unwelcoming spaces. While controversial, Threatened Rhinos of Bayswater is the starting point of an uncomfortable conversation on a much broader and complex issue, which is often the catalyst needed to push urban design forward.
Beautiful in its rawness and a deft use of anti-graffiti paint patches, the Jury supported the fun and inspiring nature of this installation and commended the artist on the care shown towards the beautification of the public realm. The parallels drawn between the continual removal of the art piece and the hunting of the Northern White Rhino to the point of near extinction are powerful. “Does it add to the public realm?”, one jury member pondered, “One-hundred per cent – it can be quite impactful.”
Christopher Griffin; Christopher Griffin Art Studio Inc.
1770 Heatherington Road – Award of Merit
1770 Heatherington Road presents a conceptual design for the redevelopment of an empty parcel of land in the Heatherington neighbourhood. The project envisions an affordable housing development that is community-centred and provides a variety of amenities. Urban design features include a central public park, mixed-use buildings, a youth centre, a medical clinic, and a job centre.
The Jury recognized the challenge of designing a project of this scale for a student and appreciated the intent of the design. Highlights of the proposal included the emphasis on mixed-use programming, focus on community services and sensitivity to the local community. The Jury appreciated the small vignettes and quality of graphic representation of the proposal.
Marco Chow; University of Waterloo Architecture
Community Partnership Award
Strata of Belonging – Community Partnership Award
Strata of Belonging is a collection of five art installations, creating a sculpture trail along Elgin Street, which was implemented as a part of the Elgin Street Renewal Project. Through an exceptionally unique means of fostering civic engagement, the artist and their team solicited participation from over fifty members of the community to have their most playful expressions captured photographically and through casting. New technologies such as scanning, modeling and 3D printing were then used to transfer the most expressive cast expressions to bronze and aluminum sculptures. For the participants, being able to participate in the creation of a work of public art that they will be able interact with on a daily basis, strengthened their sense of belonging in the neighbourhood.
Strata of Belonging is celebrated for its focus on public engagement and community partnership in achieving modern and contemporary public art. The outreach process was successful in connecting with the community in a fun and meaningful way and took a unique approach to getting people involved in the shaping of their built environment. The end product is quite literally the “embodiment of consultation”.
Hannah Kingscote; City of Ottawa
Tara Blasioli; City of Ottawa
Francis Montillaud; Artist
Melissa Black; City of Ottawa
Special Jury Award of Merit
Ingenium Centre – Special Jury Award of Merit
Ingenium Centre is a purpose-built conservation facility, built to house 1.2 million cultural artifacts from three of Canada’s national museums. It offers state-of-the-art facilities for research, conservation, curation, and collaboration. The playful architecture of the building is arranged as two bars along a central spine, the north facade clad in blue soundwave patterns and the south accented by green, blue, and red fins, each representing a constituent Museum, which change colour based on the viewer’s angle of sight. The building is animated at grade with exhibition display cases and the pedestrian experience is punctuated by an entrance plaza, on which historic trains can be rolled into public view for cultural and educational events.
Ingenium Centre is selected as a winner of a Special Jury Award of merit, noting its unique civic function and distinct nature from all other submissions. The Jury recognized the Ingenium Centre as an accomplished building that creates a successful edge and contrast to the Science and Technology Museum. The public plaza, use of colour and response to the industrial context are notable.
* Due to a conflict of interest, Jury Member Donald Schmitt recused himself from reviewing and commenting on this submission.
Duncan Higgins; Diamond Schmitt Architects
Donald Schmitt; Diamond Schmitt Architects
Peggy Theodore; Diamond Schmitt Architects
Maurizio Martignago; KWC Architects Inc
Nathalie Sanschagrin; DTAH
Judging and Jury Members
Submissions for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards will be juried in September, 2021 by an independent panel of urban design experts. The applicant of the winning project will be notified in October, 2021 by email. It is the responsibility of the winning applicant to inform all team members of their winning project, including the landowner.
An Award of Excellence may be presented in each category to an outstanding project. Winning projects of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the National Urban Design Awards competition in 2022.
A Certificate of Merit may also be presented in each category of projects deserving recognition. More than one Certificate of Merit can be awarded in each category.
A Community Partner Award of Merit may be presented for an award-winning project from any category that best exemplifies the positive outcome of collaboration efforts between the project team and the community. The winning project will be a public or private project of any scale that highlights the critical role of establishing a strong dialogue between all stakeholders and fostering exceptional cooperation, partnership, and/or engagement in achieving good urban form, design excellence, and context sensitivity.
Important Note: The number and type of award given is at the discretion of the jury and their decision is final. The jury has the right not to present awards in every category and can reallocate an entry into another category (instead of the one that it was submitted in) if deemed appropriate.
BDes, MArch, OAA, MRAIC, LEED AP
Partner, Two Row Architect
Matthew is Mohawk, Wolf clan, from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. Receiving his Masters of Architecture from the University of Calgary and his Bachelor of Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design, his background continues to have a significant impact on his work. Practicing architecture for 14 years at Two Row Architect, located on Six Nations, he currently oversees design and development for the firm. Their core focus is on Indigenous design and architecture, designing buildings, landscapes, and installations, on and off-reserve located all over Turtle Island.
Matthew’s focus towards sustainability is on regenerative and restorative design - encompassing ecological, cultural, and economic principles. His work pushes the concepts of integrated landscape, Universal Inclusivity, food equity, the importance of water, and place-keeping for all species, including humans. Matthew’s research includes Indigenous history in architecture of Northern & Middle America and the realignment of western ideology towards historic sustainable technologies for the contemporary North American climate.
Currently teaching at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, and critiquing at the University of Toronto, he believes that giving back and encouraging younger generations is key to moving Indigenous ways of thinking about design and architecture forward. Matthew has lectured across Canada, including most recently, at the Architecture Now Series at the University of Lethbridge. Art being in his blood, he is proud to be a Director on the Board for Artscape Toronto Inc. and a member of Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel.
BES, B.Arch, MDesS, OAA, FRAIC
With over 20 years of experience, Meg is widely respected within Canada’s broader architecture and real estate community, and is known for her formidable design acumen, rigorous diligence, hands-on approach, and warm and honest communication style. Alongside work-life partner Andre D’Elia, she helms Superkül’s thriving practice and oversees the firm’s residential, academic, institutional, commercial and mixed-use projects.
As an advocate, educator, and mentor, Meg plays a strong leadership role both in and beyond the design community. She has taught at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto since 2001 and is a regular visiting lecturer and critic at architecture schools across North America. Meg also contributes her expertise in volunteer and board positions, including as past Chair of the Toronto Society of Architects and current Co-Chair of the City of Toronto Design Review Panel, as well as on the Metrolinx Hamilton LRT Design Excellence Conformance Review Panel and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design Alumni Council. Since 2015, Meg has been a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Toronto Schools as well as the Steering Committee for the renewal of the school campus on Bloor Street.
Meg received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo, winning the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and holds a Master in Design Studies from Harvard University. She is a registered architect with the Ontario Association of Architects and was made a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 2015. In 2020, Meg received the H.J. Crawford Award from the University of Toronto Schools in recognition of her contributions to the advancement of the school through commitment, dedication and volunteerism, and a lifetime of significant achievements in contributing to greater society.
CM, OAA, FRAIC, AIA
Principal, Diamond Schmitt
Don Schmitt is a principal of Diamond Schmitt and a registered architect across Canada and the United States. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Don has several decades of experience in the planning, programming and design of award-winning architecture.
A Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and a member of the American Institute of Architects, Mr. Schmitt and his firm have won over 400 design awards including seven Governor General’s Awards.
Don’s recent notable projects in Ottawa include the transformation of the National Arts Centre, the Senate of Canada Building and the Conservation and Collection Centre for the Museum of Science and Technology. His work also includes the Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at Sick Children’s Hospital, Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University, Geffen Hall at Lincoln Centre in New York City and the compact, mixed-use, transit connected and pedestrian oriented SmartCentres Place in Vaughan, at 20 million square feet, one of North America’s most significant new urban neighbourhoods.
Don is the Founding Chair of the Public Art Commission for the City of Toronto for which he was awarded the Civic Medal. He was a member of the Advisory Committee on Planning Design and Real Estate for the National Capital Commission in Ottawa for 12 years (2004 - 2016) and a member of the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel (2006-2016) He is currently a member of the University of Toronto Design Review Panel. Don is a member of the Canadian Arts Foundation Advisory Committee and is an academian with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Donald Schmitt is a Member of the Order of Canada.