The OAA Celebrates Ontario Architecture with MPPs at Queen’s Park

The OAA held its fourth annual World Architecture Day celebration at Queen’s Park in December to accommodate the legislative calendar. The event allowed Members of Provincial Parliament learn more about why architecture matters and also see the year’s Queen’s Park Picks. (Click image to view slide show).

Toronto, ON -- The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) celebrated the 2019 World Architecture Day with its fourth annual visit to Queen's Park, hosting a reception with Members of Provincial Parliament in December. At the December 10 event, the OAA underscored the importance of architects and architecture while also discussing the profession’s contribution to Ontario’s economy and the roles that architects play in addressing big issues such as housing affordability and climate change. The event also marked the unveiling of this year’s Queen’s Park (QP) Picks—eight special buildings or structures chosen from a larger list of MPP nominations.

Traditionally, the QP Picks are announced on the first Monday in October, designated as World Architecture Day by the International Union of Architects (UIA). However, this year's parliamentary calendar meant the celebration was rescheduled for December.

More than 20 MPPs visited the exhibit and spoke with OAA representatives and architects associated with the QP Picks. MPPs Lindsey Park (Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General), Gurratan Singh (Critic, Attorney General) and Michael Schreiner (Green Party of Ontario Leader) all spoke at the event.

“We were so pleased to see MPPs come out and share their excitement about Ontario architecture,” says OAA President Kathleen Kurtin. “Architecture is a small profession, but an important one. I believe architects are ideally suited to make valuable, creative contributions to public conversations about important concerns like housing affordability and improving our buildings to be sustainable and resilient in a time of climate change, as well as helping ensure a vibrant economy in sectors like construction and tourism.”

Kurtin says she is looking forward to continuing a constructive working relationship with the Province, and specifically the Ministry of the Attorney General, regarding OAA initiatives such as improving the site plan approval process in Ontario.

Queen’s Park Picks
Earlier this year, the OAA invited Ontario MPPs to reflect on the province’s unique architectural legacy—both old and new—and nominate their favourite building within their riding. A record number of 40 submissions were received from across all political parties, representing areas from Windsor to Timmins to Ottawa. Eight of these projects were then selected for this year’s QP Picks exhibit, which highlights the diversity of architecture across the province.

Hamilton was the best-represented city on the list, with three buildings that all represent very different takes on the built form in both aesthetic and function. Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (redevelopment architect: Zeidler Partnership Architects in partnership with Invizij Architects Inc.) was nominated by MPP Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain) while Waterdown Public Library (Rounthwaite Dick & Hadley Architects Inc.) was nominated by MPP Donna Skelly (Flamborough—Glanbrook). Westinghouse HQ (rehabilitation architect: McCallum Sather Architects Inc.) was put forth by MPP Andrea Horwath (Hamilton Centre).

Toronto was represented by two very different selections. MPP Tom Rakocevic (Humber River–Black Creek) nominated York University’s new Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence (ZAS Architects Inc., 2017), which has a cloud-like façade and takes a student-centric approach to spatial design. Student clubs and academic services are given priority placement (and access to daylighting and views) at the main entrance of the building, with staff offices relegated to the central core.

The other selection, Ontario Place (Craig, Zeidler & Strong, 1969–1971), was nominated by MPP Chris Glover (Spadina–Fort York). The high-tech megastructure and landscape—a testament to an ambitious province not afraid of big ideas—includes modular pods and 90 acres of manmade lagoons and islands as well as the Cinesphere—a triodetic-dome structure housing the world’s first permanent Imax movie theatre, it was rehabilitated in 2011 by Gow Hastings Architects Inc.

In Guelph, The Metalworks—an ambitious 600-unit residential redevelopment located in one of the most significant historic sites in Guelph—had been nominated by MPP Mike Schreiner (Guelph). The eight-acre project is still ongoing, and will redefine the future of this formerly industrial site while preserving and honouring its past. Its team includes SRM Architects Inc. (heritage building) and Kirkor Architect + Planners.

Another Queen’s Park Pick is the new Aaniin Community Centre and Library in Markham, nominated by MPP Logan Kanapathi (Markham–Thornhill). Designed by Perkins & Will Canada Inc., the team behind it spent more than a year consulting with residents, city staff, librarians and community groups to shape the building’s diverse programming and aesthetics. More than just a community centre, Aaniin brings together several programs, spaces and activities to create a vibrant hub under an expressive wood roof. Apart from a public library and large gathering spaces, it also includes an aquatics centre, rock climbing wall, maker space, creation studios, digital training rooms, children’s play space, a sensory room designed with autistic children in mind and a sports centre with a gymnasium and indoor track.

The final QP Pick was not a building, but rather a bridge. Nominated by MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre), Ottawa’s Corktown Footbridge (DTAH Architects Limited) brings together structure, architecture and landscape in a way that created a true sense of place. This new local landmark serves as a critical connection between communities east and west of the Rideau Canal.

“This year’s selection of eight very different projects—from provincial landmarks to exciting new places for learning, living and playing—show how architecture helps create a sense of place, while also celebrating the culture and community of where they are built,” says Kurtin.

“Good architecture is inspiring and pragmatic. It has positive effects on our productivity, health and sense of well-being,” she adds. “It was great to speak with the MPPs about some of their favourite buildings and share some of the stories behind those projects.”

For more on the buildings chosen in 2019, and in years previous, visit

Additional photos of the event, further information on the projects or interview opportunities are available upon request.

About World Architecture Day
The International Union of Architects (UIA) established World Architecture Day in 1986. It is traditionally celebrated every year on the first Monday in October to coincide with the United Nations’ World Habitat Day. For 2019, the theme was “Housing for All.”

About the Ontario Association of Architects
The Ontario Association of Architects is a self-regulating organization under the Architects Act, a statute of the Government of Ontario. It is dedicated to promoting and increasing the knowledge, skill and proficiency of its members, and administering the Act, to serve and protect the public interest.

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