Is Architecture Dead … in Toronto? Part 6

Is Architecture Dead … in Toronto? Part 6

Urban Issues

Is Architecture Dead … in Toronto? Part 6

1. The architecture of Survival is alive.

2. The architecture of Utility is alive. (Reactive Utilitarianism)

3. The architecture of comfort is dead. (For all intents and purposes)

4. The architecture of luxury is dead. (For all intents and purposes)

What are some of the steps that might bring life back to our design culture as it relates to architecture? Please keep in mind that point one and two don’t really require designers or architects because holistic considerations are secondary to immediate needs as well as idiosyncratic non-accountable reasoning. Aesthetics for example are entirely individual and subject to purely personal notions of what looks good or what is good. In European terms this type of building production is similar to the dark ages of the past.

What to do? A.K.A. Planting new strategies that may flourish in the future. I will mix practical, conceptual, and experiential.

1) [From: The Crisis of The African-American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power, by Melvin L. Mitchell, FAIA] when a student of architecture graduates they should be qualified to call themselves an architect with license and insurance for houses and small buildings.

If the architect wants to work on larger or complex buildings then like doctors they would need to qualify by apprenticing in that building-type process of making. This is similar to a doctor’s fellowship in psychiatry, neonatology, thoracic surgery etc. In other words the architect would intern in the firms that did hospitals, electrical plants, airports, municipal offices etc. Subsequent to a certain amount of time and some examinations (oral and or written) then they would qualify for to be Architects with a specialty in large or complex structures. So when people or client groups are choosing their architects they make sure to pick one with qualifications and experience in the area they need. Similar to a pregnant woman will go to an obstetrician and not an oncologist.

2) The insurance company will protect the architects and designers with the same aggressive stance as the Nurses Association, the Medical Association, the Police Association’s insurers do. The purpose of this aggressive defense is to remove vindictive and unnecessary liability lawsuits. This is not happening now and has led to a MASSIVE chill effect in the industry. Also known as Designing Not to Get Sued!

3) Architects, Designers and Engineers need AGENTS. Like real estate agents are used to sell a property, or like film/T.V. Production Designers have design agents, Architects, Designers, and Engineers need agents also. These agents would earn a percentage of the project value or some form of compensation to make it worthwhile.

4) Architecture students or pre-architecture students to have their work in the various construction trades included as part of their recognized and be accredited to their architectural education.

5) Architecture students or architecture students who have or are acting as a developer/owner, development corporation team member to have their actions count towards their degree or extended fellowship specialty.

6) All surplus property owned by the municipality, the province or federal government that has been vacant or uninhabited for 10 years or more must be offered to development groups on a 50 to 100 year leases. [From: The Crisis of The African-American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power, by Melvin L. Mitchell, FAIA]


Planning – also known as – democratic neighbourhood input with ethical leadership:

Once and official plan has been crafted by a municipality without community secondary plans in place for each neighbourhood, then the municipal planning department has to within 5 years or one and a half election cycles to complete a secondary plan for each neighbourhood, ward or precinct in the city that takes into account their specific trend, history, mood, economy, demographics and visions. Failure of planning to craft any secondary plan for a neighbourhood, ward or precinct would automatically remove municipal planning from the process of assessing neighbourhood appropriateness of a development. Further, the city would then transfer a portion of the planning budget to selected private planning firm along with the neighbourhood leadership to judge the proposed development(s). That process would continue until the development is completed or with the agreement of the neighbourhood and the planning firm that the ‘Now Existent’ secondary plan is sufficiently acceptable and in place to the community and the municipal government.


Planning – An official Plan can only be produced with 90% of the city’s geographic area having a secondary plan. A secondary plan for each neighbourhood, ward or precinct in the city that takes into account its specific trend, history, mood, economy, demographics, visions and the like.

8) All students of architecture must work in an office or in construction or in development in a cooperative manner conjoined with their at school education. These experiences will separate the wheat from the chaff sooner. These experiences will also help clarify or point to future directions where students are more likely to pour their passions.

9) Schools of architecture must select their students using a blind method similar to how certain orchestras choose their performers by their test results, their written essays and by the auditory performance of certain pieces. Their performances are done behind a blind or curtain in order that the judges cannot see their gender, race, religious gear, height, weight, and sexual orientation. Simply put the performers are to be judged on the quality of their music and skills.

This point is also a backhanded way of addressing the present corporate architecture and design culture where the content of your character and capabilities are NOT the primary reasons for being chosen, rather it is who you may know and what cultural biases you may be benefitting from. This does not make the best process or produce the best results but rather enshrines mediocrity.

10) More competitions. All public works – ALL PUBLIC WORKS – must be processed using the competitions format. If the competition winner is an architect for homes or small buildings, or a designer or student, then they are required to choose an architect of the appropriate designation – large or complex or whatever type – to partner with in the execution of the actual process.

11) Upon graduation the architect is partnered with a legal firm associated with the college or university or a designate to help craft and monitor contracts with clients and client groups at a substantially reduced rate for the first 5 years after graduation. Designing a good contract is key in anything. I still am not very good but I’m getting better after 20 some years.

12) As requirement – business education – that is to say the fundamentals of money movement and management. Running projects of various sizes, funding developments of various sizes, finding and appealing to capital investors etc.

I’m sure there will be a more items that I think of as well as many of you will think of – in fact should think of. Please write them down and send to me. I’m very interested in your thoughts.

We are all planting seeds to a future. I’d like to contribute to an inclusive, sustainable and beautiful one (present and future). Many of you will have other visions; let’s bring more of these visions into play to shape some good and better than we have now – Okay?