Time again for the good, the bad & the pugly
By Peter Kuitenbrouwer, National Post
It’s that time of the year again, folks. Time for the great unwashed Toronto public to get up on its hind legs and vote for the good, the bad and the downright pugly.
On Saturday voting begins for the Pug Awards. Through the month of May, anyone can log on to pugawards.com and vote three times, designating which building completed in 2009 they “love,” “like,” or “hate.”
On Thursday, Cecconi Simone, the interior design firm on Dundas Street West that founded the awards, gave the Post a sneak preview of the contenders. The competition is fierce: 34 residential buildings and seven commercial buildings are vying for the Pug Trophy.
In past years condos have dominated the awards, so it is exciting this year to see three new office towers face off in the commercial class: the 51-storey Bay-Adelaide Centre, the 43-storey RBC Centre and the 30-storey Telus Tower. Each has its strength: the Bay-Adelaide has a lovely, airy lobby and the RBC Centre breaks new ground as a skyscraper with windows that tenants can actually open.
But my own vote goes to the Telus building, specifically for designing its connection to the PATH pedestrian network at grade, so that anyone passing through enjoys 10-metre ceilings and dramatic work by Toronto artist Michael Awad.
Anna Simone, co-creator of the Pug Awards, expects a whopping 50,000 to 60,000 people to cast a vote this year, a huge increase from about 10,000 votes the first year.
“It really is the peoples’ choice,” she says. “It’s not edited in any way. People do vote. It’s very honest and very true.”
Ms. Simone suggests that the Pug Awards encourage architects to give us quality work. “It’s the police dog of our city,” she says. “The more awareness there is the more accountable people are. And then they are more selective in terms of what they develop in our city.”
The group is branching out, organizing two Pug Talks this year. The first session, next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Bata Shoe Museum, will feature Councillor Adam Vaughan (Trinity-Spadina), Marianne McKenna from KPMB Architects, Elyse Parker of the City of Toronto, Gary Switzer of MOD Developments Inc., and Ron Palmer of the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area, discussing Toronto’s troubled (my word) public realm.
The Pug Awards also plans a mayoral debate June 16 at the reconceived Art Gallery of Ontario (winner of a Pug Award as favourite building last year). In addition, 30 Grade 8 students are squaring off in a “Pug Ed” design competition, with a $4,000 bursary going to the best redevelopment proposal.
“We want to bring awareness to our youth,” Ms. Simone says. “If they can start to learn the vocabulary of design, it can only enhance the future of our city.”