Alex Bozikovic Contemplates the Future of Canadian Cities
Alex Bozikovic is The Globe and Mail’s architecture critic. He is the co-author of Toronto Architecture: A City Guide (McClelland and Stewart, 2017). He has won a National Magazine Award and has also written for design publications such as Azure, Blueprint, Dwell, Spacing and Wallpaper.
What do you see as opportunities for Toronto as we emerge out of COVID-19 to build a better city for all?
The pandemic has brought some uncomfortable facts to light: Toronto has a significant amount of economic inequality and systemic racism. That’s been apparent in where COVID-19 hit hardest. Design can’t fix these problems, but the professions of architecture, landscape and planning should be focused now on how to address them. That means integrated neighbourhoods, high-quality and robust public space, and more and better housing of all kinds.
Can you name 3 projects in Canada that you are excited about and why?
The University of Toronto’s 14-storey mass timber tower, by Patkau Architects with MJMA, will be technically groundbreaking and a visual landmark.
The Inuit Art Centre expansion in Winnipeg, opening this year, will be a fine piece of architecture and could transform that city’s and Canada’s relationship to the Inuit visual art traditions.
And the Portlands Flood Protection Project, under way now, will reshape the mouth of the Don River on the edge of Downtown Toronto. It’ll open up Toronto’s port lands to new development and public space — including deliver 200 acres of new parks led by Michael van Valkenburgh Associates.
The world as we know is changing, what do you think the future holds for design?
I’m skeptical that we will see dramatic change of any kind — especially in the hard economic times to come. But the design profession and the wider society will come out of the pandemic with a somewhat clearer view of what matters most.
Alex Bozikovic’s book “Toronto Architecture: A City Guide” available here