Graeme Stewart wins the 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize

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Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 3:30pm

Daniels Alumnus, Graeme Stewart (MArch, 2007) has received the 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize along with Thorncliffe Park community organizer and advocate Sabina Ali.

Stewart was recognized for his work in driving the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal program, which grew out of his thesis project as a student at the University of Toronto. “Tower Renewal" focuses on the many “towers in a park” that dot Toronto’s inner suburbs in droves.

“We’re unlike any city-region on the continent — our suburbs that were built right after the war are predominantly made up of high-rises,” Stewart told Spacing magazine, who became the stewards of the award in 2014. “For every single family home built in the 1960s, two apartment units were built in the suburbs.”

Today, these towers are home to a large number of new immigrants, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in often-isolating neighbourhoods.

Stewart’s thesis explored how Toronto’s aging, concrete high-rises could be retrofitted to be more energy efficient — resulting in energy savings that could potentially be reinvested back into the building or community. He also highlighted the opportunity to create more life at the base of such towers. Rezoning the neighbourhoods, he argued, would allow for additional shops, social service centres, and other gathering places — including community gardens and farmers markets — that would benefit local residents.

Stewart is now an Associate at ERA Architects and a founding director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, co-founded by members of ERA and planningAlliance. In 2007, he and Michael McClelland (BARC, 1981), co-edited the book Concrete Toronto: A Guide to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies, which features articles by a number of Daniels faculty members, including Pina Petricone, Larry Richards, Tom Bessai, Ted Kesik, Ivan Saleff, David Lieberman, Mary Lou Lobsinger, and George Baird.

Stewart was also a co-researcher for the Tower Renewal Guildelines, which were published in 2009 by Professors Ted Kesik and Ivan Saleff, with funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the City of Toronto, and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.

“Graeme is a brilliant person and a hard worker,” former Toronto mayor David Miller, told Spacing magazine. “Graeme took an idea from University of Toronto engineers that was about energy, worked on it through his Master’s thesis and took it to being about energy and neighbourhoods and design, and placed it in an international context. And when he’d done that, he came and presented it in my office. He’d done this brilliant work showing what was possible, and the layer we added was the connection that many of these towers are in neighbourhoods that are a priority for City investment.”

Academic Advisors on Stewart’s 2007 thesis included George Baird, who was his primary thesis advisor; Adrian Blackwel; Paul Hess; David Hulchanski; Ted Kesik; David Lieberman; Ivan Salef; Paolo Scrivano; and Kevin Weiss.

A profile of Stewart has been published on Spacing magazine’s website. The Jane Jacob’s Prize will be awarded to Stewart and Ali on Friday, March 28th at 5:30pm at 918 Bathurst. The ceremony will be followed by a release party for the Spring 2014 issue of Spacing in which both Stewart and Ali are featured.