Middle City Passages: Ville en Mouvement Toronto



The multi-billion dollar investment in the expansion and improvement of Toronto’s public transport system, including along portions of Eglinton, Finch and Sheppard Avenues, provides an opportunity to combine a series of small, high-impact interventions with major infrastructure projects.

The Sheppard East Light Rail Transit (LRT) line is part of this investment and aligned with municipal plans that call for growth that is less dependent upon the automobile. New development is directed to areas well-served by public transit, efficiently using existing infrastructure, and, wherever possible, making transit, cycling, and walking more attractive alternatives.

The Middle City Passages Toronto competition is an opportunity to investigate how the new Sheppard East LRT line’s infrastructure can interweave with existing local, small-scale pedestrian networks. It is also a chance to test how forging connections between local paths and to transit infrastructure can further support development and improve local living conditions. Can the design of new types of passages aid in producing a more urban condition in suburban Toronto?

Click here to download our press release on the competition launch.

Organized by Metrolinx and the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, in partnership with the Municipality and the French Institute of Toronto, within the IVM international programme “Passages, transitional spaces for the 21st century."

Middle City Passages Symposium — PROGRAM
Friday, March 6, 2015

All sessions will take place at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, 230 College Street, Room 103


12:30pm - Metrolinx Presentation, Leslie Woo
12:45pm - IVM Presentation, Marcel Smets
1:00pm - Passages Overview, Maarten Van Acker
1:15pm - Remarks and Conclusion, Richard Sommer


3:00pm - Welcome, Richard Sommer
3:15pm - Passages, Lecture by Marcel Smets
4:15pm - Break
4:30pm - Roundtable - introduction by Paul Hess, moderated by Richard Sommer - with Pierre Alain Trévelo, Harold Madi, Marcel Smets, and Leslie Woo
6:15pm - Break
6:30pm - Keynote Speaker - Pierre Alain Trévelo
7:30pm - Conclusion, Richard Sommer


Leslie Woo, an architect and urban planner by profession, has a unique background in public policy, planning and development, civic engagement and project delivery, Leslie is a capable executive management expert, able to effectively establish public policy, and prioritize resources in various economic climates and differing approval cycles.

Leslie has extensive executive experience in maintaining clear communication with a Board of Directors, providing advice for both detailed tactics and strategic outlook.  She has been part of numerous executive teams responsible for corporate services. She has extensive experience in corporate change management and organization transformation.

At both the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto she was a key negotiator with senior municipal and political officials for major redevelopment initiatives such as the Toronto Waterfront and the Portlands. Leslie also led the provincially legislated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe from discovery through delivery.

Leslie is an Advisory Board member with the Urban Land Institute, Association of Canada’s Urban Transportation Council, the American Planning Association, the Scientific and Strategy Council of the Institut pour la ville en mouvement, and a retired member of the Ontario Association of Architects. In her current volunteer position as Vice Chair of the YMCA GTA, she is part of the oversight team for an $11.3M investment portfolio and the 10 in 10 campaign - raising $10M for 10 new Ys in the GTA.


Maarten Van Acker is an engineer-architect and urban planner, member of the Scientific Council of IVM. He is a professor of urbanism at the Faculty of Design Sciences at the University of Antwerp,

Belgium. His research focuses on the urban integration of infrastructure projects. He is a member of the Urban Studies Institute and the Research Group for Urban Development. He serves as a consultant to the editorial board of RUIMTE, the City Commission for Urban Planning of Antwerp and several architecture and urban planning offices. He holds a PhD for his research on the impact of infrastructure design on the urbanization of Belgium since the 19th century. At PARSONS –The New School for Design in New York Maarten conducted his post-doctoral research on urban infrastructures and taught in the Urban Ecologies design studio.


Marcel Smets is an architect and urban planner, president of the Scientific and Orientation council of IVM. He was a professor of urbanism at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He has written articles of architectural criticism for publications such as Archis, Topos, Lotus, and Casabella, and has served as a jury member for many competitions. He was a founder member of ILAUD and visiting professor at both the University of Thessalonka and Harvard University's GSD. He was the chief developer of the transformation of the area around Leuven station, and for town planning projects, which include Antwerp city center, Hoeilaart, Turnhout, Rouen, Genoa, and Conegliano. He was the Flemish Government architect. He is today in charge of the urban project of l’île de Nantes in France.


Richard Sommer is the Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, and an architect and urbanist with over twenty years experience as a practitioner, educator, and theorist. Sommer’s design practice, research, and writing take the complex physical geography, culture, technology, politics, and historiography of the contemporary city as a starting point for creating a synthetic, cosmopolitan architecture. In addition to his focus on design in the context of broad trends in urbanization, Sommer has been engaged in a long-term, multi-faceted research project examining the transformation of monument making in societies aspiring towards democracy. His diverse professional and academic activity includes serving from 2005 to 2010 as the O’Hare Chair of Design and Development and as a Visiting American Scholar at the University of Ulster, Belfast. Before being appointed Dean at the University of Toronto in 2009, Sommer was the Director of Urban Design Programs and a member of the Design Faculty at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design for a decade. He has held many other distinguished appointments, including serving as Scholar-in-Residence at the California College of the Arts from 1995-98 and as a Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1993-95.


Paul Hess is an Associate Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His teaching and research focus is on pedestrian environments and design, planning for activity transportation modes, and streets as public space. Dr. Hess has done research on how built environments influence pedestrian activity for more than 15 years with his early work pioneering measures of pedestrian network connectivity and route-directness now in common use. A recent study with Professor Beth Moore Milroy examined institutional barriers to improving street design for pedestrians. Current projects include a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded project exploring “walkability” in the inner suburbs and how residents without access to cars negotiate their neighbourhoods by walking, cycling, and taking transit. In partnership with the Centre for City Ecology the study has been extended by the Toronto Community Foundation to include pilot sites for the Mayors Tower Renewal program. Dr. Hess is also part of a University of Toronto research team examining the politics of transportation in Canada including the entrenched institutional processes sustaining a culture of “automobility” and auto-dependence.


Harold Madi is the Director of Urban Design for the City of Toronto, where his extensive urban planning and urban design background lends to the multi-disciplinary practice of this section of the City Planning Division. Harold joined the City in 2014 after over 18 years in the private sector. He is now charged with leading nearly 80 staff in Civic Design, Heritage, Graphics and Visualization and the four district Urban Design Development Review units that comprise the City of Toronto’s Urban Design Section.

Prior to being appointed Director, Harold held a number of key positions in prominent Toronto-based firms, including Senior Associate at Brook McIlroy-PACE Architects, a founding Partner at Office for Urbanism, and Partner at The Planning Partnership. Harold is also a faculty member at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University, and he sits on the Design Review Panels for the City of Vaughan, City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.


Pierre Alain Trévelo studied architecture and urbanism in Paris and Harvard and pursues a research that aims to capture the complexity and paradoxical nature of the contemporary city. This research crosses therefore essential topics, which are sometimes neglected in the contemporary city; such as the potential of architecture in locations determined by other factors, the role of large modern infrastructures, the status of monumentality, or the environmental condition in the metropolitan context. This research also constructed by the confrontation and the proliferation of topics, programs and scales: the practice therefore addresses both public and private projects, local and metropolitan. Housing, as raw material for the city, occupies a special place in the process of the practice.

Pierre Alain Trévelo, with Antoine Viger-Kohler, founded TVK Architectes Urbanistes / Trévelo & Viger-Kohler in Paris in 2003. TVK focuses primarily on the question of building the city and the metropolis and has attracted critical recognition and awards (New Album of French Young Architects Awards in 2006 and Young Urban Planner Award in 2005) with its ability to offer a fresh look on topics strongly influenced by the complex realities.

TVK brings together the two founding members of the association TOMATO that produced the book,Paris, La Ville du Peripherique (Paris: The ring road city). The practice continues its editorial activity, especially with the recent release of the book No Limit. Etude prospective de l’insertion urbaine du peripherique de Paris (No Limit. Prospective Study of Urban Integration of the Paris Ring Road).

TVK also aims to develop specific creative tools for project. With its experience in working as a team, the agency seeks to develop a specific methodology based on an iterative and crossed reflection mode. This open approach includes a strong willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders involved in the construction of an innovative metropolis.


The challenge of the Middle City Passages Toronto is to design the interaction between the Sheppard East LRT stops and local pedestrian routes, incorporating passages to improve urban life in the suburbs. The competition will focus on developing strategic design proposals for two test sites - Palmdale Drive and Agincourt Drive - that exemplify typical conditions.

Middle City Passages Toronto is a dual phased international competition, organized by IVM - City On The Move Institute, Metrolinx, and the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, open to young professionals and emerging practices in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, urban planning, and related disciplines.

March 6, 2015:  Launch event, registration opens
April 30, 2015:  Deadline for applications
May 2015:  Selection of 6 teams to participate in the Design Workshop in Toronto
2-9 July 2015:  Design Workshop in Toronto with selected teams and announcement of the winning team