The Daniels Faculty would like to congratulate Professor Emeritus George Baird — along with University of Toronto President Meric Gertler and U of T faculty members Brnda Andres, Frances Shepherd, and Kent Roach — on being appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Established in 1967, the Order recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. A former Dean of the Daniels Faculty (2004-2009) and founder of the renowned firm Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, Baird received the honour for “his contributions to architecture as a scholar, teacher, and practitioner.”
Baird joined Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design as the George Travelstead Professor from 1993 to 2003 before returning to Toronto to become the Dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, a position he retired from in 2010.
Upon awarding Baird the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education in 2012, the American Institute of Architects wrote that “Baird is often credited with having helped a new generation of architects find a place at the intersection of architectural form and urban function. He did this by engaging disciplines beyond architecture and fearlessly exploring the political implications of city-making to articulate architects’ social responsibilities.”
Though his influence has been felt world-wide, so much of what Toronto urbanists now recognize as good city-building was first championed by Baird in the 1970s, when isolated residential towers, plaza style shopping centres, and single-use zoning were considered de rigueur. Back then, the types of approaches Baird advocated for — including the primacy of public spaces, the need to achieve a nuanced relationship between new and old, and the importance of community-based design — challenged the established approach to urbanism in Toronto.
Baird’s influence has extended from local politicians to city planners to some of Canada’s most prominent architects, many of whom started their career working with him, including Bruce Kuwabara and Thomas Payne of the firm KPMB, John van Nostrand of regionalArchitects and planningAlliance, Martin Kohn of Kohn Shnier Architects, and Brigitte Shim of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, who appointed to the Order of Canada in 2013.
Baird’s firm, Baird Sampson Neuert Architects Inc. have completed a number of award-winning projects, including the Cloud Gardens Park in Toronto, Thomas L. Wells Public School in Toronto (the first LEED certified public school in Canada), the Mission 2050 Research Centre at the University of Guelph, Erindale Hall on the the University of Toronto at Mississauga campus, and the French River Visitor Centre. The firm also received the Royal Archiectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Architectural Firm Award in 2007. Baird received the RAIC Gold Medal in 2010.
Baird is the author/editor of numerous books including his most recently published book Writings on Architecture and the City (2015). He is also author/editor of Meaning in Architecture (1968), co-edited with Charles Jencks; Queues, Rendezvous, Riots, co-edited with Mark Lewis; Alvar Aalto (1969); The Space of Appearance (1995); and Public Space: Cultural/Political Theory; Street Photography; An Interpretation by George Baird (2011).