OCAD University students win first place at provincial competition

Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 4:30pm

Two OCAD University students have been honoured at CONNECT: EnAbling Change -- a province-wide post-secondary design competition.

  • Third-year Environmental Design student Xiaoyu Xu (Sherry Xu) won first place in the Architecture category.
  • Rickee Charbonneau, a student in the Master's of Inclusive Design program, won first place in the Industrial Design category.

CONNECT projects explore design that is accessible to the greatest number of people regardless of age or ability across all design disciplines.  

Open to all Ontario post-secondary design students, the competition called for “project ideas that remove barriers for people with disabilities and promote greater inclusion”.

The winners’ work will be on exhibit Friday, May 8, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., Toronto.


OCAD University faculty members recognized for teaching excellence

Friday, April 17, 2015 - 4:00am

OCAD University is filled with outstanding instructors, and each year we honour the best of the best with teaching awards. The winners of OCAD U’s 2015 teaching awards were announced on April 15:

  • Sandra Kedey will receive the Price Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes the contributions of full-time faculty members.
  • Mark Tholen will receive the Non-Tenured Faculty Award, which each year is given to contractually-limited term appointment, sessional and continuing faculty for excellence in teaching.

Kedey and Tholen’s exceptional teaching contributions were recognized by anonymous nominations submitted by people from across the university, including students, fellow faculty, alumni and administrators.

A faculty member in OCAD U’s Advertising program (and a university alumna), Kedey is also a senior creative marketing executive at SLK Communications, where she specializes in strategic brand development. Tholen teaches in the Environmental Design program. In addition, he is the president of (and partner in) TYYZ, an award-winning architectural and design firm.

Stuart Reid’s Union Station installation inspires awe

Glass panels from Zones of Immersion installation
Artist Stuart Reid at work
Glass panel from Zones of Immersion installation
Friday, April 10, 2015 - 4:00am

Seven feet tall and 500 feet long, Environmental Design professor Stuart Reid’s immense glass mural at Union Station is capturing the media spotlight. Titled Zones of Immersion, the work consists of 166 glass panels of large drawings and writing that convey the experiences of transit riders. In 2008, Reid won an international competition and was commissioned to create a permanent art installation for the new second subway platform at Union Station. The glass panels were hand painted, sandblasted and etched at a glass factory in Paderborn, Germany, and are now being installed.  

Large drawings and sketches that informed the final project are currently on display at Gallery Gevik, 12 Hazelton Avenue, until April 30. Reid will be in attendance at the opening reception on Saturday, April 11, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The monumental work is not yet completely installed and lit; nonetheless, it has been grabbing the attention of Toronto’s arts and urban affairs writers. You can read more in the National Post, Toronto Star and UrbanToronto.ca.



Environmental Design students take top awards at Design Haus competition

Monday, March 16, 2015 - 3:45pm

Aspiring architects and design students from all over North America were given the opportunity to design a suite at a soon-to-be-built condominium in Toronto. Fourth-year OCAD U Environmental Design students took two of the top three prizes.

Chieng Luphuyong won the first prize of $10,000 and a team made up of Orod Tajdaran, Pouria Amidi and Yalda Bakhtiari won the third prize of $3,000.

Participants were asked to design one of two apartments ranging in size from 500 to 900 sq. ft. for a chance to earn cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000.

The jury consisted of industry and academic leaders in design and architecture:

  • David Lieberman, associate professor, University of Toronto
  • Colleen Reid, associate dean, Faculty of Design, OCAD University
  • Filiz Klassen, associate chair, School of Interior Design, Ryerson University
  • Pietro Ferrari, School of Architectural Studies, George Brown College
  • Clifford Korman, principal, KirKor Architects
  • Kelly Cray, principal, Union31

The Design Haus building on College Street east of Spadina will be 17 storeys high with approximately 116 condominium suites and 26 rental suites.


Environmental Design Silent Auction

Grey poster with black text
Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 12:00am to 4:00am

A fundraising auction to support Environmental Design students participating in the 100th annual Graduate Exhibition (GradEx). We will be auctioning off some beautiful pieces of art, woodwork, and other objects, all made by Environmental Design students.

One-of-a-kind, handmade creations!

Sips and snacks

Instagram: @OCADUED2015


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University  52 McCaul St.
$3 (incl.coat check)

ED Thesis from the Past

Poster with image of a dinosaur in a forest
Friday, February 6, 2015 - 12:30am

As we ramp up towards the end of the Spring Semester and the upcoming Thesis presentations, we thought it would be beneficial to the students to see a range of exemplary thesis projects to motivate them and help them gain some insight into how to pull off their own final projects. THESIS FROM THE PAST will take place on February 5th at 7:30 pm in Room 544 and feature four inspiring thesis projects:

Harvestscape, 2013 by Rui Felix (Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate, U of T / OCAD U Alumni)
Canadian Infrastructure Futures, 2010 by Stephen Addeo (Architect, Pan Am Games, 2015 / OCAD U Alumni)
The Collecting Museum, 2009 by Vesna Jocic (Environmental Graphic Designer)
Framing New York: A Hotel in Williamsburg, 2005 by Angie Michail (Architect, LGA-AP / OCAD U)

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Room 544

Design Competition Challenges Students: If I was Mayor…?

Team 15's #bluechair Project
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 5:00am

OCAD University’s annual Design Competition, held last week, challenged students to respond to the question, “If you were the Mayor of Toronto, how would you design an intervention that renews our sense of city identity and civic purpose?”

Launched on a Friday afternoon, student teams had four days to design a concept responding to the question and present it in an exhibition in OCAD U’s Great Hall. The competition jury members were Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission and former Mayor of Toronto, Max Beck, President and CEO, Easter Seals Canada, Beth Alber, metalsmith and OCAD U Professor Emerita, Matt Di Paola, Managing Director, Digital Innovation, Sid Lee, OCAD U alumnus Matthew Del Degan, Founder and President, Sandbox Society Inc. and Faculty of Design Associate Dean Colleen Reid.

Team 15 won the first place price of $2,000 for their #bluechairs Project, a concept to reunite isolated Torontonians through social interaction. The campaign makes use of social media and physical installations of chairs as a means to stimulate conversations. Team 15 members are Industrial Design students Kristin Thomson, Adam Badzynski, Benjamin Laflamme and Houston Keil-Vine.

Team 14 received a second prize of $1,000 for Toronto’s People’s District, a concept for a district in the city that puts people first by permanently converting a streetscape in Toronto to a pedestrian only neighbourhood. Team 14 members are Environmental Design student Lambert St-Cyr and Industrial Design student Brandon Skarpa.

The Student Choice Award prize of $500 was a three-way tie, with Team 14, Team 15 and Team 10 sharing the honour. Team 10’s project is a concept for a theatrical production combining music and sport called #TOLO, Toronto Only Lives Once: On Ice: A Musical Experience. #TOLO tells the story of a local teen (played by Drake) whose destiny is to use song and dance to power the Toronto Maple Leafs to victory. Team 10 members are Industrial Design students Nathan Asis, Tom Debicki, Anne Kwon and Oscar Kwong and Graphic Design student Prairie Koo.

Team 18 won Honourable Mention for their concept Unfold TO, a postcard exchange project that allows Torontonians to share their experiences with other regional communities. Team 18 members are Industrial Design students Rachel Jui Yun Ma and Nadia Hy, and Environmental Design students Yoon Hee Kim and Ye Seul Kim.


Active design in action, image provided by Gayle Nicoll.
Gayle Nicoll. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing. Image provided by Gayle Nicoll

Good design can improve health by encouraging physical activity. Dr. Gayle Nicoll, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD U, co-authored an important new publication research study, Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing. The study looks at cost-effective strategies for incorporating active design principles in affordable housing developments, and these strategies are aimed primarily at increasing physical activity among children aged 3-18. 

The study builds on the award-winning Active Design Guidelines published by New York City in 2010, which Dr. Nicoll also co-authored.  

Gayle Nicoll. Photo by Christina Gapic.“Active design is an environmental design practice that aims to provide opportunities for people to achieve recommended levels of physical activity to promote health and avoid chronic disease within their daily lifestyle,” explains Nicoll. “Active design helps to address the critical health epidemic of our current time — obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.”

As a result of advancements in technology and lifestyle changes in work and entertainment North Americans have become increasingly sedentary, leading to higher rates of chronic diseases. But this surge does not affect everyone equally: research shows affluent people are less likely to be overweight or obese than people living in low-income households, in part due to the costs related to access to fresh produce, recreational facilities and programming. Nicoll’s research shows that active design strategies can be economically incorporated into urban, site and building design.

“It’s one of the rising issues of our times,” says Nicoll. “The next generation will likely be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. It’s so important for us to incorporate opportunities within our public spaces, workplaces and home environments for people to achieve recommended levels of physical activity in our daily lives. This includes physically active recreation and active transportation, such as walking, cycling or using the stairs instead of the elevator.”

In her scholarship Nicoll works directly with health providers and architects. Her focus is on translating the substantial evidence from academic research and best practices related to influence of environment on human behaviour into design practice and public policy. Her new publication has the potential to become one of the most important references for affordable housing providers and designers across North America interested in the active design movement. 

Nicoll and her colleagues hope to continue developing this series of reference publications, delving further into how active design can be incorporated into suburban developments and across diverse populations, including the elderly and those with mobility issues.

Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing. Image provided by Gayle Nicoll.
Nicoll co-authored the publication with Dr. Karen K. Lee of the Built Environment and Healthy Housing Program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Jennifer Du Bose at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Architecture. OCAD U played an important role in the production of the book: Environmental Design student Parham Karimi produced the graphics; and Graphic Design student Ansel Schmidt provided the graphic layout and production, under the supervision of the Graphic Design Co-chair, Roderick Grant. 

Nicoll and Lee will be conducting a workshop on Active Design as part of the Urban Ecologies Conference at OCAD U in Toronto, June 20-21, 2013.

Download the publication:

Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing. 

Read more:

News release 

Active Design Guidelines


Tara Paashuis at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Tara Paashuis's project, The Bath. Image by Tara Paashuis.

Tara Paashuis’s medal award-winning project, The Bath, is a design concept for an inclusive, socially responsible recreational centre. Here’s how she describes it:

My thesis project is called The Bath, and it centers around the adaptive re-use of a vacant 1930’s incinerator on a 5.5-acre brownfield site in the Junction. By reintroducing a variety of social bathing traditions, the design focuses on the senses and activities unmediated by digital technology. Accessible, inter-generational programming, and exchanges of “waste” or surplus (water, heat and revenue) helps to establish beneficial and sustainable relationships between buildings and within the community. 

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I knew that I wanted to focus on a public bath, and I feel strongly that re-using existing buildings is far more sustainable than tearing down old ones or developing precious greenfields. The task was to locate an urban site that was underutilized, then figure out how to get Torontonians into the idea of a communal bath. The programming combines the accepted notions of recreation centres and luxury spas, and the complementary activities one might enjoy before and after, like a great meal, a walk in the garden, crafts or seasonal events. I really wanted to transform a forgotten area into an accessible, memorable place.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The spatial requirements and recommendations for swimming pools, diving boards and universal design are quite complex. I researched these areas heavily. I also visited as many spas and pools as I could in Toronto, New York and Montreal. I learned to listen to the mechanical aspects of the space, and I became quite fussy about these details. Things like the water returns in the pools, the ventilation noises and the dripping of water had the capacity to either delight or disappoint.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I just kept pushing — continued researching, refining my design, exploring the possibilities of my site, trying new ways of model making and learning new techniques for digital rendering.  

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

To be honest, I had been working so hard and hadn’t slept much and thought that I must have dreamed the phone call. I didn’t let myself believe it until I saw the email too. It was really overwhelming in a positive way!

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

Certainly the support of some really great teachers! I loved the camaraderie of the open studio, and will really miss all of our workshops. Having access to ceramics, wood, metal, plastic and rapid prototyping under one roof makes all the difference in the type of work you can explore and complete. 

What are you planning to do next?

I plan on getting my LEED credentials and furthering my education in architecture, but would like more practical experience first. I recently finished a design/build project with some classmates (portagecollective) in support of The Stop Community Food Centre’s annual Night Market. It’s great to have something actually built!

Find out more about Tara Paashuis:



Bio City Map. Image courtesy Terreform ONE
Downtown Brooklyn 2110. Photo by Melissa Jean Clark, OCAD U Visual Resources

What do future cities look like? Something out of post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, or something equally imaginative, but biologically sustainable and ecologically renewable? The Biological Urbanism exhibition on now until February 22 at the Onsite [at] OCAD University gallery blends architecture, landscape, urban design, biology, engineering and art to explore possible futures.

In planning the exhibition, the gallery’s curator Lisa Deanne Smith looked at the relationship of design to the topic of sustainability, and one organization kept coming up in her research. She got in touch with Terreform ONE [Open Network Ecology], a non profit architecture group for smart city design, ecological planning and public art based in New York City and began planning a design exhibition with the designers there.

“We feel privileged to be presenting this work in a gallery and to be merging design work with fine art,” said Nurhan Gokturk, Director of Innovation at Terreform ONE. “It’s important to bring these ideas into the public purview and widen the discussion.”

The ideas driving this exhibition are of the dramatic, overarching ilk — world population growth, megacities, climate change, renewable energy generation, healthy living. The intention of the research and works on display is to explore the consequences of radical changes to global cities, explore how the world is adapting to address these changes and imagine what could happen in the future.

In talking about the exhibition, Smith said the complexity of the ideas presented in the exhibition required a shift in her thinking, but when she talked to her 11-year-old daughter about it, her daughter immediately absorbed the concepts and became captivated by it. Whatever your views on globalization and the future, the 3-D works in the exhibition are designed to question, probe global concerns, posit solutions and provoke a reaction. Visit the exhibition and you’ll see:

-A large-scale “Bio City Map” that uses mathematical interpretations of the future together with petri dishes of bacteria and “bacteriography” (bacterial photography) to forecast the world population distribution in the next 100 years.

-A model of the 38,000 tons of waste New York City produces every day, with a vision for how cities can reuse and repurpose to radically shift the relationship of waste to supply.

-A large-scale model of Brooklyn in 2110, as a city of the future producing everything it needs to sustain itself within its physical borders.

Learn more:

Terreform ONE  

Visit the exhibition 

Attend lectures and events