Environmental Design team creates Beaches Winter Station

Rendering of a wooden installation on a snowy beach
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - 9:15pm

OCAD University professor Mark Tholen and a team of students are building an installation for the city’s whimsical Winter Stations exhibition in the east-end Beach neighbourhood. This is the second year lifeguard stations will be transformed into interactive, sculptural shelters for winter beach-goers.

The OCAD U installation, called The Steam Canoe, is made of laminated wood panels that evoke the shape of the prow of a canoe. Solar tubes at the rear of the shelter will convert snow into steam which will flow from the structure while warming the occupants inside. 

Team members:

  • Mark Tholen, Assistant Professor, Environmental Design
  • Curtis Ho
  • Jungyun Lee
  • Monifa Onca Charles
  • Reila Park
  • Hamid Shahi
  • Lambert St‐Cyr
  • Jaewon Kim
  • Jason Wong 

Ryerson University and Laurentian University are also participating, with another four designs chosen from 378 submissions.

The exhibition opens February 15 and runs through March 20 at the Balmy, Kew and Ashbridge’s Bay beaches.



Lexus Design Challenge

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 5:00am

Hamidreza Aghashahi (Environmental Design student) and Victor Mancini (Industrial Design Student) were selected a one of the finalists, winning an award of $1,000. for the Lexus National Design School Challenge. Their winning design Diamond Motion is on Display outside of the Design Office, Room 500, 100 McCaul until December 5th.

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