MarketScale AEC 12/06/18: The History in Toronto’s Modernity


The design and architecture styles of a city are enigmatic, and often have hundreds of years of history crafting their vibe and cohesiveness. In today’s episode, we take a look at these forces, whether they’re cultural influences on design, environmental influences on construction, or stylistic influences on an overlooked deliverable. Our main feature focuses on one city, Toronto, and it’s unique architecture, with commentary from Tom Bessai, lecturer at the University of Toronto and Principal of his own design studio. We will also hear insight from Karen Weigert, climate fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on her organization’s report calling for an overhaul of building codes worldwide. But first we’ll hear from Vicoustic, an acoustic treatment company based out of Portugal, that came on our podcast to talk sustainability in sound management architecture. All of this and more on today’s AEC Podcast Show.


Our first feature is centered on Joao Ferreira and Gustavo Pires from Vicoustic, an acoustic treatment company. Vicoustic started as a pro-audio and hi-fi acoustic manufacturer, but the company has expanded over the last several years into standard spaces such as public spaces, offices, schools, and restaurants to name a few. With this expansion came a focus on sustainability, not just for the company for the industry. They took a deep look at how they were producing their products, and decided to swap raw materials for an innovative recycled plastic. MarketScale Host Sean Heath got the insight; let’s get a taste for how Vicoustic is setting a standard for the industry. You’ll learn all of the things that affect acoustics, and we are certain you will leave loving acoustics almost as much as they do.


Earlier in September, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a report on urban carbon emissions, and the results were staggering, calling for immediate action on building codes to enforce more in-depth energy-efficiency requirements We brought in Karen Weigert, climate fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, to give more first-hand insight on the report as well as what cities can be doing now to avoid decades of high emissions as they expand.

Weigert said it’s important to find a balance between environmental goals and tenants’ and owners’ needs, adding that when the Council looked at what was producing the most carbon emissions in Chicago, they found it came from healing, cooling, and operating buildings, with automobiles in second place. More efficiency in buildings is thus central to reducing carbon emissions, especially since international cities are on a trajectory for unbridled expansion. The goal is zero emissions, but is it doable? Weigert gave us first-hand insight on the report as well as what cities can be doing now to avoid decades of high emissions as they expand.


For our main and final feature, we look at the past, present and future of Toronto’s architecture with Tom Bessai, a lecturer for the John H. Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Toronto is a city rich with history, taking great pride in the Victorian and striking modern styles that adorn its skyline. “There’s a fairly concerted effort to recondition these industrial areas…into a kind of magical, futuristic, high-density neighborhood,” Bessai said.

Bessai, who not only teaches on the history of Toronto’s architecture but contributes to it, explains the creative mesh that is British Empire Georgian homes and Frank Gehry contemporary museums. He gives us a look at the cultural movements that influenced the city’s buildings, as well as some specific projects that speak to him as emblematic of Toronto’s tight knit, expressive community.


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