Meet the 2018 Jury
Allen Chan is co-founder of acclaimed multi-disciplinary global design studio DesignAgency. Founded in 1998, the studio unites interior design, architectural concepting, strategic branding, and visual communication. It is renowned and sought after in Canada, the U.S. and around the world for reimagining the guest and customer experience. Working for leading companies, developers and hospitality groups, DesignAgency brings experience, passion and creativity to make places that immerse guests in a diverse range of styles and experiences.
Chan highly values the relationship between brand messaging and designed environments, evident in his work with Momofuku, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the Ritz Carlton, St Regis and SBE Group. Currently, he is working with multiple new and existing entertainment brands to develop a unique design aesthetic for each property. He is a graduate of the internationally renowned Graduate School of Architecture Preservation and Planning at Columbia University in New York City, and also holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto.
Claire Weisz is a founding partner of WXY, a New York firm globally recognized for its community-centred approach to architecture, urban design and planning. Its most recent projects include the resilient and welcoming Rockaway Boardwalks Reconstruction, commissioned in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; and the Spring Street Salt Shed and Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage, in collaboration with Dattner Architects, a project that proves even the most utilitarian buildings – in this case, sanitation facilities – can be designed to evoke awe and civic pride.
The firm has also played a vital role in discussions around social housing: its Community Design for Affordable Homes and Sustainable Places for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development encompassed architectural and urban models, workshops and publications – an entire program that engaged all community stakeholders. In 2016, WXY was named New York State Firm of the Year. In addition to her role there, Weisz was a co-founder and co-executive director of The Design Trust for Public Space; she is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects; is on the WMF Modern Century Advisory Council and has served on design juries both nationally and internationally. She lectures and teaches widely, most recently as the 2017 Portman Visiting Critic at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture. That same year, she was named one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business.
A partner at the renowned Toronto architecture, landscape architecture and urban design firm DTAH, Megan Torza was involved in the creation of two of Toronto’s most beloved community hubs: the Artscape Wychwood Barns and the Evergreen Brick Works – both award-winning, LEED-certified examples of the creative adaptive reuse of abandoned industrial facilities for not-for-profit clients. More recently, she has led the design of a renewed Farmers’ Market + Cultural Hub in downtown Niagara Falls; acted as professional advisor for the Etobicoke Civic Centre International Design Competition on behalf of Build Toronto and the City of Toronto; and developed the vision for an innovative urban farm and therapeutic greenhouse for the University Health Network.
Torza’s portfolio also includes institutional and housing projects for public and private-sector clients, such as the TRCA Office Headquarters and the Dane Avenue Child Care Centre in Toronto, as well as the Market Commons Affordable Housing in Guelph. She has designed integrated park pavilions for Toronto’s Riverdale Park East and North York’s Woodsy Park, and is currently the partner-in-charge of the Tommy Thompson Park Entrance Pavilion project. She curated the RavinePortal exhibition and co-designed, with Robert Cram, the Orange Crush installation at the Gladstone Hotel’s Come Up To My Room 2015. A frequent guest lecturer and design critic in the urban design and planning faculties at the University of Waterloo and Ryerson University, Torza serves as vice chair both on the City of Vaughan Urban Design Review Panel and on the executive board of the Toronto Society of Architects.
Best known for his sublime sculptural lighting for Flos and his own namesake label, Michael Anastassiades creates work with an enduring quality by focusing on proportion, the honest use of materials, and the physical presence of an object. Positioned between fine art and industrial design, his pieces balance the utilitarian with the poetic and enigmatic. Anastassiades was trained as a civil engineer at Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine in London, but went on to study industrial design at the Royal College of Art. He founded Michael Anastassiades Studio in London in 1994, driven less by commercial incentive than by an ambition to establish a platform for the production of uncompromised objects.
Over its 24 years, the studio has refined a philosophy that champions ideas and experimentation, freeing the design process to allow for greater creativity. Anastassiades went on to launch his eponymous brand in 2007, to broaden the availability of his signature designs; it has since produced a collection of lighting, furniture, and objects that demonstrate the studio’s continuous search for eclecticism, individuality and consistency. This ethos has led to many successful collaborations with brands such as FLOS, Herman Miller, Salvatori, Nilufar, and Swedish design institution Svenskt Tenn.
Over the past 15 years, Michel Rojkind has created some of the most exciting architecture and interiors in his native Mexico. He founded Rojkind Arquitectos in 2002; the firm focuses on exploring innovative architectural, social and urban strategies that positively impact our society and the environment. Its projects include the majestic Foro Boca, the future home of the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, in Veracruz, the curvaceous High Park apartment building in Monterrey and the reimagined National Film Archive and Film Institute in Xoco. Rojkind studied architecture and urban planning at the Universidad Iberoamericana; he has been a visiting professor at SCI-Arc in L.A., IACC in Barcelona and UPenn in Philadelphia. He has juried several international awards and competitions and has lectured all over the world, at such events as TEDx, the Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction, the World Architecture Festival and Design Indaba.
Rojkind has garnered acclaim both at home and internationally: in 2010, he was selected as one of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices; in 2015, he received a grant from the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte | FONCA Mexico that recognized his work in merging digital design and craft; and the following year, Mexico’s GQ magazine named him Architect of the Year.
This year’s illustrious jury is noted for exceptional work in the disciplines that are reflected in the AZ Awards’ categories – architecture, landscape architecture, product design, interiors, and, for the first time this year, experiential design.
Planner and landscape ecologist Nina-Marie Lister’s primary focus is to explore and improve connections between cities and nature through landscape infrastructure and ecological processes across both the public and private sectors. As the graduate program director and associate professor of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto, Lister founded and directs the Ecological Design Lab, a federally funded international “think-make-and-do” tank that develops research- and evidence-based solutions for building sustainable and resilient relationships between cities and nature. Through her studio, Plandform, she works with public and private sector clients to integrate ecology with planning and design. An author of over 40 professional practice and scholarly publications and an honourary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Lister’s work has been exhibited widely, including at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, the Van Alen Institute in New York, and most recently at the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale as a collaborator for the Canadian exhibit, Extraction.
Toronto interior designer Alessandro Munge has been creating award-winning spaces for over 20 years. Founding principal at Studio Munge, his firm has gained international recognition for its distinctive and signature experiences in hospitality, restaurant and residential interiors. Munge’s passion and diverse perspective is expressed in every project, most recently with The William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn, New York. The firm won first place in the 2016 IIDA Design Competition for Lago restaurant in Las Vegas and its design of Vancouver’s Hawksworth was a finalist in the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards.
Industrial designer Theo Richardson is a founding partner and director of development at Rich Brilliant Willing (RBW), the Brooklyn studio known for its contemporary and cutting-edge lighting designs for workplace, hospitality and residential environments. Established in 2007, RBW quickly caught the eye of industry insiders thanks to its innovative products and hands-on method, from concept through to assembly and distribution. Exhibiting twice at Euroluce brought the trio worldwide exposure, as did being named Best New Designer at New York’s ICFF in 2011. Richardson, a Toronto native, and the RBW team have also been nominated for three National Design Awards by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian and listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the “30 under 30” in the Arts & Design Category.
Principal at Boston/New York firm NADAAA, architect, designer and educator Nader Tehrani has built his career advancing design innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration while maintaining an open and intensive exchange with the construction industry. Currently the dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union in New York, Tehrani previously held posts as head of MIT’s architecture department (2010 to 2014) and as the Frank O. Gehry International Visiting Chair for the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design (2010 to 2011). This relationship with U of T continues as NADAAA is set to wrap up a years-long renovation and addition to One Spadina Crescent, a Toronto landmark that will serve as the new home to the architecture faculty. His work often expresses an exploration of materiality, fabrication and tectonics, and has been exhibited at the MOMA, LA MOCA and ICA Boston, and is in permanent collection at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Multidisciplinary designer Michael Vanderbyl has long been heralded as an outstanding, boundary blurring talent. After founding Vanderbyl Design in 1973, he went on to play an integral part in bringing attention to the postmodern movement in graphic design that was defining the San Francisco Bay Area in the early ’80s. Today, his practice incorporates, among other disciplines, print and digital communications; interior, showroom and retail design; signage and identity; textiles and fashion; and furniture and product design. An inductee of the Interior Design Hall of Fame (2012), and an Interior Design Association Lifetime Achievement Award recipient (2006), Vanderbyl’s work resides in the permanent collection of a number of museums, including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, SFMOMA and Munich’s Die Neue Sammlung. Not one to limit himself, he is also an internationally recognized advocate, educator and critic of design.
Our international jury was also made up of some of the industry’s heavy-hitters: architect Chris Wilkinson of WilkinsonEyre (London, U.K.), interior designer Anna Simone of Cecconi Simone (Toronto, Canada), landscape architect Thomas L. Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (Charlottesville, U.S.), architect John Tong of +tongtong (Toronto, Canada), and Omer Arbel of Bocci (Vancouver, Canada).
A founding principal of London architecture firm WilkinsonEyre, Chris Wilkinson established himself with his Supersheds, including the Stratford Market Depot and Stratford Station, part of London’s Jubilee Line extension. His practice went on to win back-to-back RIBA Stirling Prizes for his conversion of a defunct steelworks into the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham (2001) and for the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (2002). Other award-winning built works include the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth and the Guangzhou International Finance Center in China. Among his accolades are an Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architecture, honorary doctorates at Westminster University and Oxford Brookes University and inclusion in the Order of the British Empire Millennium Honours list.
Thomas L. Woltz
Landscape architect Thomas L. Woltz, principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects in New York and Virginia, has filled his portfolio with projects that bridge complex biological systems and restoration ecology with function, resulting in hundreds of acres of reconstructed wetlands, reforested land and thriving wildlife habitats. His focus on ecological and environmental restoration within public parks, urban engineered landscapes, and working farmlands, has earned him over 90 international, national and regional awards. Notable completed projects include the Memorial Park Master Plan in Houston and Citygarden in St. Louis. Woltz is currently working on one of his most technically ambitious projects to date: the landscape design for New York City’s Hudson Yards.
After 20 years as a founder and lead designer at 3rd Uncle Design, in 2012 Toronto architect John Tong established +tongtong, where he emphasizes creative collaboration within a diverse range of projects. Tong is noted for the Drake Hotel Toronto and Drake Devonshire Inn, a circa-1880 foundry converted into a hip rural retreat, and Her Majesty’s Pleasure, a Toronto space incorporating a café, retail boutique, beauty salon and bar – both of which earned him prizes from the U.K.’s Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the MoMA, the CCA and the Design Exchange.
Vancouver designer Omer Arbel has been exploring the inherent mechanical, physical and chemical qualities of raw materials for over a decade. He is the creative director of Bocci, known internationally for its hand-blown glass lighting and powerful installations, presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at Spazio Rossana Orlandi in Milan, among other premier venues. Last year, Bocci opened its first European showroom inside an historic courthouse in Berlin. Named Bocci79, the multi-storey building is now operating as a showroom and archive for some of Arbel’s largest lighting and architectural projects and explorations.
Anna Simone is a co-founder and partner of Cecconi Simone, a Toronto interior design firm synonymous with high-end, award-winning interiors in the retail, corporate, hospitality and residential fields. Simone has applied her signature sophisticated style to countless international projects, from private seaside residences in Anguilla to a community in Dubai consisting of 8,000 residential units, to more than 75 multi-unit high-rise buildings in her home city. Simone was also one of the forces behind the Pug Awards (2004-2014), whose program recognized the best and the worst of Toronto’s architecture with the aim of engaging the public with city’s development.
The 2015 jury composed some of the very best in their fields: architect Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics (New York, US), architect Brendan MacFarlane of Jakob + MacFarlane (Paris, France), designer Anwar Mekhayech of the Design Agency (Toronto, Canada), landscape architect Janet Rosenberg of Janet Rosenberg & Studio (Toronto, Canada) and designer Philippe Malouin (London, UK).
Award-winning architect Winka Dubbeldam is Chair and Professor at the Architecture Department of PennDesign, and has taught her research-based approach to eager master’s students at Columbia, Harvard, Cornell and PennDesign. But that’s not all: as founder of New York design practice Archi-Tectonics, Dubbeldam is the luminary behind everything from buildings with bold, faceted facades in New York to the bottom-up revitalization of downtown Bogota.
Born in Canada, trained in Eindhoven, Paris and Montreal, and now based in London, designer Philippe Malouin is bridging the trans-Atlantic gap in the design world. Since getting his start working for Tom Dixon, Malouin has developed sculptural furniture, boldly hued rugs, ethereal lights and otherworldly installations for the likes of Roll & Hill, Kvadrat, Established & Sons, Swarovski and more.
Since 1983, Janet Rosenberg has been synonymous with innovative landscape architecture. A focus on the identity of the modern city is at the core of Janet Rosenberg & Studio. From the Pan Am and Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House, being built for the 2015 games, to the blown-glass flowers at the Max Tanenbaum Healing Garden at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, she is transforming Toronto’s outdoor spaces. With diverse projects in Canada, the U.S. and beyond, Rosenberg’s environmentally sensitive, yet innovative, approach is also spreading across the globe.
Digital technology and environmental strategies are increasingly important components of an architect’s toolbox, and nowhere are these better integrated than in the work of Brendan Macfarlane and his Paris firm, Jakob + Macfarlane. From the geometric metal-clad FRAC Architecture Exhibition Centre in Orléans to the bold green 10,000-square-metre Euronews Headquarters on the waterfront in Lyon, Macfarlane’s commitment to creating responsive and flexible built environments is evident in every project.
In less then 10 years, DesignAgency – the studio that Anwar Mekhayech established with Matt Davis and Allen Chan in 2007 – has earned international renown. This is thanks, in part, to the fact that the founders spent three years hosting Designer Guys on HGTV. But it’s also because of their collaborative approach to projects, including Toronto’s Momofuku restaurant and the Generator hostel brand. The Generator series of boutique hostels, for which Mekhayech acts as global creative director, brings modern design to even the most cash-strapped travellers across Europe.
Our esteemed jury convened in Toronto to evaluate the 652 entries to the fourth annual AZ Awards.
Along with Paul Filek, Diego Burdi helms Burdifilek, the Toronto interior design firm behind such stellar hospitality and retail environments as the W Hotel in Atlanta; and the flagship Joe Fresh boutique in New York, located in a historical building on 5th Avenue.
Patricia Patkau is co-principal of Patkau Architects in Vancouver. Her firm has won dozens of accolades, including two AZ Awards, one for Cottages at Fallingwater, now under construction. She is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Insitute of Architects.
As the landscape architecture chair at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Charles Waldheim knows what goes into creating smart green space. He helped to advance the discipline of “landscape urbanism”, which describes landscape as a path to order within cities.
Jamie Gray is the owner-operator of Matter, a leading furniture and accessories retailer in Manhattan that specializes in launching young talent. In 2010, he began manufacturing products by some of this favourite designers, under the label Matter-Made.
London-based Ron Arad designed such post-modern classics as the Rover chair, made out of an old car seat, and the flexible Bookworm bookshelf for Kartell. He is also an architect, and in 2010 he completed the Design Museum Holon outside Tel Aviv, where he was born.