Search AZ Awards ...
Awards By Category
Ontario Court of Justice by Frontier Design

Clarity is king when designing wayfinding, especially when it’s for a court-house building in Toronto, where it needs to serve multiple purposes — from directing people to the proper chambers to providing historical context — in both official languages. With its crisp, clean design for the Ontario Court of Justice, local studio Frontier not only rises to the occasion by taking an admirably no-frills approach, but it also complements the minimalist architecture of the courthouse (Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s first project in Canada) with the resulting elegant system of communication.

Ontario Court of Justice by Frontier Design
Ontario Court of Justice close-up.
A complex graphical project, nicely done.
Piero Lissoni, AZ Awards Juror 2024

Following the strict signage regulations imposed on such a public place, the design team found creative solutions within the constraints wherever possible. Working with humble tools like water jet–cut aluminum, laser-cut acrylic and additive tactile printing, it devised a straightforward aesthetic that begins with the building’s frontage, continues through its lobby — where a meaningful mural rises along the main staircase — and provides universally legible didactic information in words, maps and icons for every room along the journey.

Ontario Court of Justice by Frontier Design

As the designers say, “The intricate hierarchical system is integrated within the custom wall panels of the interior architecture while still allowing for selective narrative moments.” The most emphatic, of course, is the atrium mural, entitled the History Wall, which showcases time-honoured images of the surrounding neighbourhood. Against a bright yellow backdrop, its depictions of pre-colonial Indigenous activity through to the many diverse populations that have called this site home are the most dramatic element in an otherwise placid environment.

Ontario Court of Justice by Frontier Design

Meanwhile, a panel in front of the building also recalls the architectural heritage of the area, once known as The Ward. By hewing to the plain-spoken restraint that this type of project calls for, Frontier was able to bring out these more attention-grabbing graphics. Overall, this is good, honest design — it’s both helpful and beautiful.

Team: Paddy Harrington with Paul Kawai, Jessica Leong and Philip Novak

Winner: Experiential Graphic Design
Ontario Court of Justice

With its crisp, clean design, local studio Frontier complements the minimalist architecture of the courthouse (Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s first project in Canada) with an elegant system of communication.

Explore more Award Winners

2018
People’s ChoiceExperiential Graphic Design
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Firm
ZGF Architects, USA
2017
Award of MeritExperiential Graphic Design
Location
Montreal, Canada
Firms
Civiliti and Group S.M. International, Canada
2023
Award of MeritExperiential Graphic Design
Location
New York, U.S.
Firm
Airspace, U.S.