Introducing the 2020 AZ Awards Jury
Made up of international experts – architects, landscape architects and designers at the forefront of their professions – the AZ Awards jury convenes in Toronto in March to review the submissions and select the winners.
Since founding his eponymous practice in 2006, the prolific furniture and product designer Luca Nichetto has served as art director for many international design brands and has developed products with a broad range of the world’s most design-forward manufacturers, including De La Espada, Moooi, Offecct, Parachilna and Bernhardt Design. His work has been exhibited worldwide and has been the subject of retrospectives in cities such as Venice, London, Paris and Stockholm (where his studio is now based). He has been awarded numerous international design awards for his highly researched, innovative design projects, which range across products, furniture and accessories, as well as incorporating architecture and exhibition design.
Since 2008, Stephanie Davidson has collaborated with Georg Rafailidis as the experimental design practice Davidson Rafailidis. The duo was recognized with the Emerging Voices award from the Architectural League of New York in 2018. Its projects have earned accolades from both international design magazines and awards programs. Its adaptive re-use project “Big Space, Little Space” was a winner in the Residential Architecture, Single-Family category in the 2018 AZ Awards and was named one of the best 10 residential projects of 2018 by Azure magazine. Currently, Davidson is an assistant professor at Ryerson School of Interior Design (RSID) in Toronto.
Omar Gandhi is the principal of Omar Gandhi Architect, a ground-breaking architectural practice founded in 2010 with small teams in both Halifax and Toronto. The work of its two studios has garnered much national and international attention in the young practice’s short history. Its projects include a number of stunning houses on the East Coast, including Rabbit Snare Gorge, a gabled residence stretched dramatically to maximize views across its Maritimes setting; and the fortress-like Treow Brycg house on Nova Scotia’s stormy South Shore. The firm has also completed commercial and hospitality projects, such as the Lady Marmalade restaurant in Toronto – a long, light-filled plywood box with a glass-balustraded mezzanine.
The founder of Los Angeles firm Studio-MLA, Mia Lehrer is internationally recognized for her progressive landscape design, advocacy for sustainable and people-friendly public places, and catalyzing work for a climate-appropriate future. Studio-MLA’s vision is to improve quality of life through landscape. Lehrer has led the design and implementation of ambitious public and private projects, including the Hollywood Park Racetrack redevelopment and its L.A. NFL Stadium, the L.A. County Natural History Museum Gardens, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, and many Los Angeles River-related projects.
Marion Weiss is a co-founder of Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, a New York multidisciplinary design practice renowned for its dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure and landscape. The firm’s award-winning landscape designs include the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park on the East River in Queens, and the new Sylvan Theater at the Monument Grounds in Washington D.C. Weiss/Manfredi is currently at work on a research and development hub for Cornell Tech’s new campus on Roosevelt Island in New York and the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre at the University of Toronto. Recently, it was selected to redesign the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
Architect Pat Hanson is a founding partner of gh3*. Under her leadership, the Toronto firm has established a reputation for design integrity across a range of building typologies and scales, and for creating meaningful connections between architecture and landscape within the urban realm. The firm has designed the June Callwood Park in Toronto, the Trinity College Quadrangle at the University of Toronto, and the Governor General’s Medal-awarded projects Borden Park Pavilion in Edmonton and the Boathouse Studio on Stoney Lake, Ontario. In 2016, Hanson was recognized by the international arcVision Prize for Women and Architecture.
Johnson Chou is a Toronto designer with a passion for instilling narrative and metaphor into his work, which includes award-winning interiors for Red Bull Canada, Grip Limited, Mosaic Chicago, Sixty Colborne Presentation Centre and Global Furniture Group and furniture collections for Nienkämper. Founded in 2001, his eponymous studio is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary practice encompassing architecture and interiors, furniture and strategic branding. It endeavours to create spaces that are both experiential and immersive “portraits” of their clients.
Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne is founding principal of Morphosis, a global architecture firm engaged in architecture, urban planning and research since 1972. Based in Los Angeles, New York, and Shanghai, Morphosis’ work represents a wide variety of scales and typologies, from schools and museums to city planning. Its globally recognized works include New York’s Cooper Union building, Emerson College in Los Angeles and (with Teeple Architects) the University of Toronto Graduate House. Mayne also teaches at UCLA and this year returns as distinguished faculty to SCI-Arc, the renowned school he co-founded contemporaneously with his firm.
Stefano Pujatti is director of Elasticospa, an architecture studio with offices in Italy and Canada. Elasticospa conceives each of its projects as a means to influence and revive their particular contexts, in order to strengthen their positive and peculiar features. Its expressive buildings, which include 1301INN, the Flying Stoned residence and the Holy House – all three of which have been nominated for Mies van der Rohe Awards for European Architecture – are driven by a scientific investigation into climactic, tidal, seismic and other environmental factors.
Since 2001, Matt Carr has played an integral part in the Umbra design team, where he serves as VP of Design. He has contributed over 100 designs – including the Postino mailbox, Hub ladder and Rolly furniture collection – to the Canadian manufacturer’s product line. Carr is compelled to create products that balance business and imagination. Subtle details, an appreciation of materials, and the reinvention of traditional objects are distinguishing features of his work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.