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6 May 2015

HOK’s Gordon Stratford Discusses Role as
City of Toronto’s Design Review Panel Chair

Gordon Stratford explains the importance of design discourse in an UrbanToronto article about Toronto’s Design Review Panel.

gordonstratfordenvironmental-portraitGordon Stratford is the senior vice president and director of design for [HOK’s Canada offices]. His work on the city of Toronto’s Tall Building Design Guidelines with former Director of Urban Design Robert Freedman led him to his position as Chair of the city of Toronto’s Design Review Panel (DRP).”

“The panel acts as an advisory body to city staff and deals with several issues, not strictly the architecture of a particular proposal. It does not decide which applications are approved and rejected, but helps aid city Planning in their determination of good design. It focuses on public realm issues such as shadowing and the pedestrian environment in addition to the specific design elements of the building, including massing and height. As stated on the city’s website, the mandate of the DRP is to ‘improve people’s quality of life by promoting design excellence within the public realm, including the pursuit of high quality architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and environmental sustainability.’”

“Stratford believes cities across Canada need to consider having a DRP. ‘I think any city that wants to be a great city needs to have design discourse. It needs to be embedded, it needs to be woven into city-making policies. Otherwise, the discussion and the feedback and the comments won’t amount to anything. I think Toronto needs it because we want the city to be better than it is. I think that any city that doesn’t have a DRP needs to think hard about having one. I think it makes a huge difference.’”