This evening I participated in a roundtable discussion at WORKshop here in Toronto. It was part of an exhibition that they currently have on called, Toronto 2020: Where Will We Live? They are located in the concourse level of 80 Bloor Street West, so go check them out.
The discussion this evening was all about the dramatic change in Toronto’s urban form over the last decade. In other words, the condo boom. We covered everything from the life cycle of buildings and urban design to demographics and policy. It was a lot of fun and I am certain the group could have continued talking all night.
But one thing that I was reminded of this evening is how important it is for great city building to be cross-disciplinary.
Take, for example, architects and (real estate) developers.
The stereotypical developer is greedy and only concerned with money. They don’t care about the impact that their buildings have on the built environment. On the other hand, the stereotypical architect is only concerned with design and not with the economic feasibility of projects. (I’m exaggerating here for effect.)
The point is that neither of these participants in isolation could build a great city. A beautiful design doesn’t have much value if it can’t be financed and built. And a highly financeable project could end up contributing nothing to the city. In some cases it could actually detract from the built environment.
So if we really want to build truly great cities, I believe it needs to be a collaborative effort. We need to bridge the divides in thinking and leverage each other’s strengths.
I have felt very strongly about this since I first started studying architecture as an undergraduate student, which is how I ended up taking business and real estate classes. I felt and continue to feel that the greatest opportunities exist at the intersection of different ways of thinking.