What Toronto needs to do to be a global city

January 7th, 2013

Earlier last month, we spoke to E Condos architect Rosario Varacalli about his design principles and his inspiration for E Condos. This time around, we talked to him about his thoughts on Toronto as a global city and its increasing population growth and density.

Do you agree with the argument that Toronto is becoming Manhattanized?

If by that you mean are we getting taller buildings and is the city becoming more dense? Sure, that is happening in certain neighbourhoods and that is great. I don’t believe in sprawl. I really believe in compact cities where you have height and density at certain parts of the city. So a mix of tall buildings at major intersections, some mid-rise buildings and then stable low rise residential buildings that should be protected.

I think we’re on our way to being a global city. We have a diverse population in Toronto and there are some amazing spaces and buildings taking shape in this city. We’re on our way. We’re an infant becoming a global city.

How should Toronto respond to the city’s changing and growing needs?

We need to start thinking about compact and sustainable cities. So the first thing we need to do, is resolve the transit issue with subways, LRT and surface transit. Different parts of the city require different types of transit. Some areas absolutely require subways and other areas need LRT’s, while other areas need surface transit. Transit is absolutely essential for the survival of the city. And if the city of Toronto doesn’t come to terms with it, then we are going to be in a terrible mess. It is halting growth in Toronto.

In addition, we also need to continue promoting public spaces. Better sidewalks, better plazas, better urban parks. So the public realm has to be worked on.

What is your response to the argument that developers are adding to the problem by building more condos?

Buildings aren’t adding more problems to the city. Basically what is happening is that Toronto is growing. And when a city is growing, it has certain needs. And one of those needs is housing. People from all over the world are coming to Toronto. It’s safe, secure, financially stable, diverse and multicultural. So there are thousands of people from all over the world coming to Toronto every year and they have to live somewhere. Developers aren’t the big bad boys coming  to town to build tall buildings. They are just fulfilling the needs of the market for housing.

But developers can’t work in isolation. There needs to be a marriage with the city. The city needs to come forward and promote the infrastructure for these buildings. So there has to be an introduction of transit and infrastructure to support the population growth. There’s a great opportunity for this city to really become a global city by putting these programs in place.

Do you agree or disagree with Rosario? Let us know in the comments, or reach out on Twitter.