Past Meetup

Panel Discussion: Innovating to a Better Toronto (Doors Open Event)

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Innovating to a Better Toronto

Saturday, May 25,[masked]am – 12:30pm
Snell Hall, St. James Cathedral Centre,
The Cathedral Church of St. James
65 Church Street (at King)
Toronto, Ontario
M5C 2E9

The world’s most enduring, celebrated and vibrant cities have rich histories that are artfully connected to the urban needs and styles of today by smart, pleasing design. Does that happen by accident, or is thoughtful planning required?

A group of Toronto’s most accomplished planners, designers and community leaders will explore this question, discussing how Toronto’s rich past can be recognized and reflected in today’s architecture and design in a way that makes Toronto a better place to live, work and play, even as it sustains an urban building explosion.

Tours of the Cathedral Centre will be offered after the panel discussion.

Christopher Hume (, Toronto Star’s award-winning architecture columnist and critics.

Panel members:

Anna Simone (, Partner Cecconi Simone

As founding partner of Cecconi Simone Inc., a multi-disciplinary, interior-design firm based in Toronto, Anna has presided over countless, award-winning projects in the residential, hospitality, retail and corporate sectors over three decades.

Residential developments – in Canada, United States, British West Indies, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India and China – comprise a significant portion of Cecconi Simone’s portfolio. The firm has designed more than 70 multi-unit residences in Toronto alone.

Anna has been a featured speaker and judge for numerous events, competitions and other initiatives within the design industry. Anna and her work have been featured in a broad range of print and electronic media, both nationally and internationally.

Wayne Swanton (, Principal, BLA, OALA, CSLA, Janet Rosenberg & Studio

Wayne Swanton is the managing principal of the Studio, overseeing the scheduling of all projects in addition to managing many of the more complex ventures. Highly experienced, detail-oriented, and persistent, Wayne ensures the studio’s ability to manage larger undertakings. He has positioned the Studio to respond to new developments in the profession, and to lead it with design concepts that encourage the integration of scientific and technological advances with traditional landscape architecture theory.

Siamak Hariri (, Partner,Hariri Pontarini Architects

Siamak Hariri, OAA, RAIC, RCA, is a Canadian architect and founding partner of Hariri Pontarini Architects (1994), alongside David Pontarini. Born in Bonn, Germany, he was educated at the University of Waterloo and the Yale University School of Architecture where he received a Masters in Architecture. He is currently the Partner-in-Charge of the competition-winning Bahá’í Temple for South America in Santiago, Chile. In 2006, he won the Governor General's Award for the Schulich School of Business, York University.

Sheldon Levy (, President & Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University

Sheldon Levy is President and Vice Chancellor of Ryerson University. He previously served as Vice President, Finance and Strategy, University of Ontario Institute of Technology; Vice President, Government and Institutional Relations, University of Toronto; President, Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology; and Vice President, Institutional Affairs, York University. Current appointments include: Council of Ontario Universities Executive Committee and Government & Community Relations Committee; Board of Directors, Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation; Board of Governors, Trails Youth Initiatives; Honorary Board of Directors, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance; and Member SKETCH Honorary Cabinet.

Sheldon is recognized for championing an entrepreneurial academic model with the international success of both Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone and Centre for Urban Energy, and is dedicated to student success, distinctive academic programs and research, and advancing the university role as city-builder. He was awarded a BSc, MA, and Doctor of Laws honoris causa by York University, and lectured in computer science and mathematics.

Rahul Barduwaj (, President & CEO, Toronto Community Foundation

Rahul Bhardwaj in his role as the President & CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation has been working to engage philanthropy to improve the quality of life in Toronto. Formerly a corporate lawyer with a leading Canadian law firm, he was also Vice President of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid.
As part of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Fiscal review panel in 2008, Rahul was involved in identifying efficiencies for the City of Toronto. A year later the Province of Ontario appointed him to the Board of Metrolinx (, an organization developing and implementing an overall transit strategy for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. More recently, Rahul was Chair of the 2012 Ontario Summer Games, the first multi-sport games to be held in Toronto and is currently the Co-Chair of TO2015 IGNITE (, a program of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Para AM games ( . He is the past Chair of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival ( and his board commitments, past and present, include Upper Canada College (, George Brown College (, Community Foundations of Canada (, Stratford Festival of Canada ( and United Way Toronto (, among others.

In 2012, Rahul’s commitment to city building was recognized as he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and was named one of “The 50 Most Influential” people in the city by Toronto Life magazine. His vision for Toronto has made him a popular presenter and speaker, particularly on issues relating to the city, community and leadership as well as Toronto’s Vital Signs® ( Rahul is a frequent contributor on TV, radio, and print in Toronto, and has been featured on CBC News Network, and internationally on CNN and China’s National Daily News.

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