Perkins & Will Designers Join 3rd-Year Urbanism Studio Reviews

April 29, 2022

The third-year urbanism studio welcomed designers Ashita Parekh and Brandon Lind from Perkins & Will’s Toronto office during reviews in March and April to discuss proposals for a transformed 70-acre peninsula north of Gravenhurst, ON. 


The site is the former home of the Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium, owned by Infrastructure Ontario, and originally designed for treating tuberculosis patients in the 1900s. 


Assistant Professor Suzanne Harris-Brandts led the studio alongside Teaching Assistant Matthew Mun. 

Students looked to the Muskoka region to examine ideas of Retreat Urbanism, broadly defined as development patterns taking place in smaller, leisure-oriented communities, driven by a retreat from larger, proximate urban cores — either on a permanent (resettlement) or temporary (vacation) basis. 


After having spent several weeks doing precedent research and learning about Gravenhurst’s multifaceted history, students put forward schematic group development schemes and then detailed personal designs. 


Among others, the work included proposals for: 

– a University of Toronto biology satellite campus,  

– headquarters for the Ministry of Tourism, 

– a water research institute 

– an Indigenous Friendship Centre 

– community recreational facilities 

– an artists’ workshop and residence. 

Student Amani Hamzeh’s project for a satellite UofT Biology Campus at Cliff Bay, Gravenhurst, Muskoka

The guest critics from Perkins & Will were joined by Colette Isaac (Moose Deer Point First Nation), Assistant Professor Julia Smachylo (University of Connecticut), and Michael Nugent (McGill University). They were also joined by Intern Architect Shannon Clark, Associate Professor Ben Gianni, and Instructor Dina Sarhane from the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism. 


The teaching team extends a sincere thanks to all the guests who generously provided students with feedback.