PUG Awards 2011

2011 PUG Awards likely to be a tight affair

Voting for the 2011 PUG Awards opened yesterday, and I have to say my first glance at the list of nominees left me feeling ambivalent about our recent architectural efforts. Founded in 2004 (as the Pugly Awards), the annual exercise invites "the public to vote on the best, the middling and worst of Toronto's newest real estate developments." Buildings that have garnered top honours in the past include the Royal Conservatory of Music, 60 Richmond East, the Frank Gehry redesign of the AGO, the Gardiner Museum, One King West and the National Ballet School (amongst others).

2011 PUG Awards

Unfortunately, this year's list, which includes 38 nominees, doesn't seem to include an obvious candidate to rival these former people's choice winners. While there are a host of fine buildings — like the TIFF Lightbox, the Corus Quay Entertainment Complex, The Thompson Hotel, the Archives of Ontario and the Glasshouse Lofts — to choose from, taken as a whole, the nominees are less daring and innovative than one would hope. Is it just me, or is Toronto's commitment to the podium/tower template for condo design getting a little tired? No doubt it's a pragmatic use of space (and thus strongly advocated for in the Tall Buildings Study), but I get the sense that it has its creative limits.

Corus Quay Toronto

The great thing about the PUGS, however, is that they're not about selecting the best building from a shortlist of nominees that could all potentially win. There are always structures on the list that are bound to get more negative feedback than anything else (think the Shops at Don Mills, the Ryerson School of Business, or 76 Shuter, all former hall of shamers). It's always difficult to predict which building will get panned the worst in a given year, but an early candidate might be the Scarborough Gospel Temple (below), which although not entirely cringe-worthy, isn't likely to get whole lot of positive feedback.

Scarborough Church

Picking a potential winner is even tougher. The TIFF Lightbox (immediately below) is bound to garner plenty of positive votes (mostly on account of name-recognition), but it's not exactly an aesthetic marvel. In the Commercial/Institutional category, the Archives of Ontario and the Bloor/Gladstone Library seem likely to duke it out, but that's partially because there isn't that uch competition outside of the Corus Complex.

What do you think? Is the crop of buildings from 2010 a disappointment? Is there a clear winner on the list? Has anything been missed?

TIFF LightboxBloor Gladstone LibraryOntario Archives

Images from the PUG Awards website

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