Submission Criteria

Eligibility requirements:

  • You may nominate any place, project or public art installation that demonstrates excellence in urban design.
  • Entries in all categories must be located within the boundaries of the city of Toronto, and other than Visions & Master Plans and Student Projects, must be fully implemented or built at the time of submission. No project can be older than five years (i.e. projects published or completed before 2018 are ineligible).
  • Design professionals/authors of the project, clients, owners, community groups and residents may nominate works for the jury’s consideration.
  • Entries must conform to the submission requirements.
  • Projects funded by the City of Toronto and designed / prepared by consultants, are eligible for awards.
  • Previous winning entries of the Toronto Urban Design Awards are not eligible, with the exception of past winners in the Visions & Master Plans category entering a now built project into the appropriate building/open space category. Previous non-winning entries are eligible.
  • Members of Toronto City Council, employees of the City of Toronto, jury members, and their families are not eligible to enter.

The Toronto Urban Design Awards program seeks broad representation from the design community, including representation from Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving groups or communities.  In addition, the program seeks entries that represent design excellence in diverse neighbourhoods particularly those underrepresented in the space.

The primary criteria for assessing the merit of all entries will be:

  • Positive contribution to the public realm/quality of place
  • Successful integration with surrounding urban fabric (both urban and suburban contexts)
  • Demonstration of fulfilling a clearly articulated urban design intent
  • Precedent setting for a project of its type through major innovation and/or design excellence
  • Exemplary application of the City of Toronto’s Urban Design Guideline documents
  • Incorporation of barrier-free design or improvement to the accessibility of the built environment and public spaces
  • Positive contribution to a sustainable environment, including enhancement of pedestrian, cycling, and transit infrastructure and application of the Toronto Green Standard
  • Demonstration of sensitive and creative preservation of the heritage values of a building or area, and contribution to a sense of place

Jury members will give special consideration to the broad goals of the City’s Official Plan including urban design projects that support equity, affordability and resilience, accessibility, integration and preservation of heritage resources, environmental sustainability, public art, and that contribute to the City of Toronto’s goals of reurbanization. Successful submissions will take into consideration applicable City of Toronto Urban Design GuidelinesToronto Accessibility Design Guidelines as well as the Toronto Green Standard, Green Streets, Toronto Resilience Strategy, TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, The Toronto Biodiversity Strategy and The Active City Report, all of which reflect the City’s expectations for high-quality, accessible and sustainable design. When heritage conservation is involved, the development/proposal should comply with good conservation practice and take into consideration the Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines.

A sustainability statement is to be provided including information on how your project helps to address the dual climate and biodiversity emergencies by meeting and exceeding sustainability performance requirements of the Toronto Green Standard, guidelines, and strategies of the City of Toronto as noted above. The sustainability statement of 200-300 words should identify how your project has met these initiatives and other notable features that demonstrate how climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience have been included in your design or concept. In addition, we ask you include the tree canopy cover, how the urban heat island is addressed, and if available, the energy performance metrics of your design or concept (Thermal Energy Demand Intensity, Green House Gas Intensity, Energy Use Intensity).

Equity, reconciliation and diversity are core values at the City of Toronto. An optional statement speaking to this may be included with your submission. The statement can outline how your project seeks to achieve equal outcomes for Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving groups, amplify their voices in how work was undertaken, strengthen relationships and build trust. You can also highlight how your project took an equity and reconciliation approach to its methodology, and furthered and advanced them in its outcomes. This optional content will be taken into consideration when reviewing the submission.

Note: The jury reserves the right not to present awards in every category. The jury also reserves the right to reallocate submissions into categories which they deem to be most appropriate.

All submitted materials will be retained by the City of Toronto and will not be returned to you.

By submitting an entry you agree to give a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to the City, and anyone it authorizes, to use, display, distribute, modify, crop, reproduce, and create derivative works of the submission materials, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed including the Internet, for any City purpose related to the Toronto Urban Design Awards program, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion. Such license is provided without any fee or other form of compensation, or any requirement for additional approvals. You further agree to waive all moral rights in any of the submission materials. You represent and warrant that you have the full power and authority to grant the rights granted herein and that the consent of no other persons is required in order for the City to use the submission materials.

Award Categories

The Toronto Urban Design Award Categories are listed below:

A stand-alone object, public art installation, landscape element or small-scale piece of a building which contributes significantly to the quality of the public realm.

Submissions may include, but are not limited to: benches, doorways, signage, canopies, porches or colonnades, gateways, light fixtures, walkways, stairways, barrier-free access, fences and works of art.

An individual building or a composition of buildings that achieve(s) urban design excellence and is precedent setting for a project of its type through its relationship to the public realm, pedestrian amenity, detailing and massing, and the natural environment.

Submissions should document and highlight how the project contributes to successful city-building through its contextual relationship, design quality and measures of sustainable design.

All types of buildings are eligible whether “landmark” or “background,” new construction or a restoration/transformation. Projects in both urban and suburban contexts will be considered.

The Private Buildings in Context category consists of three sub-categories that reflect a range of scales:

a. Low-scale

A low-scale project is four storeys or less, notwithstanding its land use. Submissions may include, but are not limited to: multi-family residential uses such as low-rise apartments and townhouse developments; and retail, office, mixed-use or industrial facilities on main streets and arterials.  Single-family dwellings (e.g. houses) are not eligible for entry.

b. Mid-Rise

A mid-rise building is generally taller than four storeys, but no taller than the width of the adjacent street right-of-way (i.e. typically between 5 and 11 storeys). Submissions may include, but are not limited to: mixed-use “Avenue” buildings, small apartment/condo buildings, commercial and industrial buildings.

c. Tall

A tall building is generally taller than the width of the adjacent street right-of-way. A building or project that has both tall and mid-rise components should be entered in this category. Submissions may include, but are not limited to residential or commercial buildings.


An individual building or a composition of buildings, with a primary function to serve the public and/or is largely accessible to the public. Public Buildings are focal points for communities of various sizes, from small neighbourhoods to a national body.

Submissions should demonstrate urban design and architectural excellence through a relationship to the public realm, pedestrian amenity, detailing and massing, the natural environment and sustainable design.

In this category, all building scales are eligible (low-scale, mid-rise and tall), as well as new construction and restoration/transformation. Buildings in both urban and suburban contexts will be considered.  Submissions may include, but are not limited to: education, health care, recreation, cultural, community and civic buildings.

A small open space, generally related to and defined by adjacent buildings or natural/built elements, which provides an extension and addition to the public realm in an exemplary way. The small open space need not be publicly owned, but must be publicly accessible.

Submissions may include, but are not limited to: courtyards, plazas, forecourts, gardens, trails, mews and small neighbourhood parks.

A design plan for a new or renovated large-scale area of the city. The project must be completed to such extent to allow the jury to clearly understand and evaluate the plan.

The submissions in this category should clearly state the existing conditions and demonstrate how City objectives for establishing a clear public structure of streets, parks, open spaces and building sites are met.

The submission should also highlight major areas of innovation, particularly those related to infrastructure, environmental management and sustainable design, as well as provide evidence of community involvement and acceptance.  Submissions may include but are not limited to: large parks, area/district plans, neighbourhood plans, subdivisions, industrial parks, campus plans and streetscapes.  Both urban and suburban contexts will be considered.

Unexecuted visions for the city, studies and master plans of high inspirational value with the potential for significant impact on Toronto’s development. Submissions in this category may include but are not limited to: theoretical and visionary projects, as well as any project fitting the description of Large Places or Neighborhood Designs that are unbuilt.

Students in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and other design programs are invited to submit theoretical or studio projects set in, or relating to Toronto. Students should co-ordinate with design studio professors/advisors to select projects that are suitable for submission.