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Layers of Toronto - Toronto Society of Architects panel discussion

November 26th, 2020

Layers of Toronto - Toronto Society of Architects panel discussion

TSA Community Shorts Panel l Experimental Cinematography from Toronto Society of Architects on Vimeo.

For those who don't know, I am an architect by day. My overlay work started when i was in architecture school, and since then I have created many pieces of art of the City I love, Toronto. I put all of these Toronto art pieces into one video for a submission to the TSA (Toronto Socirty of Architects) September Video playlist. I participated in a panel discussion to discuss the work with the other filmmakers.

Layers of Toronto - video featured by Toronto Society of Architects

November 25th, 2020

Layers of Toronto - video featured by Toronto Society of Architects

For those who don't know, I am an architect by day. My overlay work started when i was in architecture school, and since then I have created many pieces of art of the City I love, Toronto. I put all of these Toronto art pieces into one video for a submission to the TSA (Toronto Socirty of Architects) September Video playlist. Check out my video and all the others here, as part of the Experimental Cinematography playlist.

I will also be participating with the other with the other filmmakers where we will discuss perspectives on the opportunities, challenges, and potential of film to help tell and develop architectural narratives. The panel will be on Facebook Live and Zoom.

Panel 1: Experimental Cinematography | September 22, 2020, 6:30 PM |

Blue Crow Gallery Group Show 2020

November 24th, 2020

Blue Crow Gallery Group Show 2020

The 4th Annual Summer Group Show at the Blue Crow Gallery is being held this year from July 24th to Sept 24th. My art is being featured now, along with over 80 other 12" x 12" pieces from amazing artists.

This is my second year in the show, and this year I submitted this crow piece. Some might say that it was a little on the nose, given the gallery name, but I thought it was appropriate for 2020.

The virtual Instagram opening took place Friday July 24th, where gallery owner Jodi did a great job walking everyone through each piece, the price, and medium. Even before the opening stream, my piece sold - who says you can't have a successful gallery opening during quarantine! Wanted the crow but didn't get it? It is now available on the animals page my site.

Since the show is on until September, I have dropped off a second piece at the gallery, the iconic Toronto bike lock.

The gallery will then be open for people to come in to view the show and buy pieces during gallery hours which will be Tuesdays and Thursdays 3-6, Friday 1-6 and Saturday 11-4, or by appointment. Check out the show while it's still on, in person or on Instagram by following @bluecrowgallery

Now And Then - Overlay Art At The Selby Hotel Construction Site

November 23rd, 2020

Now And Then - Overlay Art At The Selby Hotel Construction Site

For my second time working with the PATCH Project (Public Art Through Construction Hoarding), I was proud to be able to feature a heritage building in Toronto, the Selby Hotel. As an architect, I was happy to capture the mansion as it existed, before the development of a new condo tower on the site.

Toronto’s Selby Mansion has played many roles over the last few decades: a school; a gay bar; a hotel; and a historic landmark.

Through the PATCH project, I was commissioned by Tricon Luxury Residences and MOD Developments, who are responsible for the heritage-informed rental project which is being developed at the same address. In order to make room for the condo, the heritage structure was preserved, and moved forward towards the sidewalk.

I created two additional images for the construction hoarding: one of the Selby Street signs along the street where the hotel is located, and second is the entrance to the nearby Sherbourne Street Subway entrance.

The Sherbourne image was placed on the side of the construction site, whereas the main Selby hotel street image went along Sherbourne Street.

Today, a 49 storey tower towers behind the mansion.

Combining the old with the new and everything in between, I believe that to collapse a hundred moments into one image is to tell the story of the passage of time in an instant. The works, covering over 1200 square feet of expansive hoarding at 592 Sherbourne Street, reflect the architectural evolution of Selby Street.

My work stitches together hundreds of images of the site, much like the site stitches together many histories. I use an overlay technique to represent a different vantage point on the built environment, one that merges multiple instances of the same object, incorporating the element of time.

See more of my Toronto art here and my architectural art here.

Selby Hotel piece
Sherbourne Subway Station Piece
Selby Street Sign Piece

The PATCH Project - How Public Art Through Construction Hoarding brings art to Toronto streets

November 22nd, 2020

The PATCH Project - How Public Art Through Construction Hoarding brings art to Toronto streets

Getting my artwork displayed at billboard-size, along the sidewalks of downtown Toronto was no small accomplishment. But it was all possible thanks to the PATCH Project.

PATCH stands for “Public Art Through Construction Hoarding”. PATCH is a social enterprise operated by the award-winning STEPS Initiative, responsible for some of Canada's largest and most iconic public artworks. For the last 15 years, they have worked closely with their roster of over 120 artists and designers, managing public art projects, and supporting urban development initiatives in the City of Toronto.

Once I was on the artist roster, PATCH approached me to have 3 pieces of my work on a new condo construction site by TRIDEL. It was near the intersection of Church Street and Gerrard Street East in downtown Toronto. The condo was called “Alter.”

Having moved to Toronto at the age of 19 to go Ryerson University for Architectural Science, I was very familiar with this corner. The architecture building is located at 325 Church Street, just a block away form where these works ended up. My experimental photography methods also began during Architecture school, so it felt appropriate.

Three black and white pieces were selected to fit with the TRIDEL's marketing campaign. The original pieces that were exhibited used photographs taken over months, around the streets of downtown. I overlaid the series of photos in my signature style.

The three art pieces all focus on public transit, and are all some of my earliest works.
The first is the inside of the Summerhill subway station, where I moved after graduating from Ryerson University.

The second is the inside of the old Toronto streetcar. These are slowly being taken off the streets to make way for the Flexity street cars, which do not have windows that open.

The third piece features a bar on Queen Street East called Alfie's. Although the focus of this piece is not transit related, all the photos were taken out the window of a moving streetcar. I passed Alfie's on my way to work at an architecture firm where I worked for 9 years. I was always intrigued by the various characters that were hanging out on the sidewalk outside of Alfie's.

After many months on being at sidewalk level, there is bound to be tags and graffiti on the art, but I took this to mean that it is now part of the City! And most of the graffiti ended up on the condo marketing vs. The art.

Although they remained for years, construction of the Alter Condo is now complete, and where my art once stood, is now an A&W. This is fitting with the ephemeral nature of my art, as all things are temporary.

Exiles Of Identity - How My Architecture Thesis Started My Art Career

November 22nd, 2020

Exiles Of Identity - How My Architecture Thesis Started My Art Career

My overlay work began during my Masters of Architecture thesis at the University of Toronto in 2011. My thesis research focused on the rampant condo development in Toronto’s CityPlace, and the lack of neighbourhood and identity associated with condo neighbourhoods such as these.

I was initially inspired by Bernd and Hilla Becher, German artists and conceptual photographers. Their work focused on categorizing industrial buildings such as water towers. They took a series of photographs of one typology, and organized them into a grid based on their subtle differences. They took an iconic image found all over the world, and laid it bare in an attempt to boil it down to its essence. But I felt I could take this a step further.

I began by photographing all of the condo towers in CityPlace and arranging them in a grid. In trying to organize them, I realized that the similarities were so drastic, that I could make one single image that represented the whole of CityPlace. This lead to the first overlay, which to me, represented a blurry memory of CityPlace.

After I presented my thesis, this image was the most popular and most commented on by the jurors. After graduating, I decided to continue on with my overlay technique in the Grand Central Terminal Sketchbook competition.

A more widely-known influence of mine is the Cubists, in particular, Picasso’s Nude Descending a Staircase. This image also takes several moments and represents them in a single image. This is the spirit and feeling I strive to achieve with my work.

Lastly, my work was highly influenced by Edweard Muybridge and his invention, the photo gun. His photographic studies were monumental works in the study of motion. They paved the way for early motion picture projection.

Below is an excerpt from my thesis text:


No one lives together in the contemporary city anymore. Even surrounded by millions of people, we sit alone in coffee shops, each on our own devices, in virtual solitude. Ideas of 'public' and 'social' have been replaced by residential real estate, which favours pure individualization. High rise apartments are purchased specifically for their peace, quiet and anonymity, by those who seem to not to care about tenants more than two floors below them. Life in the condo village is event-less, constituting the perfect background into which one can merge invisibly. This can be attributed to the functional efficiencies of the modernist slab tower, individualization of utilities, and the contemporary real estate. It is not that we don't care about the person who lives ten floors below us, it is that we live in a world that discourages engagement by putting obstacles and barriers in our way. The seriality of modern architecture has intensified the isolation of the individual down to a cell.

In times of increasing isolation, it is opportune for people to abandon the task of individual identity-making to form a solidarity of greater unity and collective identity, for the advantages of communal immunity. The dominant mode of collective urban living, the condominium, is in need of reconsideration, not of thoughtless stamping on every emerging downtown core. To increase the health of the occupants of a high rise condominium, each of them boxed up into the sky, we need something that will give residents a strong feeling of identity. The well-being and sustainability of people living in dense high-rise cities depends us living together for a common future. We must radically reconfigure the condominium, as we know it, accommodating programs spanning multiple levels, across multiple buildings, and even multiple neighbourhoods. As living and working conditions have started moving toward the atomization of individuals living on their own, is certain is that the link between immunity and community has had to be thought out in a new ways. It is the only way for us to live together with a minimum of conflict and strife while maintaining freedom of choice. How to achieve unity in spite of difference and how to preserve difference in in spite of unity.


For all the proximity of its condominium towers to the many eclectic neighbourhoods of downtown Toronto, Concord CityPlace, located on Toronto's harbourfront, belongs to a different world. This is in no small part due to the fact that this mode of urban planning is imported from across the continent. Bottled, capped, and distributed far and wide, Vancouverism has spread the globe as a new ideology promoting an urbanism of density and public amenity. The New York Times describes Vancouverism as "an urban style characterized by tall, but widely separated, slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces, small parks, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to minimize the impact of a high density population."

Architect Arthur Erickson is credited by some with developing the concept in the mid 1950s, in a never-realized development called "Project 56," a pencil sketch of downtown Vancouver showing soaring residential towers sitting atop townhouse podiums. His vision was translated into Vancouver's 1991 Downtown Plan, which established the small plate high rise tower on townhouse base typology that is the architectural face of Vancouverism, along with Social Bonus Zoning, and the notion that developers, not taxpayers, would help pay for public amenities in new districts. Coupled with this plan, was the purchase of the former World EXPO 86 grounds in 1989 by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing, and the construction of Concord Pacific Place, precursor to Toronto's Concord CityPlace. It was with this, the continent's largest planned community, that Vancouver found its place on the world stage, through seductive imagery and a packaged narrative of being the most "livable city."

Today, Erickson's concept has been brought into fruition, and Vancouver has been bestowed its global reputation for doing one thing well: building condos higher and denser than any other spot on the continent. Because of its love affair with tall, thin towers on townhouse bases, Vancouverism is replacing Manhattanism as the go-to scheme for contemporary city building.

For all of its praises and accolades, the Vancouver style can alternatively be seen as a cookie cutter approach to high-rise high-density development. It is essentially a planner-and-develop-driven model which has left little room for architectural reconsideration of the basic premise of high-rise housing. After twenty years of development, Vancouver has produced no architectural gems in all of its residential towers. Overly reliant on ‘‘best practices’’ and ‘‘precedent studies,’’ solutions to city's complex urban problems are no longer solved through rigorous analysis and critical thinking, but through efficiency and the application of trendy best practices.

Then there is the issue of street life. While the Site Plan of Concord Pacific Place, Vancouver bases of the towers were designed specifically to enliven the street and provide the perfect setting for social interaction, most visitors to condominium neighbourhoods will notice a conspicuous lack of it. The effect has been the feeling of the unsustainable suburbs invading the downtown core; that of a vertical gated community. A 2007 report on the consequences of high-rise living concludes that there are numerous psychological and social problems with condo residents, such as increased fear and anxiety, behavioural and learning disorders in children, and increased suicides. Additionally, residents of high rise towers were found to have fewer friends, and less cognitively complex views of these friends. This could be attributed to the increased anonymity that naturally accompanies the larger number of people in tall buildings, and the extremely serial nature of residential units.

One cannot speak of the consequences without noting the many potential benefits boasted by the Vancouverist livable city: expansive views, greater area for green space, less noise, crime, and maintenance work. But what about the non-transferable aspects of condominium living? Proximity to a large number of services, transportation options, and neighbours is now being sold as an amenity. But what happens when that access is only perceived, and not actually there, and we take away the picturesque backdrop of mountains and ocean, and look at Vancouver's condominium-crazed downtown core in a different context.

In 2011, the principles behind the Vancouver style have been tested through export and transplantation into major cities across the globe such as Calgary, San Diego, Dallas, Shanghai, and Toronto. The condos of harbourfront Toronto, more than a decade in the making, are still no where near completion. Yet it is all too clear that Vancouver, the most livable city since 2002, has failed to manifest itself in downtown Toronto. It is no wonder that a kit of parts urbanism strategy has not born the same fruit on all soil. By replicating the same approach to condo living in every city and every building, we have failed to reconsider the true issues facing high-rise living today.

Canada’s largest city never generated “Torontism” because the city is not a one-liner, but a diverse place that does many things. Dozens of multicultural neighbourhoods pack downtown Toronto full of street life. A walk through Concord CityPlace only yields the opposite, a disconnected and autonomous island of iconic glass tubes, cut off from the city by a railway corridor.


What used to be just a pool and a gym, has now expanded to a seemingly endless list of amenities that condo-seekers are requiring in their prospective purchases. Salons, theatres, galleries, spas, and supermarkets, are now just a few of the spaces that are seen as the norm in the modern cruise ship-like condominium. This phenomenon has spawned a new building type: the presentation centre, where seductive images and brochures try to sell the unbuilt based on these amenities. The architecture of condo development has become less important than the promotional literature, which carefully vies for the attention of a particular segment of the market, who are interested in a particular lifestyle.

The marketing attempts to speak to people who want to reward themselves with a higher level of living. But more often than not, it does more to detract me from purchasing then it does what the marketing team’s intended efforts are. Condo marketers are too concerned about building a brand and an image around a condo that fits into their marketing personas. Personas that don’t represent one of their actual buyers but the average likes and dislikes of their potential customers. While many of us are normal people, we’re not statistically average. The marketers then develop a plan, they brief the agents and the agents repeat the story and the vision ad nauseum via sales pitches and flash websites

Recently, condominium projects didn’t have to listen to their customers, their was enough demand and the market was moving so quickly they didn’t need to. But they may soon have to listen. Every development which sells its location as ideal, may need to hear that their location is not optimal, and come up with a plan to address it. If a marketer is going to sell a condo as a place where you can ‘Revel in what you create’ then they will need to really give the customer the opportunity to create. Why is it that we can customize our $10,000 cars more than can can customize our $500,000 lofts? Perhaps when customers are given more than two choices for their kitchen counters, developer-driven condo market, which has limited architects to designing only 1% of the design of the

The Road To Brooklyn - How I Got My Art Into The New York Transit Museum In The First 6 Months Of My Art Career

November 21st, 2020

The Road To Brooklyn - How I Got My Art Into The New York Transit Museum In The First 6 Months Of My Art Career

I've always considered myself more of an artist than an architect. Don't get me wrong - I love designing buildings. But there is art involved in architecture, just like I try to involve art in everything I do. So it's no surprise that art has seeped into my architectural education and work life so much that it spawned its own secondary career. In fact, I created my overlay art style while in architecture school.

In 2011, when I first moved my overlay artwork from the academic world of the University of Toronto and my architecture thesis, to the art competition world, I did not think it would send me to Brooklyn so quickly.

As I was finishing my architecture thesis at UofT, I stumbled across an art competition titled Moleskine Grand Central Terminal sketch competition by the Architectural League NY. That was the first time I felt the internal spark that the overlay technique I had developed in school could be used beyond academia. My architecture thesis focused on the rampant development of glass condo towers in Toronto, which was my first overlay.

In 2013, Grand Central Terminal celebrated its centennial with a year-long series of events, exhibitions, performances, artistic installations and projects to honor the building’s legacy and imagine its future. As part of that celebration, the Architectural League NY and the New York Transit Museum partnered to host a drawing competition for architects and designers to capture or re-imagine the New York City landmark.

The winners were to placed in a special Moleskine sketchbook commemorating the centennial of Grand Central Terminal (often referred to as Grand Central Station).

I had taken numerous pictures in Grand Central Terminal on my various trips to NYC in the past. But would I have enough to create the overlay I had envisioned? Sifting through my old vacation photos, I collected and organised a series of photos that I thought would be enough. I applied my technique, and hopefully submitted it to the competition.

Months later, I received the great news that not only was my image selected for publication in the sketchbook, but that all the winners were to be shown in the New York Transit Museum for 6 months from June to December 2013.

David Daniels, Co-founder of the architecture firm I worked at (SUSTAINABLE.TO), had the opportunity to learn about the Grand Central piece from me, and commissioned me to create the enlargement, that now hangs proudly in his home. Once the piece was mailed off the New York, it was then time to attend the Grand Opening at the NY Transit Museum.

My boss and friend Paul from the architecture firm I work at, SUSTAINABLE.TO Architecture + Building, bought tickets on Porter airlines, a small and convenient airport located on Toronto Islands. Porter planes are small, (leading to turbulence and nausea on my part). But the sickness did not put me out of commission so much that I couldn't take more photos for a new overlay. On route to NYC, I was sitting directly beside the wing, which allowed me to take numerous shots with the mesmerizing propeller as my focal point.

The New York Transit Museum is located in an old subway station in Brooklyn. Upon entering, we saw my piece front and centre, as a showpiece of the exhibition.

Today, the piece is in the David Daniels art collection alongside many other fine works of art.

The propeller images later became another one of my art pieces, which has now ballooned into 200+ works, consisting of Toronto streetscapes, objects, celebrities, animals, and more.