Design in Toronto – Are We Succeeding?


Gary Berman
President, Tricon Capital Group

Gary Berman is President of Tricon Capital Group (“Tricon”) and is involved in overseeing all aspects of Tricon’s operations including investment management, investor relations and fundraising and new strategic initiatives. Since joining Tricon in 2002, Mr. Berman has sourced, underwritten and managed investments in major, institutional quality development projects including high-rise condominiums, mixed use projects, and suburban and urban master-planned communities throughout North America. Mr. Berman is currently leading Tricon’s entry into the United States distressed single family rental market.

Prior to joining Tricon, Mr. Berman held various positions in real estate development and finance including working as a development manager for the Canderel Group of Companies and as a financial analyst in real estate private equity and real estate investment banking for the Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs, respectively.

Mr. Berman is the co-founder of the Pug Awards, an online awards and education-based charity established to increase architectural awareness and elevate planning and design standards in Toronto.

Mr. Berman received a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School where he was designated a Baker Scholar, and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University in Montreal where he graduated first overall in the Faculty of Management.

Anna Simone
Principal, Cecconi Simone Inc.

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

Residential projects – in Canada, the United States, the British West Indies, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India and China – comprise a significant portion of Cecconi Simone’s portfolio. The firm has designed more than fifty hi-rise residences in Toronto alone, with Anna presiding over award-wining FIVE Condos, X – The Condominium, Charlie Condos and One Bloor.

Anna has been a guest lecturer and speaker at Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning; Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD); IIDEX/Neocon Canada; The Interior Design Show, Toronto; The Vancouver Home + Design Show; AIA Florida, a chapter of The American Institute of Architects; and the Annual Conference & Case Competition for Out on Bay Street. Anna and Elaine Cecconi, her business partner, were key players in HGTV Canada’s Design Interns, currently in syndication in the United States.

Anna and her work have been featured in a broad range of print and electronic publications, both nationally and internationally.


Christopher Hume
Urban Issues Columnist, The Toronto Star

Christopher Hume is the architecture critic and urban issues columnist of the Toronto Star. In 2009, he won a National Newspaper Award, Canada’s highest award in print journalism, for his columns about architecture and urban affairs. Since the 1980s, when he began working for the Star, he has received five NNA nominations. In 2009, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada gave Hume its President’s Award for Architectural Journalism. He has also received a certificate of appreciation from the Ontario Association of Architects. His book, William James' Toronto Views, won a Toronto Heritage Award in 2000 and in 2004 he received a Landscape Ontario award. Hume was named Toronto's best newspaper columnist by NOW magazine in 2005 and Eye magazine in 2006. In 2009, Hume hosted and wrote a one‐hour special about Canadian cities for CBC TV’s flagship series, The Nature of Things. He appears frequently on radio and television as a commentator on city issues. Born in England in 1951, he came to Canada as a child. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Glendon College. Known as a champion of cities and the arts, Hume lives in downtown Toronto.

John Bentley Mays
Author & Architecture Columnist, Globe Real Estate

John Bentley Mays is a Toronto writer on architecture and visual art. He was art critic of The Globe and Mail from 1980 to 1998, and international cultural correspondent for the National Post from 1998 to 2001. For the last ten years, he has written a weekly architecture column for the real estate section of The Globe and Mail. His book In the Jaws of the Black Dogs: A Memoir of Depression was a number one national best-seller. His other books, and his articles in newspapers and magazine, have won numerous honours, including the National Magazine Awards Foundation’s President’s Medal, the highest recognition in Canadian journalism.

Kyle Rae
Partner of PQR Solutions & Former Toronto City Counsellor

As a Toronto City Councillor from 1991 to 2010, Kyle Rae championed some of the most significant changes ever made in the city.

He spearheaded the revitalization of Yonge Street that resulted not only in the creation of Yonge Dundas Square, one of the premier public spaces in Toronto, but also the new successful commercial enterprises at 10 Dundas East and the CityTV building. He oversaw the relocation of the University of Toronto botany greenhouse to Allan Gardens, preserving the heritage building and creating a new environmental learning centre. He successfully pushed for the innovative funding model and spectacular transformation of the Bloor Street Revitalization. The AIA award winning development of the National Ballet School and Radio City condos were also the result of his vision and leadership. At Ryerson University, Kyle was involved in the approval and development of seven new facilities that highlight the tremendous transformation of that campus.

Kyle is a believer in quality urban living. Over his nearly 20 years on council, the downtown has become a destination for residential renewal. Thousands of condominium, co-­‐op, and not-­‐for-­‐profit housing units have been added to the vitality of the city centre. He has been integral to the promotion of superior design and public space in Toronto and was the first councilor to embrace the point tower as a modern built form in the city. He is acknowledged as the key city councillor who championed urban design as the critical characteristic of new development. More than ten acres of park land and public open space have been added to the amenities of downtown Toronto during his tenure, including Yorkville Town Square, George Hislop Park, James Canning Gardens, Norman Jewison Park, Parliament Square, Wellesley Magill Park and Yonge Dundas Square. He also improved the pedestrian environment by introducing three pedestrian scrambles in the city centre and secured the closing of Gould Street creating an improved pedestrian environment for Ryerson University.

Kyle is well versed in the preservation of our built and cultural heritage. In his capacity as councillor, he fought for the re-­‐opening and creation of the Carlu event space in what was once the mothballed 7th floor Eaton’s Auditorium. He introduced to City Council the Demolition By Neglect Bylaw that allows the City to intervene when designated buildings decay due to errant property owners. As a founding member of the Preservation Board, he has advocated for the preservation of heritage properties and the careful integration of contemporary design. He advocated the introduction of the South and North Rosedale Heritage Conservation Districts, which protects thousands of houses in these unique stable neighbourhoods.

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