City of Toronto: City Hall


If you have ever visited Toronto City Hall, it is hard to miss the three-dimensional architectural model of the City of Toronto located just inside the front entrance. The City of Toronto model is a popular tourist attraction and educational piece, viewed without cost by visitors to Toronto City Hall each year. The city model was created in 1989 for the City Planning Division, as a planning tool, using the materials and technologies available at that time. It took 4,000 hours to build was among the first uses of the division's three-dimensional digital model. It seems odd today, but the digital model was printed in 2D and formed a pattern for hand building. Since it was first unveiled, our City of Toronto Architectural Model has attracted more than 100,000 visitors annually. This three-dimensional model of the city core has helped us see our city, test redevelopment options, consider growth and expansion patterns, and imagine the future. Without question, it has served us well. However, over the course of more than 30 years, the model has become out-of-date.

City Planning focussed on developing digital data and delivered a city-wide massing model available on open data several years ago that is regularly updated. The physical model has become a much-loved conversation starter, able to break the barriers of language and unite folks from different perspectives. It has never had a comprehensive engagement program developed and currently is part of the City's tour and education program for students offered by the Clerks division.

Project Description 

This primary focus of this project is identify, craft and innovate new strategies to deliver a program for comprehensive civic engagement at the model and to connected the digital twin. The location of the physical model will continue to be situated at a prime spot for resident, stakeholder, visitor and tourist engagement. Using the new model and future interactive exhibit/activities, we hope to inspire and educate others about sustainable, responsible urban living and be aspirational about city building in Toronto. This model will serve as an opportunity to see city building in action by fostering interdisciplinary engagement.

Design Problem

The student team will craft an educational engagement plan connecting the physical model and digital twin. Ideally the team will consider and make recommendations for partnerships with a diverse group of stakeholders to deliver programming connected to a wide range of on-going activities and urban issues by leveraging the physical location and digital opportunities. It is expected that programming would reflect development review, local studies, growth related change, heritage interests, infrastructure and technology and connect the activities happening in City Hall in real time. Some components of the project that students should consider include creating outreach content to 8/80 demographic with an emphasis on next generation decision makers. The project results should include analysis of technology research that can be driven by handheld connected to existing planning information sources such as Application Information Centre and the Heritage Registry. A big part of the outcome should include opportunities to converge at the model via hosting/participating in events and much more.

Student Team

Sarika Navanathan is a fourth-year student at the Rotman School of Management, pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce, specializing in Management with concentrations in Leadership and Strategy, and a minor in Economics. Sarika is interested in the potential to capture and engage with many diverse identities that reside in the city through the project. Over the summer, Sarika worked on Codespace’s (South Africa) newest expansion into high school coding and robotics, and created teach-related teaching materials for students. She is the 2019 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship and the President and Co-founder of the Rotman Commerce Arts Group.

Sara Ghorban Pour is a fourth-year student at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with a specialist in Architectural Studies. Sara has gained practical design skills through the ‘Daniels x Lululemon’ research opportunity program, and has a solid foundation in numerous design software. She has been a Dean’s List scholar since 2016. Sara's future plan is to achieve her goals of pursuing Masters of Architecture (M.Arch) and becoming an Architect (OAA).

Evan Guan is a fourth-year student at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural studies, with a specialist in Technology of Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism stream. Evan is interested in the intersection of technology and how it influences the city, and hopes to explore these questions through the project. Evan participated in the ‘Daniels x Lululemon’ research opportunity program, where he designed and built a meditation pavilion for Lululemon to exhibit outside of the store, and he has been a Dean’s List scholar since 2017.


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