Smart Density “Master Planning Guidebook for Tall Communities”


Smart Density is an architecture and urban planning firm founded in 2016 with a strong, simple vision: create more density where our cities need it while contributing to great urban environments. We recognize that for the future of our cities, it is critical to challenge yesterday’s visions of the suburban dream and embrace a denser, more well-connected future. Achieving this vision requires more than designing great buildings, we help to drive the conversation about what denser, more sustainable, and more liveable neighbourhoods can and should look like. 

3D view of Gardiner East proposed community
Image credits: Fred Heap


Project Description

The Master Planning Guidebook for Tall, Vibrant Communities is a collaborative Guidebook that, through case studies and lessons from international and local master planning experts, explores: the role of contemporary master planned large-scale residential neighbourhoods in growing cities, the pros and cons of starting from scratch, how to measure the success of a master planned community, and strategies for overcoming common criticisms of tall neighbourhoods.With over one hundred master planned communities proposed or under construction in the GTHA, now is an important time to examine the relationship between tall buildings and the public realm. Anchored in the Toronto context with reference to master plans such as Downsview, East Harbour, Quayside, and Galleria on the Park, this Guidebook will explore international master planned neighbourhoods to analyze new high-rise developments and how their advantages can be integrated with appealing urban environments. 

In this project, the Client expects the team to design the following: 

Students will contribute to a published collaborative Guidebook similar to this guide published in 2021 and produced in collaboration with Naama Blonder (Smart Density, Co-Founder), Kehilla, and University of Toronto students. Contributions will include: 

  • Research of international best practices in large-scale master planned neighbourhoods 
  • Identifying master planned communities from around the world that are similar in scale, character, and scope to those in Toronto 
  • Analyzing and contrasting selected plans with Toronto’s scope 
  • Written analysis of reasons that tall neighbourhoods tend to underperform and why their advantages are often achieved at the expense of urban vibrancy 
  • Comparative policy analysis of how urban policy and planning tools influence the at-grade experience of neighbourhoods 
  • Providing best practice guidelines and strategic approaches to building tall neighbourhoods with appealing public realms 
  • Co-pr a final document using InDesign