Extending dialogue in a design competition? A participatory urban design competition on Toronto's Waterfront

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Design competitions are often used to select design teams for high profile development projects, yet have received scant attention in the literature. Seeking to redress this imbalance, this paper presents a competition model that was employed on Toronto’s waterfront in 2006 for a large public realm project and describes how it was structured around an iterative public consultation process. Although subject to a number of implementation delays, the competition sponsors built a constituency of support for the redevelopment project by engaging lay people in the decision-making process. The paper argues that the competition struck a balance between lay input and professional knowledge and contends that future research efforts should continue to explore means by which dialogue with the users of the built environment can be integrated into design competitions.