Our City is at a point, in its development when there is a unique confluence of opportunities and challenges:

  • an unprecedented extent of development being proposed both by the City and private developers- new events centre, new library, new art gallery, housing projects, redevelopment of the rail lands, as well as, related infrastructure projects.
  • overlying global issues that will impact all of those developments – primarily climate change and the need to create zero net energy solutions,
  • the potential for Sudbury to take its internationally recognized re-greening success to a second phase.
  • an international School of Architecture, with a unique focus and most importantly a mandate to foster world class design, in the North.
  • a School of Architecture with an international Advisory Board that is committed to advancing and funding the School’s goals.
  • and finally a Covid 19 crisis that is having a major impact on the health, social, infrastructure and economic sectors of the City.

So, why an Urban Design Ideas Competition?
An Ideas Competition provides a unique opportunity to maximize the development of new urban ideas, in the shortest amount of time. Because it has an international scope, it brings to Sudbury the creativity and inspiration of designers from around the globe – designers who are themselves also experiencing the impact of the covid pandemic. Designers who can offer their experience and talent to the development of plans for our city.

The results will provide a foundation on which the City can build its plans for the post-covid future.

Although the competition was initiated in response to the many challenges and opportunities present prior to the Covid crisis, it coincidentally provides a perfect response to the planning required as the crisis diminishes.

It is a great “good news story.”

The unique value of an Ideas Competition
By its very nature, it provides a forum for truly innovative ideas to be presented.

This type of competition will draw architects, urban planners, engineers, environmental designers and urban thinkers from all over the world.

It is already doing that.

It’s only been launched since late February and there are already more than 200 designers, from more than 50 countries all over the world, registered.

Since it is an “ideas competition,” it is not intended to provide a final blueprint for future development in the urban core, but rather, the solutions coming from this competition are intended to influence architecture and urban design and guide future development.

Entrants are asked to present their ideas for high level design solutions for the urban core, reflecting the major building projects being proposed. At the same time, entrants are challenged to propose the broader context in which the urban core resides – the proximity to Lake Ramsey and its adjacent parks, the connections to greenways and watercourses, as well as the relationship to surrounding neighbourhoods.

The design challenges and potential are huge in scope and international in scale.

In order to maximize the scope and success of an “ideas competition,” entrants will have a great amount of flexibility and will not be bound by the many “realities” that will eventually be encountered as the best “ideas” are transformed into implementation plans. In developing solutions, entrants are able to disregard private versus public property. They are able to propose locations for projects that may differ from existing plans. They can propose the inclusion of projects, that are not presently proposed. In an “ideas competition” this creative freedom is essential for the development of new ideas.

What better way to explore a wide range of options and perspectives, than through an international urban design ideas competition.

The challenges posed in the competition are for the entrants to present their visions for:

  • A city set in the extraordinary natural beauty of Northern Ontario – a city with hundreds of lakes, a winter city with a culture driven by Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous communities.
  • An “international” City, with more than 300 companies exporting intellectual capital and mining products around the world.
  • Design solutions that sustain the City’s ability to continue to attract new generations of the best and brightest talent, with the built form in the urban core clearly reflecting this aspiration. Visions for a vibrant city, open to the world it serves.
  • Design solutions that reflect the city’s position as northern Ontario’s leading healthcare research, education, and economic engine, with an urban core highlighting the creativity and energy necessary to maintain a leadership role.
  • The transformational growth of emerging economic sectors such as mass timber construction and remote, automated, electrified, sustainable mining technologies.
  • A City that is an international economic and environmental miracle. The City’s economy has recovered from massive mining layoffs and its environment has been transformed with re-greening and regenerating strategies.
  • The City’s aspirations to respond to the ongoing challenges of climate change and the City’s “climate emergency”.
  • A post Covid urban environment.

There are many goals for the competition:

  1. To provide new perspectives of our community and to reveal unseen, unimagined opportunities – “ to create a 2020 vision for Sudbury’s urban core in 2050”.
    2. To trigger public or private developments that would not have happened otherwise. An innovative idea may lead to an unforeseen development opportunity. Economic impact will come from the potential to stimulate development activity.
    3. To provide their strategies for engaging the community with their proposed solutions.
    4. To distill the key principles that should guide ongoing planning and development in the City.

Other results
Aside from the prime goals, this competition is already attracting international attention to the City and the McEwen School of Architecture.This competition is globally unique, in that the entrants are being offered the opportunity to propose their ideas for a complete urban core. Usually, urban design competitions will focus on only a small part of a city. Even in a global context, where urban design competitions are common, the focus on a complete downtown of a mid-sized city is unique.

To our knowledge, there has never been a design competition like this in Canada. Sudbury will be another first.

Covid 19
When the Sudbury 2050 Urban Design Ideas Competition was launched, in late February, the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the world was only beginning to be appreciated.

Fast forward and the world has changed dramatically. Countries around the world are taking unprecedented steps to stem the tide of infection and deaths, resulting from the virus. The global focus is almost totally on dealing with the pandemic.

Everyone’s hope and expectation is that the onslaught of the pandemic can be slowed and ultimately stopped; however, the resultant impact will vary widely from country to country.

Regardless of when and the degree to which that happens, there is no question but that our world will be dramatically different than it is today.

Of necessity, the City of Greater Sudbury will have to reassess its approach to future planning, with regard to many projects in the community. Cities around the world are beginning that reassessment and, as an example, Toronto has already started that process, with the recent launch of their “recovery and rebuild strategy”.

Resuming post-covid 19, with a “business as usual” approach is not an option.

There are a number of ways for the community to take part in the competition
The competition is open to anyone and there is no cost. The registration information is on the website So you don’t have to be an architect or an urban planner to enter. You might consider it as an interesting way to spend your time in Covid isolation.

The competition has an Open Category, which is open to anyone, as well as a Student Category for entrants who are presently studying.

The submissions from all of the entrants will be available for viewing online and the public will be invited to choose their favourite. The public votes will be collected and a People’s Choice winner, with a $3000 prize, will be selected at the same time that the Jury announces the winners and honourable mentions for the Open and Student Categories.

Once the winners are announced, an opportunity will be offered for the public to attend the presentations, by the winners, of their submissions in a workshop environment. If the need for “social distancing”, related to Covid 19, continues, it will change the manner in which the submissions are presented to the community and how the winners present their solutions – “virtual workshops” may be required.

Finally, all competition entrants are to present their approach for engaging the community with their urban design solutions. This has been set as a key “community engagement” challenge in the Competition requirements.

Some final points about the competition

  • Launched Feb 28
  • Submission deadline Aug 28
  • Prize categories
    ▪ Open $50,000
    ▪ Students $10,000
    ▪ People’s Choice $3,000
  • Jury made up of McEwen Advisory Board members, students, faculty, community members and architects – to be announced in June.
  • Public display events – Sept/Oct
  • Winners announcement – Oct/Nov
  • Winners presentations in community workshops – Nov/Dec

The McEwen School of Architecture is promoting this competition
Since its inception over a decade ago, the MSoA has matured to become a significant centre for research, design and building in architecture and urban design in the North. The relationships that the MSoA has nurtured with northern communities locally, nationally and internationally, particularly with indigenous communities, have provided deep knowledge about how to live, design and build well in environmental circumstances that are often complex and challenging. This growing body of expertise is now offered through a proposed set of events designed to demonstrate the way in which the respectful yet critical study and appreciation of a place and community over time can yield strategies for urban design and architecture that are resilient, enduring, and celebrate life in the North.

MSoA’s presence in Sudbury represents a unique opportunity for the City. The City invested in the School and can capitalize on that investment. The School is a unique source of design expertise and urban design resources for the community. The MSoA is in an ideal position to be the focus for a community engagement process that tackles the urban design issues facing the City. As an internationally recognized School of Architecture, the MSoA is also able to attract international interest in its design activity and bring global problem-solving skills to local issues. The McEwen School has proven that it can work collaboratively and in consultation with members of the community who are committed to optimizing the future of the City.

This competition will reach out beyond the McEwen School of Architecture and the Sudbury community. It will connect to the global design community, searching for creative ideas for Sudbury’s future. The School is leveraging its position, as an international design School.

The McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University is the major sponsor of Sudbury2050; however, the competition also has the support of the Northern Ontario Society of Architects, Studio123 and the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. Now that the competition is launched, other sponsors are being invited to join the project.

The McEwen School’s International Advisory Board is supporting that commitment – through the funding of expenses and prizes – in order to make the Sudbury2050 Urban Design Ideas Competition an international event.

Although led by the School, this competition is clearly a public event and will ultimately engage with the community in a significant way.