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Eight designers offer up new logos for the City of Toronto Add to ...

When The Globe and Mail went casting for ideas for how to improve Toronto in 2014, one in particular stood out: Change the City of Toronto’s logo, suggested Richard Sommer, dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.

As an architect, Mr. Sommer dislikes the logo because it takes a building that is “aggressively three-dimensional”  and reduces it to a 2-D profile. But it also takes a city that is richly diverse and reduces it to the seat of its politics. And with everything that’s been going on at city hall lately, maybe it’s time to rethink the symbol we want representing us.

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The current logo was selected by city council in spring of 1998. The old six interlocking rings that represented Metro Toronto had to be replaced as amalgamation was being ushered in, or so the thinking went.

Vote on the logo designs here.

Although one councillor at the time suggested holding a public competition to select Toronto’s new symbol, the logo competition was ultimately held internally, with contributions from design groups from the municipalities that were being amalgamated.

“What we see now as the Toronto logo was a combination of several design ideas, with final going through the City of Toronto’s design department,” Christopher Brands, the city’s project manager of corporate identity and branding, said in an e-mail.

As a result, the current logo isn’t attributed to any single designer.

No one can tell you who came up with it, but plenty of people can tell you they don’t like it.

When the logo was first presented to council, former East York mayor Michael Prue was so angered by it that he refused to vote on it.

“I was not a fan and continue not to be a fan,” said Mr. Prue, who is now an MPP for the riding of Beaches-East York. “It contained the most recognizable symbol of the old City of Toronto. And when we were forcefully dragged down the road to amalgamation, the symbols of the all the other municipalities were not incorporated.”

Changing the logo might help call attention to things such as signage and street furniture that are so often taken for granted, and help prompt a reappraisal of the quality of our surroundings, Mr. Sommer said.

At the very least, it might just help start a conversation about how we want to represent Toronto to ourselves and to the world.

To that end, we asked eight designers – including one of The Globe’s graphics editors, Matthew Bambach – to reimagine the City of Toronto logo. They had only a few weeks, but each of them produced a logo that reflects a unique way of thinking about the city.

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_McGinn

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