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Innovative, eye-catching projects in the categories of infrastructure, institutional and commercial real estate

1) Colourful infrastructure that connects: Pedestrian bridges seem to be popping up across the country, giving new recognition to pedestrians and cyclists and adding vibrancy to streets. Here, Calgary’s red Peace Bridge and Toronto’s yellow Puente de Luz make bold artistic statements and connect communities.

City of Calgary

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Another piece of infrastructure east of Toronto is keeping Ontario commuters safely on the move. This enclosed pedestrian bridge crosses 14 lanes of TransCanada Highway traffic in Pickering, Ont. It will connect to a new parking garage, one of 10 being built to boost GO Train traffic. Governments hope that new office buildings and other commercial real estate projects will follow, creating new commercial activity around these mobility hubs.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

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2) New neighbourhoods on brownfields: When Pan Am Games athletes leave their village in 2015, Toronto will sport a new, green walkable community called the Canary District. The Ontario government has given Dundee Kilmer the job of creating housing for 10,000 athletes and coaches. After the sporting event, the buildings will be converted and sold as condo and townhouse units, creating the foundation of a new east-side community.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

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Another new neighbourhood is growing on what was former CN rail land in downtown Toronto. Here, after years of planning, a SkyBridge reaches its docking point between two highrises at CityPlace. When the project is complete, 20,000 people will live in the new mixed-use community.

Concord Adex

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3) Heritage properties repurposed: The story of this Titanic-era steamship, brought back to Canada after 45 years in Michigan, caught the imagination of many readers. The SS Keewatin crossed the Great Lakes from 1907 to 1966, transporting people and freight. It’s the only surviving ship of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s steamship fleet. Its new job will be to anchor a destination community on Georgian Bay.

Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail

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Once a fearsome part of its neighbourhood, Toronto’s historic Don Jail has been buffed up, its interior refitted as administrative offices for a new Toronto hospital. The project shows how a significant heritage building can be refitted for a new purpose but still tell the story of its compelling past.

Mario Madau/+VG Architects

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4) City cores get new spark: In downtown Kitchener, Ont., the renewal of the Lang Tannery as a 21st century home for digital media startups and giants like Google offers lessons for municipal leaders and developers. The city used a strategy of tax tools, zoning and an open-door attitude to woo commercial real estate investors.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

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Oshawa, too, has made great strides in boosting its downtown core and repurposing land. The Durham Consolidated Courthouse sits on a six-acre site acquired from GM and remediated at the city’s expense. Its clean, bright look has brought two awards – for brownfield redevelopment and green building.

Shai Gil Fotography

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5) Green projects that make a statement: Readers responded when asked to send in photos of their favourite green roofs. Here, Montreal’s first hotel rooftop garden at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Developers and building tenants alike are making growing spaces on what otherwise would be unused real estate.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

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Also popular with readers was the move to permanent, upscale farmers’ markets. Here, the green roof of the spectacular Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, which features species of red and green sedum. Inside the market, the emphasis is on local food. Next year, watch as urban redevelopment and the buy-local food movement gather momentum.

James Ingram/Lydon Lynch Architects

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