Designing Affordable Housing in Toronto: Gui Competition 2021

Maverick Ordonez is the winner of the 2021 Gui Competition, an annual competition of the senior Architecture Design Studio.

Following presentations from the twelve finalists, Maverick Ordonez was named the winner of the 2021 Gui Competition. The prompt for the annual event held within the senior Architecture Design Studio was to design a concept for affordable housing within Toronto.

“We have a saying in the office—what does it feel like to come home?” said visiting juror Julie Eizenberg, founding principal of Koning Eizenberg Architecture. “Of all building types, housing is the one where you have to identify most with the people who use your building.”

“A large part of my design process was to learn more about Toronto, not only as a city but as a community,” said Ordonez. “I investigated who lived in the city, as well as who in the city's population was not recognized.”

Noting that the population of Toronto is split equally between Canada-born and immigrants, Ordonez focused his design on the needs of the latter. Those communities live predominantly on the outskirts of the city, far from the neighborhoods they once built, such as Chinatown and Little India. The jurors commended Ordonez for his research and how he addressed the people for whom he was designing.

The program required that concepts remain flexible enough to adapt to different sizes with different inhabitant capacity requirements. Ordonez incorporated cross-laminated timber panels in both living and workspaces because they could be used at both apartment- and housing-unit scales. They would also allow inhabitants to subdivide rooms as households grew or create retail spaces tailored to the needs of recent immigrants.

The jurors also lauded Ordonez for his graphic representation. Ordonez’s stated goal was to project a sense of the futuristic and the progressive through the drawings. “I incorporated a ‘paper-esque’ aesthetic, as a reference to the phrase ‘paper architecture,’” said Ordonez, “because my project is hopeful and utopian in a way, like projects by Superstudio and Archigram.”

Finalists included: Maverick Ordonez (First Place), Terence Keith Nielsen (Second Place), and Ellie Bennett (Third Place).

Competition jurors were Julie Eizenberg; Laurie Gunzelman, AIA (BSArch ’97 & MArch ’02), principal of GUNZELMAN architecture + interiors;  and Ashley Bigham, co-director of Outpost Office and assistant professor of architecture at the Knowlton School.

About the James E. Gui ’54 Design Competition

On May 3, 1996, the James E. Gui ’54 Design Competition Awards Fund was approved by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. The Fund was generously established by Jim and Ann Gui through the OSU Foundation and will exist in perpetuity. This year’s competition marks the 24th annual James E. Gui ’54 Design Competition. The goal of the competition is to test the skills of students in the senior design studio in designing a project for a complex program on a challenging site. The competition stipulates that the jurors are to consist of three Knowlton School faculty members, a local practitioner, and a nationally recognized architect. Kay Bea Jones, professor of architecture, served as the coordinator of the senior design studio and organizer of the competition.