Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Black Architects and Interior Designers Association of Canada (BAIDA) gathered over 50 young professionals and students for an inspiring event Apr. 26, in Toronto. Hosted by B+H in partnership with TAS Impact, participants shared the journeys of how of two of Toronto’s leading city builders—Gail Shillingford, Planning & Landscape Principal at B+H, and Mazyar Mortazavi, President and CEO of TAS Impact—grew their careers. The event culminated in break out group discussions and tours of B+H’s new studio, located in the Financial District.
Farida Abu-Bakare – Co-founder of BAIDA
Currently the Director of Global Practice at WXY, Farida is a driving force for advocacy, mentorship, networking, and outreach for Black designers, architects, and city builders. In 2017, she co-founded BAIDA and has since led multiple mentorship programs, events, and summer camps for under-served and under-represented Black youth and young professionals.
“The event we hosted in partnership with TAS and B+H is a great example of how we can better educate, inspire, and mentor future generations of architects and designers. Many of our members are interested in how they can apply their skills to different facets of the design and development industries, and the stories that Gail and Mazyar shared help to broaden their understanding of where their careers can go,” says Farida.
Gail Shillingford – Planning & Landscape Principal at B+H
With a career spanning landscape architecture, planning, and urban design, Gail Shillingford has successfully integrated built forms and open space environments across North America for decades. Throughout her career, Gail has been a vocal champion of inclusive and equitable design, with a noted focus on developing collaborative processes where community and stakeholder engagement is paramount to the projects she leads.
“Speaking with BAIDA members, I’m reminded of the importance of sharing the stories and experiences that have shape us as designers, city builders, and people. In doing so, we can create space for a more diverse industry that better serves our communities,” says Gail.
Mazyar Mortazavi – President and CEO of TAS
Mazyar has led the evolution of TAS for over 20 years. His unique approach to real estate development and city building has centred on aligning purpose and profit. Speaking to the audience of young Black professionals and students, Mazyar spoke about how he applied his training as architect to real estate development.
“When I was an architecture student, I always found myself most excited by the potential posed by community development. Today, it’s important that the next generation of designers see how their abilities can meaningfully impact communities in varied and diverse ways,” says Mazyar.