Building Magazine


Public space competition calls for big ideas from young people for chance to win $5,000

With Toronto experiencing a period of immense growth and an influx of young people returning to the city, public space is more important than ever before.

That’s where the 2015 NXT City Prize, presented by Oxford Properties, comes in. Building on the success of its inaugural year, the 2015 NXT City Prize asks young people under the age of 35 to submit big ideas to improve public space anywhere in the City of Toronto. The winning submission receives a $5,000 cash prize together with the chance to have the idea implemented. Category winners each receive a $1,000 cash prize.

This year’s competition theme is “Opportunity” – how can we create new economic, social, or environmental opportunities through public space? How can we connect people in new and meaningful ways? More importantly, how can we make our public spaces great?

Along with the grand prize award, category prizes are available for the best submission by an individual or team under the age of 18, best technology-focused public space idea, best idea for energy & sustainability in public space, and best idea in one the City’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.

An all-star roster of judges, including fashion mogul Joseph Mimran, Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, and the Design Exchange’s Shauna Levy, will select the winning entries based on creativity, originality, how well they tie into the theme, and how feasible they are to implement. Submissions can be done individually or in teams of up to four.

“NXT City is an opportunity for our city’s greatest asset – its youth – to help address one of its most pressing challenges – access to high quality public space,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. “We are thrilled to be a part of this process again this year.”

“Engaging with the communities we serve is something we are very proud of, and a tradition that has been a part of our culture for over 55 years. Oxford is excited to support the NXT City Prize and the big ideas that will shape this city” said Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO, Oxford Properties.  

“City building is traditionally a time-consuming and costly process” said Distl co-founder, Mackenzie Keast. “What we’re creating with the NXT City Prize is a lightweight, distributed network of civic improvement ideas that go above and beyond what cities themselves can develop in-house.”

Imagined by urban strategy studio Distl and presented by Oxford Properties, the 2015 NXT City Prize is also generously sponsored by Toronto Hydro, Cityzen, Bell Media and the City of Toronto.

The competition opens May 4 with entries due by 11:59pm on July 31, 2015. Winners will be announced at an awards gala on September 24, 2015.

More information is available at

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