January 8, 2018

Spotlight: Matt Belaen from IBI Group discusses the TO DO Festival


The Toronto Design Offsite Festival is coming to #YongeStClair for the first time THIS month from January 15-21st, 2018.

There will be a week’s worth of art and festival programming anchored by three immersive installations designed by leading architecture and design firms Gensler, IBI Group and Superkül.

We had the chance to catch up with Matt Belaen who is an architect from the firm IBI Group here at Yonge + St. Clair.  Read below to learn more about the installation Matt and his team have put together titled ‘The Space Between’, and more about his views on city building.

Can you give us some background on IBI and its approach to city building?

IBI focuses on a fully integrated approach to city building, from the human experience on a day to day basis, to systems/technology, transportation and infrastructure. With each project, regardless of complexity and scale, we try to engage expertise of all our design professionals.

What are IBI’s guiding principles?

IBI’s Smart City strategy aims to use technology to raise its urban IQ, directly improving quality of life, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability. At its core, these are the guiding principles:

1. Focus on the quality of city life
2. Make life in cities healthier
3. Consider all aspects of modern city building today
4. Quality experience for people regarding public and open space, the interface of buildings with the public realm
5. Technology Integration and Systems
6. Transportation and mobility

This is the first year the TO DO festival is at Yonge + St. Clair. What was the thinking behind “The Space Between”, it’s concept of the “Nest”, and it’s relevance to the community and public space?

We wanted to tie in all of our expertise that we have available, while also making the process completely open and democratic. Everyone should have the opportunity to provide feedback and speak about public space. At the initial meetings, we took in feedback from approximately 35 team members from all design groups; Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Design, Interior Design, Healthcare, Systems and Intelligence, Transportation engineering, and Design and visualization staff.

Team members identified pertinent issues regarding the public space in general, within the City of Toronto and specifically the mid-town area, through a series of workshops. The “nest” works as a metaphor that allows us to speak to the circulation networks and gathering spaces that form and define public space and the transitional spaces between the fully public realm and the private. It also allows us to gather the ideas and points of view of our staff and public regarding their interpretation of public space.

How important was gathering mapping data of the area to inform the design of “The Nest”? Can you share some of your findings with us?

Over the course of several weeks, participating IBI staff members volunteered their GPS travel data while in the mid-town area. Our systems and intelligence staff collected and overlaid the data mapping staff circulation patterns in the area. Through a series of transformation to make the data graphically and artistically suitable for the installation, points of contact, common points or interaction, frequency and location of contact points etc. will be represented.


The Space Between” is one of three installations that will be up during the Toronto Design Offsite Festival here at Yonge + St. Clair from January 12-21. You can view the installation by visiting 55 St. Clair W
Hours are Mon-Fri 9am-6pm

To find out what else is going on during the festival, be sure to visit our main page HERE.