The Evolution of a City Builder

BAIDA x B+H x TAS Impact

April 28, 2023

A loud voice in this industry is an important and strong asset. We must continue to share the stories and experiences that shape us as designers and city builders. – Gail Shillingford, Principal of Landscape and Planning at B+H.

On the evening of April 26th, B+H, in partnership with TAS Impact and the Black Architects and Interior Designers Association of Canada (BAIDA), hosted a live discussion entitled The Evolution of a City Builder. Over 50 young design professionals and students gathered in B+H’s Toronto studio to exchange knowledge and hear stories of how Toronto’s leading urban design and real estate professionals grew their careers toward global design influence. The event featured presentations from Gail Shillingford, Principal of Landscape and Planning at B+H Architects, and Mazyar Mortazavi, President and CEO of TAS.


Following opening remarks from Farida Abu-Bakare, Chair of BAIDA, and Patrick Fejér, CEO of B+H, Gail took the floor. A leader at B+H, Gail spoke about her unique career spanning landscape architecture, urban design, and master planning. She shared insights into her experience as a black female designer and spoke about how she reached award-winning success for herself as well as for her clients and partners. Gail’s story impressed upon the values of perseverance, strength, and community collaboration as she continues to reach new milestones as a designer and mentor for others.

Mazyar joined Gail in sharing his own story of how he started his career as a student of architecture before diving into real-estate development with passion, commitment, and determination to create positive community impact. Speaking directly to the students in the audience, his story opened the floor to a lively discussion about the broader applications of an architect’s skills. 


The event culminated with breakout groups and tours of the studio. Students had the opportunity to explore collaboration tools, model-making technology, and design libraries.

At B+H, we aim to use our studio as a hub where we can welcome the community in to exchange knowledge and ideas and facilitate conversations with likeminded organizations focused on how we can make a positive impact on our city’s urban fabric. We are humbled to be able to use our studio to host an evening full of important and meaningful conversations that sought to inspire a future generation of designers. Above all, the event was a testament to the importance of diversity and representation in architecture, planning, and development.