Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
  • James Parakh

About James Parakh

James Parakh is an award winning architect who leads the Urban Design Studio for Toronto & East York District of the City of Toronto's Planning Division.

James is highly regarded as an international authority in the field of Tall Building Urban Design through his role as Chair of the CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee. A role that he has had since 2014. In his role as CTBUH UH/UD Committee Chair James has written several research papers on tall building urbanism as well as being a principal author of two CTBUH Technical Guides: The Space Between and the Space Within Tall Buildings.

No other city in North America has experienced as much tall building construction as Toronto has over the last decade and a half. During this time, James has lead the urban design studio that has helped guide the review of development in Downtown Toronto and surrounding urban areas. A portfolio that…


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About James Parakh

James Parakh is an award winning architect who leads the Urban Design Studio for Toronto & East York District of the City of Toronto's Planning Division.

James is highly regarded as an international authority in the field of Tall Building Urban Design through his role as Chair of the CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee. A role that he has had since 2014. In his role as CTBUH UH/UD Committee Chair James has written several research papers on tall building urbanism as well as being a principal author of two CTBUH Technical Guides: The Space Between and the Space Within Tall Buildings.

No other city in North America has experienced as much tall building construction as Toronto has over the last decade and a half. During this time, James has lead the urban design studio that has helped guide the review of development in Downtown Toronto and surrounding urban areas. A portfolio that includes well over 300 tall buildings ranging in height from 15 stories to over 95 storeys.

James is also Vice-Chair of the Design Review Panel for Canada's Capital City of Ottawa and also serves on design panels for the National Capital Commission (N.C.C.). James is also frequently invited to participate on or chair international design juries for Tall Building Design for both the CTBUH as well as for WAN (World Architecture News) Awards.

Prior to joining the City, James was a lead designer with WZMH Architects, Toronto where he oversaw the designs for projects in Canada, China and the United Arab Emirates. Among the projects he was the lead designer of, included the ING Bank headquarters in Toronto, Parc Island in the Dubai Marina, U.A.E., Etisalat Headquarters in Sharjah and Fujairah, U.A.E and The Shaghai Pudong Development Bank Tower in Pudong, P.R.C.

James main interests are in how Tall Buildings fit within their urban context including a greater understanding of the role of a tall building on a City Skyline as well as how Tall Building's meet the streetscape. James is also very much interested in quality of life issues and how tall buildings affect the quality of life of people that live or work within them. Issues such as how Tall Buildings affect the public realm and the spaces created in between Tall Building's.

James holds a Bachelor of Technology in Architecture Degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, A Masters of Architecture Degree from the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston and a Master of Science in Urban Design Degree from Columbia University in New York.

CTBUH Involvement

  • Awards Urban Habitat Jury (Chair 2018; Chair 2019; Chair 2020)
  • Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee, Chair (2014 – Present)
  • Expert Peer Review Committee (2016 – Present)
  • Past Roles:
  • Advisory Group (2014 – 2018)
  • Awards Jury (2015; 2016)
  • Height and Data Committee (2014 – 2017)
  • Annual Conference, Keynote Speaker (Middle East 2018)
  • Annual Conference, Presenter (Shanghai 2014; New York 2015; China 2016; Australia 2017; Middle East 2018; Chicago 2019)
  • Student Competition Second-Round Jury (2017, 2018)

Events/Initiatives Involving James Parakh

CTBUH Canada Tours Monde Condominiums

13 Mar 2019, Tour Report – CTBUH Canada hosted a construction tour of Monde Condominiums, a 44-story…

Two New CTBUH Technical Guides Released

8 Nov 2018, CTBUH Publication – The CTBUH has released two new Technical Guides, focused on Façade…

Record Numbers Convene at 2018 Leaders Meeting

Record Numbers Convene at 2018 Leaders Meeting

20 Oct 2018, Event Report – CTBUH Leaders convened on Day 1 of the 2018 Middle East Conference for updates on…

Events/Initiatives Involving James Parakh

CTBUH Canada Tours Monde Condominiums
13 Mar 2019, Toronto – Tour Report
CTBUH Canada hosted a construction tour of Monde Condominiums, a 44-story residential building designed by Safdie Architects and Quadrangle.
Two New CTBUH Technical Guides Released
8 Nov 2018, Chicago – CTBUH Publication
The CTBUH has released two new Technical Guides, focused on Façade Access and Maintenance and Skyspaces in Tall Buildings.
Record Numbers Convene at 2018 Leaders Meeting
20 Oct 2018, Dubai – Event Report
CTBUH Leaders convened on Day 1 of the 2018 Middle East Conference for updates on the year's developments and to plan for 2019.
Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee Meets at 2018 Conference
20 Oct 2018, Dubai – Event Report
The CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee met for the first time this year at the 2018 Middle East Conference in Dubai.
CTBUH Canada Conducts Construction Tour of Eau Du Soleil
29 Aug 2018, Toronto – Tour Report
CTBUH Canada hosted a tour of the ongoing construction of Eau Du Soleil, a twin-tower condominium development with unobstructed views of the lake and the city of Toronto.
CTBUH Canada: Supertall Toronto
29 Nov 2017, Toronto – Event Report
CTBUH Canada held a breakfast event to showcase Toronto's first supertall, The One, which will stand at 307 meters tall and is currently under construction.
6th Annual CTBUH International Student Design Competition
31 Oct 2017, Sydney – CTBUH Research
The winner and final rankings for the CTBUH International Student Design Competition, kindly sponsored by Woods Bagot, were determined at the 2017 CTBUH Conference in Australia.
CTBUH Urban Habitat/Urban Design Workshop Held at 2017 Conference
29 Oct 2017, Sydney – Event Report
The CTBUH Urban Habitat/Urban Design Committee held its third annual meeting and workshop, which included presentations by James Parakh and Chris Proctor.
CTBUH Leaders Connect at 2017 Conference
29 Oct 2017, Sydney – Event Report
The Annual Leaders Meeting was held the day before the start of the CTBUH 2017 Australia Conference, bringing together the Council’s leaders.
Five Finalists Selected in the Student Design Competition
19 Oct 2017, Chicago – CTBUH News
CTBUH is pleased to announce that five finalists have been selected in the 6th annual International Student Design Competition kindly sponsored by Woods Bagot.
2017 Global Walking Tours: The Space Within Tall Buildings
21 Jun-7 Jul 2017 – Tour Report
The CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee organized its fourth annual Global Walking Tours, which took place in 15 cities around the world.
2016 Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee Meeting
16 Oct 2016, Shenzhen – Event Report
The annual Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee meeting was held in the TENCENT Mansion room I on the ground floor of the Grand Hyatt Shenzhen.
2016 CTBUH Leaders Meeting Report
16 Oct 2016, Shenzhen – Event Report
The Annual Leaders Meeting was held this year in conjunction with the 2016 Conference in China, bringing together the Council’s leaders from around the world.
Debating Tall: Regional Governments for Megacities?
16 Oct 2016, Chicago – CTBUH Journal Paper
In the CTBUH Journal 2016 Issue IV, two experts debate on what type of government body should be in charge of the issues that growing megacities face.
CTBUH 'UH'PDATE October 2016
4 Oct 2016, Toronto – CTBUH News
The fourth issue of CTBUH 'UH'PDATE provides information on some of the early events and studies of the Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee.
Global Twilight Walking Tours
25 Aug 2016, Chicago – Tour Report
The CTBUH UH/UD Committee organized its third annual Global Walking Tours in 13 cities around the world, examining public spaces in a twilight setting.
Toronto Regional Tour
29-30 Oct 2015, Toronto – Tour Report
CTBUH 2015 delegates toured Toronto under the lead of CTBUH Canada. The highly successful tour led to many discussion on the lessons learned.
CTBUH 2015 Height Committee Meeting
25 Oct 2015, New York City – Event Report
After providing a snapshot of the Height Committee’s duties and past actions since its last meeting, Height Committee Chair Peter Weismantle led a discussion on a series of topics.
Warm Weather Spaces Walking Tours 2015
17 Sep 2015 – Tour Report
The CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee organized guided walking tours of 16 cities around the globe, focusing on urban habitats around tall buildings.
CTBUH ’UH’PDATE April 2015
28 Apr 2015, Toronto – CTBUH News
The third issue of CTBUH 'UH'PDATE 2015 goes over the Parramatta analysis plan, abstracts for CTBUH New York Conference and the committee member's involvement around the world.
CTBUH ’UH’PDATE February 2015
26 Feb 2015, Toronto – CTBUH News
The second issue of CTBUH 'UH'PDATE goes over the success of the 7 Cities Winter Walking Tours and welcoming 5 new committee members.
Seven Cities Winter Spaces Walking Tour
29 Jan 2015 – Tour Report
The new CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee organized a highly successful Winter Spaces Walking Tour in seven cities around the world.
CTBUH Canada Tours ICE Condos at York Center, Toronto
19 Nov 2014, Toronto – Tour Report
The CTBUH Canada chapter hosted a tour – ironically during an early winter snow storm – of the ICE Condominiums.
CTBUH ’UH’PDATE November 2014
28 Oct-6 Nov 2014, Toronto – CTBUH News
The first CTBUH 'UH'PDATE provides information on some of the early events and plans of the newly formed Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee.
CTBUH Leaders Discuss Ways to Broaden Council Membership
15 Sep 2014, Shanghai – Event Report
The leadership of the Council convened in the Leaders Meeting to participate in discussions about how to widen the Council’s reach and effectiveness.

See all initiatives involving James Parakh

James Parakh Related Resources

Polycentric vs. Monocentric: The Future of Vertical Urbanism?

22 Oct 2018 – CTBUH 2018 Middle East Conference
Chair: Steve Watts, alinea Consulting; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Koon Hean Cheong, Housing & Development Board; Helen Lochhead, University of New South Wales; and Peter Murray

Public Realm Q&A

18 Oct 2016 – CTBUH 2016 China Conference
Javier Quintana de Una, IDOM; Albert Chan, Shui on Land Limited; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Martin Henn, Henn

CTBUH Video Interview – James Parakh

18 Oct 2016 – 2016 China Conference Interviews
James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department

See all videos

Polycentric Cities: The Future of Vertical Urbanism

Oct 2018 – CTBUH Journal 2018 Issue IV
CTBUH 2018 Conference Speakers

The Space Between: Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings

17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism
James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Division

Debating Tall: Regional Governments for Megacities?

16 Oct 2016 – CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue IV
James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Thomas Wright, Regional Plan Association of New York

See all papers/research

James Parakh Related Videos

Polycentric vs. Monocentric: The Future of Vertical Urbanism?
22 Oct 2018 – Presentation at CTBUH 2018 Middle East Conference; Chair: Steve Watts, alinea Consulting; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Koon Hean Cheong, Housing & Development Board; Helen Lochhead, University of New South Wales; and Peter Murray
Numerous cities are now developing along polycentric lines, with several urban “nodes” focused around tall building clusters that often compete for commerce, attention and investment within the same city. This dispersed approach to urban density…
Public Realm Q&A
18 Oct 2016 – Presentation at CTBUH 2016 China Conference; Javier Quintana de Una, IDOM; Albert Chan, Shui on Land Limited; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Martin Henn, Henn
Tuesday October 18, 2016. Shenzhen, China. Javier Quintana de Una, IDOM; Albert Chan, Shui on Land Limited; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Martin Henn, HENN, answer questions at the end of the 2016 China Conference Session 6a:…
CTBUH Video Interview – James Parakh
18 Oct 2016 – 2016 China Conference Interviews; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department
James Parakh of the City of Toronto Planning Department is interviewed by Chris Bentley during the 2016 CTBUH China Conference. James discusses the design elements of successful public spaces.
The Space Between: Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings
18 Oct 2016 – Presentation at CTBUH 2016 China Conference; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department
This presentation was intended to introduce the upcoming CTBUH technical guide titled "The Space Between," which investigates the importance of publicly accessible spaces surrounding tall buildings. Urban spaces featured in the technical guide range…
2015 New York Conference - Session 2c - Q&A
26 Oct 2015 – Presentation at CTBUH 2015 New York Conference; Panel Questions & Answers
Robert Cotter, Jersey City; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; and Craig Schwitter, BuroHappold Engineering, answer questions at the end of 2015 New York Conference Session 2c: At the Urban Scale.
The Network of Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings
26 Oct 2015 – Presentation at CTBUH 2015 New York Conference; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department
This presentation focuses largely on the Toronto context and investigates the network of urban spaces surrounding tall buildings, the tall building as place makers and how tall buildings meet the street. As contributing elements in the fabric of the…
Interview: James Parakh
18 Sep 2014 – 2014 Shanghai Conference Interviews; James Parakh, Toronto City Planner
James Parakh of the City of Toronto is interviewed by Chris Bentley during the 2014 CTBUH Shanghai Conference at the Jin Mao Tower. James talks about Toronto's Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) program and how cities can react to urban sprawl.
Monthly Video: Five Minutes with James Parakh
18 Sep 2014 – Monthly Video Series; James Parakh, Toronto City Planner
James Parakh of the City of Toronto is interviewed by Chris Bentley during the 2014 CTBUH Shanghai Conference at the Jin Mao Tower. James talks about Toronto's Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) program and how cities can react to urban sprawl.…
Measuring Tall Buildings: Has CTBUH got its Height Criteria Correct?
18 Sep 2014 – Presentation at CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference; Peter Weismantle, CTBUH Height Committee Chair / AS+GG; Terri Meyer Boake, University of Waterloo; James Parakh, Toronto City Planner; Antony Wood, CTBUH / IIT / Tongji
One of the roles of the CTBUH is to be a “voice of reason” as the arbiter of building height claims, and to be consistent in the application of its criteria. Every few years, a question that provokes a review of the appropriateness of the criteria…

James Parakh Related Papers/Research

Polycentric Cities: The Future of Vertical Urbanism
Oct 2018 – CTBUH Journal 2018 Issue IV; CTBUH 2018 Conference Speakers
As we approach the new normality of cities housing 10 million or more inhabitants, those best positioned for the future are evolving along polycentric, multi-nodal lines, with several central business districts, ideally all offering something…
The Space Between: Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings
17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Division
This paper is intended to introduce the upcoming CTBUH technical guide titled “The Space Between,” which investigates the importance of publicly accessible spaces surrounding tall buildings. Urban spaces featured in the technical guide range in scale…
Debating Tall: Regional Governments for Megacities?
16 Oct 2016 – CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue IV; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department; Thomas Wright, Regional Plan Association of New York
The 2016 CTBUH Conference, “Cities to Megacities,” explores the phenomenon of already large cities merging together to form megacities, in parallel with many cities and their suburbs becoming increasingly polycentric. This creates myriad issues,…
The Network of Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings
26 Oct 2015 – Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City; James Parakh, City of Toronto Planning Department
This paper investigates the Network of Urban Spaces Surrounding Tall Buildings, the Tall Building as Place Makers how Tall Buildings meet the street. As contributing elements in the fabric of the City, Tall Buildings often have associated Urban…