My internship with…. the Toronto Society of Architects by Pardis Safdari

In the fall of 2021, a number of students took part in the Canada Constructed internship opportunities, under the course code FAH481H1 in the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto. Here, fourth-year student Pardis Safdari reflects on her internship experience with the Toronto Society of Architects…

Tell us a bit about yourself and your internship experience!

Hi everyone, name is Pardis and I would first like to start off by acknowledging and expressing my gratitude to the Indigenous Peoples and the land on which, I live-study-work on, as it has been for thousands of years, the traditional land of the Seneca, the Huron-Wendat, and Mississaugas of the Credit, and presently, home still to many Indigenous Peoples across the Turtle Island.

Currently, I am in my last year of study at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. I am majoring in architectural studies and minoring in urban studies. 

Pardis Safdari, 4th-year student in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

At the beginning of this past fall term, I came across the opportunity to apply for varying internship programs offered through the Department of Art History. I was selected to help out the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA), with their Indigenous Spaces Database. 

Left and bottom right: Gete-Onigaming (The Carrying Place Trail). All three images form part of the Indigenous Cultural Markers, Humber College North and Lakeshore Campuses, Toronto, 2018, Indigenous Design Studio, Brook McIlory. Photos by Tom Ridout, courtesy of Brook McIlroy.

With the guidance of the TSA’s Programming Director, Joël Léon, my initial responsibility was to research buildings, landscapes, and installations within the Greater Toronto Area, that would serve as possible database entries.

This internship […] allows for students to “test the waters” so to speak… to experience the varying possibilities and determine what path they’d like to pursue.

Following the collection, categorization and assessment of possible entries, I then worked to coordinate and collect external photographic images, concept drawings, and renderings from architectural studios. I had the wonderful opportunity of partaking, and later on, conducting interviews with principal architects and partners, to gain additional insight on the chosen projects. 

To date, I would note that the highlight of my internship experience has been connecting with and learning from Brian Porter and Matthew Hickey of Two Row Architects, Michael Belmore (Indigenous artist, maker and sculptor), Brook McIlroy, LGA Architectural Partners, and DTAH. Our conversations with them have allowed me to gain better understanding of their work. Looking at the bigger picture, I will be employing points of our conversation regarding design philosophy, materiality, worldview, time and design process(es) (and more) in the text of each entry in the database. 

Left: The Ravine, Trillium Park, Toronto, 2017, LANDinc in collaboration w/ West 8. Moccasin stencil designed by Philip Cote (part of the province-wide Moccasin Identifier Project). Right: The Ring, Gould Street and Nelson Mandela Walk, X University, Toronto, 2020. Two Row Architect with the Indigenous Community at X University. Photos by and courtesy of Joël Léon.

While the term of my internship has ended, I have continued to volunteer with the TSA and I am evermore drawn to the work—primarily for the fact that all of the architectural courses I have taken, have excluded any conversation regarding Indigenous architecture, world views, and sustainability (which have been around for +30000 years).

This internship, unlike others, allows for students to initiate networking early on in their educational and occupational journey. As well, it allows for students to “test the waters” so to speak… to experience the varying possibilities and determine what path they’d like to pursue.

I would like to end off by thanking everyone who has been involved and helped and guided me in this process—and more to that, reminding me of my presence everyday on this land and within the holistic time and history.

Thanks, Pardis!

Want to get involved? For more information on current internships visit our Internships page.

You can also contact info@canadaconstructed.ca directly with questions.


This project is supported by the Learning & Education Advancement Fund at the University of Toronto

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: