“We continue to receive comments on how stunning the building is. Light, air, elegance, accessibility – these are the words that come to mind. It is a sleek and fluid space that interacts with the grounds in which it is set. It has been widely acknowledged as a ground-breaking model of Universal Design. From an operational and business perspective, the new facility has been remarkable. We have seen ways in which the building itself has acted as a catalyst for change, actually impacting and improving how we serve our Clients and how we do business.”

Gary Baldey, Senior Director of Property, CNIB

Introduction to the practice

Expertise in a diverse range of skills combined with the ability to lead our clients to a better solution is what separates The Finlayson Practice from other firms. Our studio covers a lot of ground: urban design and master planning, sustainable and universal design, retail and brand management, visualization and project management.

We believe there is always a story behind good design.  The development of strong concepts inspired by an understanding of the context and the people it is meant to support is our objective and our passion.

Our strength is in being able to provide fertile ground for meaningful collaboration with clients and consultants . At the core of our philosophy is a belief that design is increasingly complex and not the work of an individual. Knowing how to sustain this collaborative environment where people can strive towards the shared goal of delivering remarkable results is the essence of our success.  We get results that engage, introduce new dynamics make people think, make them happy, make their life better, ultimately uplifting the spirit and invigorating both cityscape and landscape.

Introduction to MJ

The Practice is led by Mary Jane Finlayson, who brings over 30 years of experience to the studio. As a LEED AP and member of the Universal Design Alliance, Mary Jane promotes innovative design that incorporates principles of sustainability and accessibility actualizing architecture’s power to improve quality of life.

While her work has a unique architectural style and aesthetic, it also respects the more practical issues related to function, cost and achieving best use and value. Mary Jane’s work with major corporations has resulted in the creation of smart buildings with sophisticated interiors that provide a unique expression of the company’s brand.

Mary Jane led the campus plan and subsequent architectural projects for Branksome Hall, the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Trinity College and the Land Use Management Master Plan for the Toronto District School Board’s 14-acre property at Bloor and Dufferin. She has also designed several architectural projects with the Toronto District School Board, Branksome Hall and several residential projects of varying size.

Mary Jane has taught studio courses at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design and enjoys being a guest critic.  She continues to contribute professionally, having authored a comprehensive review of the profession for the Ontario Association of Architects and served on the Canadian Architectural Certification Board, the OAA Executive Council and various OAA committees.

“There is a great deal to pay attention to. So much of what we call “consciousness-raising” is as simple and as essential as being able to imagine what it is like to walk in someone else’s moccasins. This building – so thoughtfully designed and executed, so in tune with the CNIB’s mission to foster equality and independence – will certainly amplify the Institute’s ability to serve the visually impaired. For the sighted, as well, this is a fascinating place that stimulates all the senses, that offers many ways to open our minds to the challenges and to the abilities of the blind.”

“This is how a place that was built to be useful becomes, in its own way, a work of art. The artists in any culture are there to help us to see, and of course we are not talking about physical eyesight. It’s insight that we’re after. Whatever our sensual, physical and intellectual gifts might be, we hope to use them to better understand our natural context, our fellow human beings, and the structures that we build together.”

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
CNIB Official Opening Comments