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New $6 million gift to support students at John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

From left: Architecture students Isabel Amos, Avery Clarke and Zoona Aamir. The model is by Raymond Garrioch

John and Myrna Daniels Foundation Opportunity Awards will help students who demonstrate both financial need and academic merit

John and Myrna Daniels’ philanthropy has been a game-changer for architecture education in Canada.

This week, the John and Myrna Daniels Foundation gave an additional $6 million to help students who might not otherwise have the chance to pursue studies at the University of Toronto, adding to an already impressive legacy of support for the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and for its students.

This latest gift brings the couple's support to $30 million.

“Like John Daniels, creative people across the Daniels Faculty are thinking of ways to design better communities that reflect a commitment to social uplift,” says University of Toronto President Meric Gertler. “Today the Daniels Faculty is a globally recognized school and at the forefront of city-building.

"This is due primarily to the transformative philanthropy of John and Myrna Daniels, whose most recent support will ensure that qualified students will have the means to pursue an excellent education.”

The new gift adds to the Daniels Faculty’s endowment and will benefit students far into the future. It will also help ensure that the faculty can attract, and remain accessible to, high-ranking, deserving candidates. Recognizing the importance of this gift, U of T will match the annual payout on the endowment for students, thus doubling the impact. The John and Myrna Daniels Foundation Opportunity Awards will support students who demonstrate both financial need and academic merit.

John H. Daniels is an architect and veteran developer with a keen passion and track record for building socially sustainable and livable urban environments. He is the former chairman and CEO of Cadillac Fairview Development Corporation, and founder of The Daniels Corporation, one of Canada’s pre-eminent builders and developers. Some of the corporation’s most renowned projects in Toronto include the redevelopment of Regent Park and the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Festival Tower.

“This is the most recent in a number of catalytic gifts from John and Myrna to the Daniels Faculty,” says Dean Richard Sommer. “Thanks to their incredible commitment and support, our students are tackling the very real challenge of transforming Canada’s urbanizing cities and landscapes. We are extremely grateful to them; their generosity will enable us to compete for talent globally and help ensure that our school plays a leading role well into the future.”

The couple serves among the honorary chairs of U of T's Boundless campaign. Their first gift of $14 million, in 2008, helped create the John and Myrna Daniels Scholars Award and provided capital support for the school’s expansion. To date there have been 81 John and Myrna Daniels Scholars, all professional master’s students with financial need, and some are notably the first in their families to go to university. Through their studies, the scholars – and, indeed, students across the faculty – have been exploring the various ways that design addresses 21st-century challenges, such as the relationship between growing inequality and cities, architecture and human health, digital technology and craft-construction, and data analysis and sustainable development.

A second major gift of $10 million from John and Myrna Daniels, in 2013, made it possible for the Daniels Faculty to undertake an ambitious transformation of One Spadina Crescent, where the school is located today. Toronto architects, alumni and the business community continue to make donations to One Spadina’s ongoing capital campaign, supporting a project that has been acknowledged by Toronto architecture critic Alex Bozikovic as “one of the best buildings in Canada of the past decade.”

“This latest commitment from John and Myrna through their charitable foundation brings their visionary and generous commitment to $30 million,” says David Palmer, vice-president of advancement. “Their support has helped the Daniels Faculty attain a new level of global leadership. It now attracts the finest young minds and faculty from Canada and internationally, who are dedicated to creating more livable communities for people around the world.”