Design Above All—Toronto Architecture


I love Nikon, ever since I was old enough to notice my father using one to take pictures. And I love Porsche, ever since I first laid eyes on the blur of a “whale tail” 911 Turbo as it roared past me on the autobahn when I was eight. I’ve been able to afford the former, the latter will be forever out of my reach. Well, almost.

When those two loves joined together for a photo contest it was a match made in heaven, a contest to good to pass up. The criteria of the contest was simple—they wanted pictures of rooftop design and architecture to commemorate the launch of the 2015 Porsche 911 Targa. Winning a Nikon Df camera would be cool, but having three days to shoot and drive the new 2015 Porsche 911 Targa would be awesome.

Porsche 911 Targa

Porsche Targa 4 / Targa 4S
Engine: 3.4L / 3.8L
Horsepower: 350 / 400
Torque: 288 / 325 lb-ft @5600 rpm
0-100 km/h: 5.2s / 4.8s
Top Speed: 282 kph / 296 kph
Fuel Consumption City(Hwy): 11.4 (7.6) / 11.6 (7.8) L /100km
Dimensions (L x W x H x D): 2,450 x 1,852 x 1,304mm
Price: $ 115,900 / $132,600


Nikon DF
Pixels: 16.2 Million
Sensor Size: 36.0mmx 23.9mm
Continuous Shooting Speed: 5.5 frames per second
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100 -12,800
Monitor Size: 3.2 in. diagonal
Dimensions (W x H x D): 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
Weight: 710g
Price: $3,299

Themed photo contests are great because they force you to step out of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what i was doing. This one was particularly easy because you weren’t limited to one image, you could enter as many times as you wanted.

So with the encouragement and advice of what to shoot from my brother, an architect based in Michigan, I drove into Toronto early on a Sunday morning to shoot architecture, something I’ve never really done before.

Here are some of the pictures which I ended up with. I related each picture of the architecture back to the Porsche Targa with varying degrees of success.

ROM_Michael Lee Chin Crystal

ROM Michael Lee-Chin’s Crystal, Toronto
Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Completed: 2007
Cost: $270 million or 2,382 Porsche Targas or 81,819 Nikon Dfs
While the Rom’s Crystal has been controversial and often referred to as one of the world’s ugliest buildings, a sharp contrast to the Porsche 911 which through the course of time has undergone continuous development while staying true to the original design.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Architect: Frank Gehry
Completed: 2008
Cost: $276 million or 2,330 Porsche Targas or 83,637 Nikon Dfs
The billowing glass facade, looks like a glass ship drifting through the city. But for practical reasons, most would prefer to be drifting through the city in a high performance, race inspired car based on the original designs of Ferdinand Porsche.


OCAD University Sharp Centre for Design, Toronto
Architect: Will Alsop
Completed: 2004
Cost: $42.5 million or 367 Porsche Targas or 12,879 Nikon Dfs
While the table top structure is conventional, it makes efficient use of space for classrooms, studios, etc. The Targa’s design is not conventional, but it has become a timeless classic just as the Sharp Centre for Design will be.


Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto
Architect: James Cheng
Completed: 2012
Like the roof of the Porsche Targa, the all glass “ice cube” which will house a pool and restaurant, gives panoramic views, while the Zhang Huan sculpture “Rising”, like the Porsche insignia, give a hint of the power that lies within.


Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto
Architect: Arthur Erickson
Completed: 1982
Cost: $57 million or 492 Porsche Targas or 17,273 Nikon Dfs
Roy Thompson Hall’s circular architectural design exhibits a sloping and curvilinear glass exterior similar to the glass found on the Porsche Targa.


City Hall, Toronto
Architect: Viljo Revell, Bruce Kuwabara
Completed: 1965
Cost: $31 million or 268 Porsche Targas or 9,393 Nikon Dfs
Nicknamed “The Eye of the Government” for the way it looks from above, and like the design of the first Porsche 911, this futuristic looking building was a head of its time and remains that way today.


Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, Toronto
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Completed: 1992
Sometimes referred to the crystal cathedral of commerce, this six story high atrium is filled supports which branch out into parabolic shapes and the facades of historic buildings along the sides of the structure, give the feeling of walking along a city street under a canopy of trees. The historic buildings are a tribute to the buildings and architecture of yesteryear. Similarly, every redesigned Porsche 911 is a tribute to the original.

Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, TorontoArchitect: Santiago CalatravaCompleted: 1992Captured at the same location as the previous picture, just facing the opposite direction.  This picture was not entered into the contest due to the contest rules saying that you cannot submit the same Photo, or substantially the same Photo, more than one time.  I chose to enter the previous picture instead of this one on the advice of my brother, the architect, who said the previous picture was more architectonic...yes, he said that.  I didn't even bother to look it up.

Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, Toronto
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Completed: 1992
Captured at the same location as the previous picture, just facing the opposite direction. This picture was not entered into the contest due to the contest rules saying that you cannot submit the same Photo, or substantially the same Photo, more than one time. I chose to enter the previous picture instead of this one on the advice of my brother, the architect, who said the previous picture was more architectonic…yes, he said that. I didn’t even bother to look it up.


White Lipped Snail, Toronto
Architect: God
Completed: Unknown
Cost: $0 or 0 Porsche Targas or 0 Nikon Dfs
Despite the zero drag coefficient at top speed, the sleek lines and aerodynamic curves are wasted on this house on wheels. The rooftop design is simplistic, practical, and functional, while the painted swirls on the exterior walls and roof evoke thoughts of a never ending vortex. Also, like the Porsche when the petal is put to the metal, the White Lipped Snail leaves tracks wherever it goes.
*This photo was not accepted in to the gallery of images. I suppose the designated content moderator decided that it did not abide by the rules for the contest and did not fit their vision. I still feel this is the perfect example of thinking outside the box…Ferdinand Porsche would have been proud

I didn’t want to see the gallery of submissions prior to going out myself so i wouldn’t be influenced by anything that was there. The three winning images were to tour Porsche dealerships across Canada when the vehicle launches this summer, but I couldn’t envision how the images would be used.

After submitting my entries, I browsed through the other entries along with this video from Porsche, what they were looking for became much more clear and I quickly came to the realization that I wouldn’t win the contest.

I had framed the pictures by landscape standards, composing so the entire building was in view, but a lot of the images that were there and in the Porsche video were much more abstract. So I went back though my pictures and found one of the atrium at Brookfield place which was a tad more abstract and submitted that one as well.

Calatrava Toronto

Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, Toronto
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Completed: 1992
Calatrava’s creation is bright, breathtaking, and beautiful…just like a Porsche 911 Targa

So I didn’t win the contest, but I did enjoy the experience immensely. Shooting something different was fun. It also made me see architecture in a different light, rather than just something that you walk by. And even just being in the city on a non-business day early in the morning when the city has a completely different feel to it was something I’ll definitely do again.

Here are the winning images as selected by Porsche & Nikon and posted on the Nikon facebook page.

porsche by design nikon canada contest winners

The three winning entires, of nearly 400, in the Porsche by Design photo contest: Robert A. of Calgary, Martin E. of Strathmore, and Ando R. of Montreal.

A couple of interesting footnotes to this contest. The website was gone about a week after the winning contestants were to be notified. The only reference I could find to the winning images was on the Nikon Canada Facebook page in a post dated May 29, but that has also since been deleted. It’s as if the contest never happened. So if something untoward should befell me, accidental or not, a copy of this post has been placed in a security box at my bank.


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Comments 2

  1. Hi, I happened to come across your page regarding the Design Above All photography contest. I really enjoyed your write-up of the contest and thought to leave you with a brief update since just like me, it looks like you invested quite a bit of time to the contest. I was selected as one of the winners of the contest (I took the black and white photo) and i must say it really was a dream come true. I won the Nikon Df camera, as well as the opportunity to drive the Porsche 911 Targa. I spent three full days in July driving the Porsche with my wife around Calgary one day, up to Banff the next and finished off with a trip to Drumheller on the last day. Along the way we stopped by to take lots of photos of the car to later give back to the contest organizers, as per the agreement for winning the contest. Being an avid landscape and automotive photographer as well as massive Porsche enthusiast, this was truly fulfilling a life-long dream. After the trip I had submitted my photos to the contest organizers. Unfortunately, there seemed to be some sort of disagreement with either the contest organizers or sponsors regarding the second phase of the advertising campaign (apparently one of the winners might not have followed through completely on their part) and so nothing was ever done with the final photos (they were supposed to be showcased in Porsche showrooms across Canada). It was a bit of a sad moment for me since I might have spent more time simply enjoying the car however the experience was nonetheless something I will always treasure. If you would like to see some of the resulting photos, you are welcome to take a look at this link: . I hope that helps give you some closure as to what ended up happening to the contest. Thanks, and best of luck with your photography business!

    1. Post

      Hi Robert, thanks so much for you comment. Congratulations for winning the contest too. It must have been awesome driving that beaut around for three full days. Giving it back must have been a difficult thing to do. I checked out the pics that you took of the Targa too, and they are awesome! It must have been pretty disappointing that your work was not featured as part of the advertising campaign. I’m sure it was some kind of miscommunication between the two companies, but you would think they would be able to make something happen. I know having the pictures I took in Porsche showrooms would have been a thrill for me. I loved the whole contest prize package top to bottom. Too bad the entire experience had to end that way for you, leaving a somewhat sour taste in your mouth. Nonetheless, you got a lot in return for this contest that I’m sure you will remember for a long time. Cheers!

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