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Friday, May 1, 2009

Bike rack design by OCAD students

Justin Rosete and Erica Mach's bicycle rack design is about to be recognized by tens of thousands in the city of Toronto.

The 19-year-old second-year industrial design student at the Ontario College of Art and Design collaborated with second-year painting and drawing student Erica Mach to create the winning bike rack in a competition open to all OCAD students.

Their design – a row of four diagonal cherry wood columns more than three metres high – will be installed outside a new mixed-use building at Queen and McCaul Streets once construction is finished. There will be some tweaking of the design to make sure it conforms to municipal standards, make them more difficult for bicycle thieves and to finalize how it will be secured to the sidewalk and the number of bicycles it will hold.

Toronto Mayor David Miller was on hand for Friday's announcement of the Gateway Bike Stand Competition (Gateway refers to the competition being an entrance for the art world to participate in functional urban design) and the chair of the Queen St. W. Business Improvement Association is interested in using some of the top designs entered in the competition to beautify the area.

The attention and the possible influence of their design on Toronto's streetscape has been a bit overwhelming for Mach and Rosete, who credit their collaboration and their suburban upbringing for the winning concept.

"Growing up in Mississauga, you look at the city (Toronto) as an outsider," explains Mach, sitting inside an OCAD workspace next to a model of the winning design. "We didn't want to use some of the typical materials you see."

Rosete, who grew up in North York, says looking at a downtown urban space as a visitor for so many years made it easier for him to come up with something unique.

Mach hopes the design will encourage people to relate design with environmentalism. "You can use materials that aren't as environmentally destructive and are Canadian."

As for the "gateway" concept of the competition, both students like the idea of contributing to a more sophisticated Toronto streetscape.

"The mayor said these are the sorts of small initiatives we need to make a bigger change," Rosete says. "Toronto is trying to become the greenest city in North America. I hope this helps encourage bike use and new ways of looking at materials for design. It's good to help people realize that their everyday surroundings have a big impact on them."

"I'm just really happy that I've made a change to the street that I've been walking on for the last two years. It would be really great if our idea was implemented throughout the city. We could put them all around the world, using different materials, things that people haven't seen before on a bike stand."

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