Inclusive design the key to redeveloping Sudbury's Ledo Hotel, says architecture grad

Chris Baziw has spent a lot of time thinking about the Ledo Hotel, and how the building in the south of downtown Sudbury could be redeveloped in an inclusive way. It was the focus of his master's thesis.

Chris Baziw's master's thesis focused on how architecture can address homelessness

Chris Baziw's master's thesis focused on a plan to redevelop the Ledo Hotel site in a way that is inclusive of the people experiencing homelessness who spend time in the area. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Chris Baziw has spent a lot of time thinking about the Ledo Hotel, and how the building in the south end of downtown Sudbury could be redeveloped in an inclusive way. 

Baziw recently completed his master's degree at the McEwen School of Architecture, and his thesis focused on addressing homelessness through architecture. As part of his thesis, he created a proposal for a multi-use building at the Ledo Hotel site, something he hoped would bring people from different backgrounds together — renewing the area without pushing the existing communities away.

So when he saw a recent proposal from a private sector group that wants to redevelop the hotel, he was excited to see others saw potential in the site as well, but he hopes if the development goes ahead, it will focus on inclusive architecture. 

"Not disrupting, but kind of integrating … into a community that already exists," Baziw said. 

'Hostile architecture' 

Baziw chose to the topic of his thesis based on his own experiences volunteering for several years with the Elgin Street Mission. 

As part of his research, he focused on downtown Sudbury, and mapped out locations of "hostile architecture." 

"So spikes that you see on ledges of buildings, or fences meant to block off people from crossing across parking lots, or excessive signage about trespassing or loitering," are examples, said Baziw. 

Chris Baziw found many examples of hostile architecture and signage in downtown Sudbury. (Submitted by Chris Baziw)

Baziw said he found many examples of hostile architecture throughout the downtown, but found far less in the south portion, near the arena, the train station, and the Ledo Hotel. 

"What sort of became clear was that it was a lack of development in this area, and that there was a lack of people interacting and causing that conflict," Baziw said.

With plans for new developments in the area, including a new library and art gallery, Baziw worries more hostile architecture may creep in, and the people who currently spend time in the area, many of whom are experiencing homelessness, may be pushed out. 

Addressing social issues 

Baziw's vision for the Ledo site involved a building, built after a long stretch of public consultation, that would mix housing, storefronts, social services, and public space. He envisions a space that could be used by people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, rather than creating a "private ecosystem."

He hopes any developments that do go ahead will take a similar lense, by focusing on inclusive, or "compassionate" architecture. Examples of inclusive architecture can be as simple as building benches, rather than putting up spikes to deter people, Baziw said. 

Baziw's design for the Ledo hotel site includes large public seating areas. (Submitted by Chris Baziw)

While Baziw was glad to see a proposal for a development of the Ledo site, he says he was concerned by how the group addressed the social issues in the area. Le Ledo Group has said it will donate $150,000 to a local organization for outreach. 

"In a way, by giving money to another organization to deal with the problem, I see the group as sort of handing off the problem to someone else," Baziw said. 

As an area that is currently "untouched," Baziw says developing the site provides the perfect opportunity to create an inclusive space. 

Like Baziw, the private sector group behind the Le Ledo proposal see potential in the site. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"So it'd be really nice to see a similar sum of money invested in the design of the building on the site and how the designers are going to address their neighbour, the Samaritan Centre, or their neighbours, the people accessing it," Baziw said. 

In a statement to CBC, Le Ledo Group said it recognizes money alone will not solve social issues in the area, but that it hopes to contribute to "a vibrant downtown, that bridges the gap between those living on the margins and not." 

"Le Ledo aims to be an example of what an inclusive and improved downtown can look like."


Sarah MacMillan is a journalist with CBC Toronto. She previously reported in Sudbury, Ont. and Prince Edward Island. You can contact her at