With travel returning, Toronto’s Sam Mizrahi turns an eye to an evolving Vancouver

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      Many sacrifices were made over the past couple of years, one of the big ones being the way people around the world committed to staying home to help slow down the pandemic. 

      Canada was one of the frontrunners, not only placing restrictions on who was allowed to enter the country, but also discouraging residents from travelling between provinces. 

      As good Canadians, we dutifully complied, even though that meant accepting it would take a while to get out and see the world again.

      Toronto developer and entrepreneur Sam Mizrahi spent much of the pandemic like the rest of us, staying close to his family and the city that he’s grown to love since moving to Ontario as a child. And as rewarding as that was, there’s no disputing he’s as happy as the rest of us to see the country opening up again. 

      After all, if Mizrahi’s father taught him one thing as a child, it’s that there’s a beautiful wide world out there, and everyone should be making the effort to see it. 

      “My father travelled a lot, and he thought that seeing different cultures and experiencing different countries, at any age, created a positive imprint,” Mizrahi reflects. “He worked hard so he wanted to be able to enjoy, and to visit, new places with his family. He always wanted to take us to new places.”

      Vancouver is among the locales that made an immediate and major impact on Mizrahi when he first visited Canada as a child. At the time his family was living in Tehran, which it would eventually decide to leave for a new life in Canada. 

      “The trip went from Iran to England, then to Montreal and Toronto,” Mizrahi recalls. “Then we went to Vancouver, where we spent some time, then to Los Angeles, before flying back to Iran. And then we picked Toronto as a place to live.”

      The exploring didn’t stop there, with the members of the Mizrahi family often traversing the globe, spending time everywhere from North America to the Middle East, and Europe to Asia. 

      “One of the biggest trips that changed my perspective on things was definitely France, and Paris specifically,” Mizrahi remembers. “London also made a major imprint on me, as did Asia, specifically Japan.

      Spend enough time visiting new places – something that’s been almost impossible to do over the past two years – and you’re going to end up inspired, whether it’s soaking up the Haussmannien architecture of Paris, or futuristic neon-lit neighbourhoods of Japan. 

      “In New York you’ve got towers that are completely New York,” Mizrahi opines. “You’ve got the Swiss Re building in London that you know is totally London. You’ve got the Eye on the Thames that lets you know that you’re in London. Those types of focal points in the skyline identify a city and create a fingerprint, regardless of whether you’ve been there or not. It’s like a mental photograph.”

      With the world opening up again, Mizrahi is looking towards a future where he’s able to contribute to the architectural legacy of the West Coast. He remains enraptured by Vancouver’s natural beauty and laid-back vibe. But he’s also excited that there’s an opportunity to do something bold and daring in Lotusland. 

      For those that have never been to Vancouver, the city brings to mind things like the winding seawall of Stanley Park or the trails of the majestic North Shore mountains. Mizrahi’s future goals include giving the city a skyline-identifying focal point like The One, an architecturally adventurous building he’s currently building in Toronto. Designed by celebrated British architect Norman Foster, the 85-plus-storey skyscraper will serve as a mental Toronto photograph every bit as recognizable as the CN Tower. 

      Vancouver, Mizrahi suggests, has seen a sea change in its attitude toward what’s possible architecturally. Recall, if you will, how large swaths of the city’s residents were outraged at the daring, faux-Colosseum design of the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch when the project was first unveiled in the mid-90s. Today – much like the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris – the Moshe Safdie-designed library is admired, revered and loved.

      As the pandemic subsides, we’re finally moving back into a world where the thrill of getting on a plane, train or boat is once again an opportunity to explore new frontiers. The darkness of COVID-19 has lifted. It’s time to start discovering the magic of the world again.

      Vancouver is famous as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As boundaries continue to be pushed with projects like the Norman Foster-designed Jameson House on West Hastings Street or the Bjarke Ingels Group Vancouver House by the Granville Bridge, it’s also becoming one of the most interesting. 

      “I think people are way more open now,” Mizrahi suggests. “You can do things now that people never thought were possible before. There will always be naysayers, because for every blessing there’s a curse, and someone who’ll say something great can’t be done. But I think we’re really in a different world now where you can move boundaries faster and much more effectively than you could decades ago.”

      Learn more about Mizrahi Developments .