When town planner Macklin Hancock took control of the development of Don Mills he was determined to hire only modernist architects to design the town’s institutions and residences and he proceeded to hire a roster of the best-in-class to execute his vision. Most of them trained in the Bauhaus School, or International Style in vogue in that era, and the group included such prominent names as James Murray, Irving Grossman, Henry Fleiss, Michael Back and, the most notable of all, John C. Parkin. Parkin later collaborated with Mies van der Rohe in designing the Toronto Dominion Centre but it was in Don Mills where he did much of his early work. Some of it has since been demolished, including the Don Mills Convenience Centre, the community’s original open-air shopping mall. But three of his most important structures, the Ortho Pharmaceuticals building, a Massey Medal winner, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, and Don Mills Collegiate Institute remain in tact. Completed in 1958, DMCI remains one of the central institutions that give Don Mills its special character, and its generous glazing and entrance portico supported by pencil-thin columns betray its modernist roots. In 2015, the school rated a respectable 7.1 (out of 10) in the Fraser Institute’s ratings of Canadian secondary schools. DMCI offers a gifted programme for its elite students, and is consistently represented at International Maths and Physics Olympiads. And its student population is very diverse: 60% of them come from homes where English is not the first language.
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