With great joy for our city and nation, this week was open to the public the wonderful urban architectural complex dedicated to the promotion of Muslim culture built by the Aga Kahn Foundation, comprised of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto.
Two buildings with different complementary uses, united by a minimalist landscape offer visitors a contemporary space, with open and closed areas in a privileged site; allowing the feel that the flow of natural elements like water, earth, light and air, can still be found in a prime urban location.
The Aga Khan Museum, unique in North America was conceived as an educational institution in the fields of art and Muslim culture in order to promote knowledge and understanding within their societies and other cultures. The need to reduce the increasing division and misunderstandings between cultures of the Middle East and the West was the key factor for His Highness the Aga Khan, in the decision to undertake a project of this magnitude. Canada, world leader in its commitment to welcome immigrants with different traditions and beliefs that share common values, was the country chosen by the foundation to house the museum and from there to meet the objective of deepening the understanding between different cultures, essential for peace and progress in the world. Toronto has a significant concentration of Muslims and offers a strategic location that allows reaching an audience of over 60 million people within an hour's flight.
The museum was designed by renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki in a contemporary style with simple lines and sloping profile where light plays a major factor, treated with unique skylights. The first floor contains a central courtyard comprised of glass panels with Arabic patterns which figures are consistently reflected by the sun's rays. The permanent exhibition offers a number of unique pieces from different Muslim cultural manifestations showing its influence from the Middle East to North Africa and Europe. The second floor houses temporary exhibitions, including modern artists. The auditorium has a majestic dome with geometric and light shapes reminiscent of a nineteenth-century Iranian bazaar. A cozy restaurant offers delicacies from the Middle East with magnificent outdoor views.
The Ismaili Centre was designed by Charles Correa, renowned architect and planner from India. The heart of the building is a majestic glass dome with metal structure that serves as a sacred place of prayer. The building offers various meeting rooms, as well as informational and study areas to learn about their culture and religion. Large windows decorated with intricate patterns are used to separate private and public spaces and in all the cases natural light and walk out to open air terraces is a constant feature.
Lebanese landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic, joined the two buildings using a geometric composition of infinity pools aligned with a precise selection of trees, offering a state of calmness perfect to admire the vegetation and landscape that changes with the seasons. The reflection of all the elements, influenced on the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal, offers a magical visual spectacle not to be missed.
Let us seize the opportunity presented by these new spaces to awaken our intellectual curiosity and recreate our senses.
We would like to highlight an article in the National Post as of May 3, 2014 with data source presented by Clay Gillespie, a Royal Group Financial Advisor and Managing Director. With a simple graph, it is easier to digest the information and though some of the assumptions may need to be reviewed for each particular case, it gives a clear picture of the amount of funds needed for a basic lifestyle in retirement.
The following assumptions were considered:
(1) retirement age of 65
(2) portfolio 60% equity & 40% fixed income
(3) maximum OAS $522 per month
(4) average CPP $633 per month
(5) income indexed at inflation rate.
In short, if you would like to have a $50,000 yearly income once you turn 65, depending on your life expectancy you will need savings at that time of $302,000 to reach age 75, $506,000 to age 85 or $582,000 to age 90.
If you aspire to have a yearly income of $70,000, when you turn 65 you will need to have accumulated $471,000 to reach age 75, $788,000 to age 85 or $906,000 to age 90.
There are many other aspects we all need to include and it is important to take into consideration the tax exemption provision of the principal residence. As Real Estate Prices have been continuously increasing over the past 12 years, there has been a good portion of home owners who decided to cash out and benefit from price appreciation avoiding capital gain tax, which may be considered double dipping. A little newspaper clipping from this week's activity may trigger some thoughts.
Often times we get carried away by the day to day responsibilities and do not take a moment to plan for the future.
Regardless of what stage of our lives we are in, if you have not done so, this may be the opportunity to start thinking and doing something about it, as time really flies.