The TWRC was established in 2001 during the Olympic Bid. If we had won that bid, we would have had a revitalized Portlands built and ready by next year. Instead we are in the year 2007 and we are still in the "design" stage for many projects?
Ummm. Comparing the current plans to that of the Olympic bid is a tad ridiculous - a sports complex to an actual community that isn't just some developer's brainstormed high density plan (not that I'd expect a MCC supporter to comprehend the difference)
The Olympic Village plan would have included the Athletes Village for 12,000 people south of the channel. It would have been an instant community following the Games, complete with parks, schools, and retail outlets.
Furthermore, the Media Village for a further 10,000 people would have been built on what is now the West Don Lands.
Queen's Quay East would have been completely revitialized and included an LRT line to the Portlands, the new Cherry Street GO Train station completed, Union Station platform built and the Gardiner Expressway burried in time to get it out of sight. Oh, and you can bet the transit link to the airport would have been in place already and Union Station renovated.
Not to mention a new 100,000 seat stadium, an aquatics complex and the International Broadcast Centre which would have been converted into the Film Studio afterwards.
The punchline: it is possible to get major projects such as the waterfront planned, built and ready in a timely fashsion. It just takes vision, leadership, drive and money to get it all done. Something we can all agree is lacking in Toronto at the moment.
Actually, the 2008 Olympic plan didn't contemplate doing anything to the Gardiner.
Timely in the sense that the Olympics required it - yes - but since we didn't get it, there is no overwhelming reason why everything had to be completed right now. In fact, I think the plans put forth by TWRC is in all likelihood superior to what would have been built if we got the games.
New element will take shape on waterfront
ROBERT OUELLETTE, National Post
Published: Saturday, February 03, 2007
The city's announcement yesterday of another waterfront park competition signals Torontonians are waking up from a century-long nightmare, one where we wilfully turned our back on a public waterfront that could rival the Riviera's.
The proposed Lower Don Lands Park is another element in a public space renaissance intended to make Toronto a global leader in waterfront development.
Soon, new parks will edge the lakefront all the way from Etobicoke to Scarborough. In fact, the overall project is so big in scale and optimistic in vision it seems uncharacteristic for the city.
Look at the recently proposed Lake Ontario Park: Extending from the Harris Water Filtration Plant in the east to the end of the Leslie Street Spit, the 375-hectare park boasts 37 kilometres of total shoreline.
The park unites three major city districts: The Beach, the Spit and the Cherry Street industrial lands (they call those lands the Bar -- as in sand bar). In tying these districts together, the master planners, Field Operations of New York, refer back to the landscape of an earlier Toronto waterfront for their design inspiration.
As long-time city residents know, sandy soil eroded from the Scarborough Bluffs is swept westward by prevailing lake currents. That process defines the shape of the city's outer harbour.
When Europeans first arrived here, Fisherman's Island, created by erosion, protected the mouth of the Don River where it emptied into Ashbridge's Bay. The lost island is now buried beneath the industrial landscape near Unwin Avenue and Cherry Street. The new park will remediate the now polluted land and celebrate the forgotten island.
The nearby man-made spit will become more of what it already is -- a thriving nature wilderness. A modern marina will take shape in the bay where the spit and the former industrial lands meet.
The eastern Beach district will get a series of new recreational and cultural amenities.
City planners intend this park to be an international landmark on par with New York's Central Park or, in a Canadian context, Vancouver's Stanley Park. The agency responsible for bringing these plans to life -- the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation-- thinks big.
John Campbell, TWRC's president and CEO, says in the future when people think of Toronto they will first think of Lake Ontario Park. "Cities are defined by the quality of their public spaces," argues Campbell.
It is a big project with a big budget. When finished in a generation or so, the entire east to west waterfront revitalization project will represent an investment of about $4-billion in public money and $17-billion to $20-billion in combined public and private funding. According to Campbell, it may just be the largest waterfront project in the world.
Don Schmidt of Diamond and Schmidt Architects notes, "The revitalization project is absolutely thrilling. What is really remarkable is that right now we have three or four of the world's top landscape architects in the city working on these projects."
It is money well spent. We know from City Hall's Creative City research that this kind of investment is a critical part of Toronto's 21st century economic strategy. Offering knowledge workers a livable city will be essential to our future global economic competitiveness.
We will also need enjoyable leisure spaces for relief from the increasing urban density that is part of Toronto's future. Ted Tyndorf, Toronto's chief planner, says that by 2031 Toronto's population will grow by 540,000 from its 1996 census figures.
The city's population projections may be conservative, given we have another 20-some years of growth ahead of us.
A modern, environmentally sustainable waterfront where we can retreat from the demands of the city will be an essential part of Toronto's future. Our children will thank us.
We're attracting the best
Feb 03, 2007 04:30 AM
Toronto is fast becoming a meeting ground for some of the best landscape architects in the world.
That ground is located on the waterfront, where at least 12 major projects â€“ parks, beaches and whole neighbourhoods â€“ are underway.
The latest project to be launched, the $65 million Lower Don Lands Innovative Design Competition, has attracted a gaggle of internationally renowned practitioners. The shortlist, released yesterday, includes five firms chosen from the 29 who entered. They are:
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, New York, with acclaimed Toronto planner, Ken Greenberg. MVVA is already familiar with Toronto's waterfront through its work at Don River Park, now under construction.
Weiss/Manfredi Architects, New York, much admired for the recently opened Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, an exquisite waterfront project that has many lessons for Toronto. Local partner is highly respected DTAH.
Atelier Girot and Landscape Morphology, Paris, who have worked throughout Europe.
Hargreaves Associates, whose San Francisco project, Crissy Field, transformed a military airstrip into a waterfront park. Their local Toronto partner is the Hough Group.
Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Cambridge, Mass., with Brown & Storey, the small Toronto architectural practice best known for Yonge-Dundas Square.
Organized by the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp., the competition is a complicated one.
"It's the spot where the West Don Lands, the East Bayfront and Docklands all connect," explains TWRC vice-president of development, Chris Glaisek.
"It's the hole in the doughnut. It's a very complex site with various competing demands: naturalizing the mouth of the Don, redeveloping private lands including the old Victory silos and The Home Depot property, and everything east of Cherry St.
"The firms have been asked to come up with an integrated strategy that deals with transit, roads, social and recreational needs.
"We want to pick a team that's creative and visionary, but that also has a demonstrated ability to work with technically complex projects."
The teams have been invited to an orientation session on Friday. They will have eight weeks to prepare their submissions. The winner will be announced April 30.
"When finished in a generation or so, the entire east to west waterfront revitalization project will represent an investment of about $4-billion in public money and $17-billion to $20-billion in combined public and private funding. According to Campbell, it may just be the largest waterfront project in the world."
Dude, 20 billion dollars is the amount of money siphoned from waterfront mega-projects by corrupt officials in developing nations before breakfast.
Rival top guns love that Docklands mix
Feb 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Everywhere but in Toronto, this city's waterfront has become the object of international attention.
Far-flung architects and landscape architects are trying to figure out the best ways to transform a derelict, severely damaged area into a place Torontonians can live, play and be proud of.
Here at home, the cynicism continues. The Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. brings the best practitioners in the planet to suggest solutions and we complain that they're from away. Local people are hired and they're not good enough to do the job.
If there were any doubt that Toronto is its own worst enemy, look no further than the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
Fortunately the tireless and well-calloused souls at the TWRC are able to carry on regardless â€“ and that's exactly what they're doing.
Last week, they organized a day-long briefing for the four teams that made the short list to redesign the Lower Don Lands. The important 40-hectare site includes the mouth of the Don River as well as the entrance to the Port Lands. It connects the communities being planned for the West Don Lands, the east Bayfront and the Docklands, which will eventually be home for up to 100,000 residents.
Though it is too soon for these teams to have come up with concrete proposals, they're obviously excited about the possibilities, even if Torontonians aren't.
"This is a fantastic project," enthused Chris Reed of Stoss, a Boston practice that specializes in landscape urbanism. "You've got a severely damaged inner core with a mishmash of discontinuous urban fabric. We need to understand what each of these systems means and how to reintegrate them. It's incredibly challenging."
Stoss is partnered with Brown & Storey and ZAS Architects, both of Toronto.
For Weiss/Manfredi of New York, recently acclaimed for the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, the opportunity to work in Toronto is something the firm has wanted for years.
"Toronto is an international city," said Michael Manfredi. "And this is an extraordinary opportunity. We like infrastructure and we like challenges; this site has plenty of both."
Weiss/Manfredi has joined with du Toit Allsopp Hillier, one of Toronto's pre-eminent architectural offices, for the project.
Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh of New York has assembled a stellar team that also includes Behnisch Architects of Los Angeles, Great Eastern Ecology of New York, and Ken Greenberg of Toronto.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," Greenberg declared. "This is the first time in my memory that Toronto has taken a whole series of complex technical and engineering issues â€“ naturalizing the mouth of the Don, flood protection, transportation, light rail, clean-up, development â€“ and dealt with them as a part of a larger pattern of relationships and connections. Traditionally, we have handled these matters as a series of discrete projects. The authorities have realized that the best way to go is with multidisciplinary teams. I'm optimistic because this has to happen. There has been a long period of frustration and pent-up desire; the question now is whether we can overcome jurisdictional gridlock."
The fourth team â€“ Atelier Girot, Zurich; Office of Landscape Morphology, Paris; and ReK Productions, Toronto â€“ is equally excited by the competition.
"For us, the interesting thing is the idea of restoring nature," Cristophe Girot explained. "Urban nature is a central theme for us. Today the site is marginal. It's an environment of neglect and degradation; it's marooned. But I have great expectations. I can see a lot of potential to recreate neighbourhoods, new developments, a new environment and restructure the city."
Regardless of who wins, it's already clear that Toronto is an ideal candidate for this new multidisciplinary approach, one more focused on the big picture than on individual elements therein.
The city, comprised of countless disparate parts, desperately needs to be knit into a larger whole. The subtext is that of connection; after decades of dividing the city into discrete areas, each dedicated to a separate function, we have relearned the value of joining things together, of mixing them up and creating urban diversity.
So far, diversity is something we talk about in strictly racial terms; but the word also applies to cities. We need not fear complexity; it will make us stronger.
Its too bad Hume does not find our impatience understandable (and it is understandable in light of the history of our waterfront). That being said, it appears that the end result will probably be amazing and worth the wait. We appear to have a lot of good chefs in the kitchen.
After reading the RFP the image of the Gardiner reflected in the Keating Channel has struck me as a very powerful Ã½mage. Has anyone ever thought that the GardÃ½ner might be Torontos version of the Promenade Plantee?