Many of those images in the PDF present unprecedented style for a Toronto park. The walkway composed of concrete islands (assuming it is a walkway) or the underpass walkway with intersecting stairs have an air of sophistication.
Not too sure how much content there is in that presentation but I like how the small parks on the waterfront have turned out so far and I'm sure this park will continue the tradition.
On a side note I love that grass wave park. Conceptually awesome, completely impractice and unsustainable in practice I'm sure. I'd love to see the expression on some maintenance worker's face when they're like "buddy, mow this".
An artist's touch: design inspiration
Globe and Mail
Mar 29, 2008 R5
To rock people's world is the job assignment of any artist. To rock it while bowing to the constraints of site, structure and budget falls to the not-so-lucky, slightly beleaguered architect. Both may be creative types, but because of the nature of their work, artists and designers have to think differently. Which is why artists such as Douglas Coupland and Jill Anholt, both of Vancouver, are being asked to lend their unfettered minds to the making of parks and civic architecture.
Undoing conventions of design is a necessary kick in the mind. Introduce a celebrity artist and watch how condo units will sell faster than it takes for the paint to dry. Witness the West Village condominium in New York designed by artist and film director Julian Schnabel, dolled up with arched windows and painted a lurid pink - a move which apparently tickles the fancy of those willing to pay $4,000 per square foot to get inside, and horrifies those occupying the minimalist glass towers down the street.
In Canada, the designs of some parks and structures are being invigorated by artists, not as afterthoughts, like pieces of public art that get plopped in the middle of windswept plazas, but as key members of the design team. For a civic square outside the main entrance of the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Richmond, B.C., Janet Echelman - an American sculptor who shapes urban space - has created a water-sky garden featuring a diaphanous, monumental net suspended over a storm-water collection pond and a series of other water features.
Coupland has been engaged by developer Concord Adex to provoke conceptual ideas for Cityplace, a park which occupies a crucial parcel of land alongside the Gardiner Expressway at the heart of a massive condominium tower development in Toronto. Over the course of a half-dozen meetings, Coupland deviated from the convention of imagining a coherent landscape narrative with respect for water drainage and eco-systems to push, instead, for iconic ideas such as a towering toboggan run or a Terry Fox miracle mile. He stacked old books which he had spray-painted and arranged them on a large table as a series of topographic grades and plateaus.
Though the park is still waiting approvals, some of Coupland's original energy has made it to construction drawings, including a massive bluff on the park's western flank, a land form to be topped by an abstracted canoe created by Coupland.
Despite the delays, the design process produced some mind-releasing experiences and the realization that design doesn't always have to play it safe. At one point, together with Vancouver-based landscape architects Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Coupland played in giant sand boxes built to scale to mimic the configuration of the actual park. "That was a hoot," recalls principal Greg Smallenberg. "Rather than using a foam-core model, working with the sandboxes was much more free-form and fun."
The creative team responsible for designing Sherbourne Park, also on the Toronto waterfront, has distinguished itself for its seamless and exhilarating collaboration. The eight-acre park includes a stand of birch trees and some water channels that stretch from the edge of Lake Ontario north across Queen's Quay to Lake Shore Boulevard.
As well, the park reinforces the civic commitment to sustainability through innovative storm-water capture by the public agency, Waterfront Toronto. Anholt, a public artist who teaches at the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in Vancouver, worked on the park competition scheme with Smallenberg from the outset and contributed her ideas of creating art from a water filtration system over the course of design development.
The storm water for what's called the East Bayfront development will be filtered and cleaned in a large city reservoir. The elimination of bacteria, however, will be accomplished not in an underground chamber but within the park in an ultraviolet filtration system for all to see. A sheet of glass covers the water at the point of filtration to protect visitors' eyes from harmful UV rays. "Sherbourne Park is really an expression of sustainability," says Anholt, who has designed several steel chutes some 10 metres high which peel up from water channels. The purified water then drops down large metal scrims as a clean water curtain and, at the south edge of the park, runs into the lake.
The pavilion is set against a large water feature - during the winter it becomes a skating rink for about 200 people - and connects to a pathway running across the park and to the watercourse that runs down to the lake. Architect Stephen Teeple says he didn't want to create an "iconic" object in the park, but something that links the major elements of the civic space.
The integration the art is changing the face and complexity of civic developments. "Years ago, when I'd get these public art calls," recalls Anholt, who was trained both as an artist and as an architect, "there'd be an X on the site that somebody had decided was an appropriate spot for a work of art. It was very difficult to work from that."
Anholt was engaged by Vancouver architect Peter Busby to consult on the development of the Centre for Interactive Research and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia to create an off-the-grid, beguiling building. She worked on ways to layer extra meaning into the faÃ§ade by specifying an electro-chromic glass technology that allows the pixilated image of a tree to appear in the glass and to slowly change colour during the day. The project is currently on hold, but, should it be built, sustainable architecture will be lyrically enhanced.
And so, at last, artists have been brought to the table. They're working with architects, landscape architects, graphic and lighting designers, sustainability experts and engineers. Sure, collaborations can mess up schedules and lead a client into a minefield of egos. But there are unexpected pleasures. When a celebrity writer or artist is involved, suddenly people start to listen up. Extra credibility is given to ideas that a developer or city bureaucrat might have previously rejected out of hand.
"I don't think the collaborations set out to be good or bad," says Smallenberg. "It's just the energy that people bring to them. For Sherbourne, the initial meeting said that the distinction between the landscape and the art has to be blurred. Jill has brought a deeper conceptual thinking."
East Bayfront prime for redevelopment -- let's hope they get it right
By MIKE FILEY, TORONTO SUN
Over the years there have been many plans put forward to redevelop Toronto's waterfront. Some, like the Harbourfront (now Harbourfront Centre) plan of the early 1970s that resulted in acres of neglected commercial and industrial space being turned over to the public, have succeeded.
Others that have resulted in a hotel and a string of condominiums stretched out along the water's edge westerly from the foot of Yonge St. have, in the opinion of many, been less than appropriate.
And even though much has been said about keeping what little is left of the open space facing Toronto Bay in the public realm, projects such as the proposed Pier 27 condominium proposed for the land east of the Yonge St. slip seem to contradict this aspiration.
But there is a ray of light. Waterfront Toronto (formerly the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp.) recently announced plans that, when competed, will result in 55 acres of largely underutilized land south of the Gardiner Expwy./Lake Shore Blvd. corridor between the Jarvis St. slip to the west and the Parliament St. slip to the east being transformed into a "people friendly" mixed-use area to be called East Bayfront.
This new neighborhood will come complete with a two new parks, Sherbourne Park (to be located at the foot of Sherbourne St., a thoroughfare named for the hometown in Dorset, England of pioneer settler Thomas Ridout) and Aitken Place Park (the name of the latter recalling Alexander Aitken, the province's deputy surveyor who prepared many of our community's earliest maps). In addition there will be a 1.5 km promenade extending along the water's edge. Sounds like a real people place.
From an historical perspective very little has been written about this part of the city. That's because in the beginning everything south of the railway corridor (now used primarily by VIA and GO trains) was under water. It wasn't until the Toronto Harbour Commission (now the Toronto Port Authority) presented its original harbour development plans in 1912 that any consideration was given to reclaiming what was called, even back then, the East Bayfront.
However, while things were extremely active west of Yonge St. and farther out at Sunnyside on the shore of the old Humber Bay, a great many years would pass before any real work was done along the shoreline between Yonge and Parliament.
What finally prompted officials to start in earnest on the reclamation of the East Bayfront area was the belief that the governments of the United States and Canada would soon approve the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a subject that had been under discussion since soon after the end of the Great War. And the timing of the reclamation project was perfect since the TTC needed a place to put the thousands of cubic feet of material crews were removing from under Front and Yonge Sts. as work progressed on building the country's first subway.
By the time the Seaway was ready for business in 1959, docking facilities for Toronto-bound ocean-going freighters as well as several large warehouses had been built on land that only a few years earlier had been part of Toronto Bay.
Over the years, and for a variety of reasons, the amount of shipping visiting the Port of Toronto has decreased significantly. This fact has resulted in the East Bayfront becoming a prime candidate for redevelopment. Let's hope they do it right this time.
if cityplace park, june callwood park, the waterfront slips and other public space developments belong in Projects and Construction than so does Sherbourne Park and the Bloor Street Transformation. i think we'd be getting alot more information and photo updates if they were in that section. considering how important these projects are i say the move should be swift and forceful!