The way in which people interact with parks and open spaces has remained relatively unchanged for generations, but in contrast, the design of these spaces has been continuously evolving. The new Sherbourne Common, Corktown Common and the revitalized Tommy Thompson Park stand as shining examples of the most recent evolution in downtown park design, each boasting bright modernist pavilions and unique landscape features reflecting the context of the site and its surroundings.
At the former mouth of the long since buried Garrison Creek, the present day intersection of Bathurst Street and Fort York Boulevard has broken free of its industrial interim, and is located in what is now the heart of a growing mixed-use district. Next to Context Developments’ under-construction Library District Condos and the attached Toronto Public Library branch (the city’s 99th), a new park has been planned to reflect the site’s rich historical lineage as well as to connect residents of the adjacent high-rise community to the Fort York National Historic Site to the west.
Designed by landscape architecture firm Public Work in partnership with E.R.A Architects, Mouth of the Creek Park will straddle the southern retaining wall of the rail corridor and cross underneath the approach to an 110 year-old steel truss bridge that carries north-south traffic on Bathurst Street. The bridge will allow for a new east-west cycle and walking path to be grade-separated from the north-south traffic. The path will link the SkyDome area and points further east through CityPlace, on through Mouth of the Creek Park to Fort York and the western waterfront, and via the upcoming Fort York Pedestrian Bridges to the new Garrison Point, Liberty Village, and King West neighbourhoods.
Plans for the park call for six “zones of interpretation”; each reflecting different elements of the site’s natural geological and human-influenced changes over the course of history.
Incorporating play areas for children into modern urban parks can be a tricky task. The vibrant hues often employed to engage the interest of kids can easily compromise a design’s overall aesthetic, and it is difficult if not impossible to tie a swing set and slide into the surrounding context. The solution at Mouth of the Creek Park will be a large archaeological play area, which from the information made available seems like an educational twist on the classic sandbox.
While the archaeological play area is an intriguing concept, the other zones of interpretation seem like they will turn out to be just as interesting: over a dozen swings are set to be hung from underneath the Bathurst Street bridge, while other parts of the park are being designed as amphitheatre space and an overlook of the area.
The park will incorporate various visual elements including an area called the 'image wall'. We are sure a few people will be confused when the initial panels of blank concrete go up, but as soon as the rain falls, patterns and images will be revealed thanks to a state-of-the-art concrete treatment which appears blank when dry and becomes visible again when water is applied. It doesn’t have to be rain either; an impromptu super soaker war would certainly do the trick.
The unique landscaping of the site has been designed to reflect the original mouth of Garrison Creek, and although it is difficult to gauge from the renderings and diagrams seen above, this image of the plans superimposed on a historic map help to provide a better understanding of the design and its historical context.
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