Following nearly two years of planning and public consultation, the Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) in conjunction with the City of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), and with the participation of local residents, has finalized the design plan for the revitalization of historic Grange Park in Downtown Toronto. With funding provided by contributions made on behalf of Mr. W. Galen Weston, the City of Toronto, and the AGO, bids for the construction work have been tendered, the project on target for completion by July, 2017.

Grange Park, overhead view of restored elliptical carriage path, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Originally built in 1820 for the Boulton family, The Grange comprised a two-hectare site complete with the main house (still extant), which included a large formal garden and grounds framed by a stately, elliptical carriage path which disappeared in the twentieth century once the estate became a public park. Nearly two hundred years later, the plans now underway for the park's revitalization will feature the restoration of the carriage path to its former dimensions, a nod to The Grange's rich heritage. 

Grange Park, view of new seating and improved flowerbeds and green space, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Other improvements will include, the addition of 60 new trees, bringing the total to 180, along with more flowerbeds and gardens, and several new water features. In addition to this, the park will expand to a former small parking lot that will allow it to seamlessly meet up with Butterfield Park, under OCAD U's "table top" Sharp Centre. Altogether, it expansion will account for a sizeable, 10% increase in total green space.

Grange Park, decorative water feature, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Seen in the images above and below, the revitalized Grange Park will include several new water features, including a rocky, somewhat naturalized waterfall and stream (above), at the north end of the park, while a new splash pad and play area will feature an illuminated water jet feature (below), which will light up with different colours at night.

Grange Park, illuminated water jet feature, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Family-and-kid-friendly space will feature prominently in the new design, with two new playgrounds—one for younger children to be built in the park's northeast corner, and one for older children to be built on the park's east side—to be a signature part of the revitalization plan. The new custom play equipment will feature fun, creative shapes, sizes, and uses, the renderings below featuring designs by Earthscape, in conjunction with landscape architects PFS Studios and Thinc Design. For a closer look, the following video and accompanying renders highlight the details of the new play areas, offering viewers a glimpse of how the park will appear once complete:

Grange Park, playground for younger children, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Grange Park, playground for older children, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Children will not be the only ones to receive a new play area, the addition of a large, fully-enclosed, off-leash dog run, will ensure that visitors of all sorts will be able to enjoy the park. For the unencumbered, area residents and visitors to the park will be able to enjoy the addition of more bench seating, as well as the creation of a new gathering space, to be placed right in front of the historic Grange mansion, to be used for live performances and special events. Furthermore, all of the park's new features will be made much more accessible thanks to the planned removal of much of the park's fences and other barriers. In their place, a host of new pedestrian entrances, paths, and access points from the surrounding streets will be added to help improve flow and general accessibility. 

Grange Park, new gathering space in front of The Grange, rendering courtesy of GPAC

In order to enhance the connection to the AGO, the iconic sculpture, "Large Two Forms" by Henry Moore, will be relocated from its current position—currently out front of the gallery's main entrance along Dundas Street—to a new home nestled close to the restored carriage path on the west side of the park. In addition to this, the south elevation of the AGO will receive a new entranceway which will face out onto the park. This new entrance will allow visitors to the AGO to enter the free access area of the Weston Family Learning Centre, while regular admission to the galleries will continue to be processed and controlled via the AGO's main entrance on Dundas. 

Grange Park, "Large Two Forms" by Henry Moore, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Grange Park, new AGO south entrance, rendering courtesy of GPAC

Once complete, the new-and-improved Grange Park should be a major boon for the neighbourhood, with the park in its current state already a popular outdoor green space for the area's many residents, OCAD students, dog-walkers, and others. The Grange Park revitalization will also be an asset both to the AGO, and to the City of Toronto, the park in its re-imagined form to be a welcome addition to one of the city's most popular public galleries and tourist attractions.

UrbanToronto will continue to monitor this project as progress continues over the next two years. For more information, visit our dataBase file, linked below. You can get in on the conversation in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  PFS Studio, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg