On January 26, 2016, Waterfront Toronto held the first public meeting on the reconstruction of the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and adjacent Harbour Square Park since the winning team for the proposal was announced last year. Shirley Blumberg from KPMB Architects, Jelle Terry from West8, and Ken Greenberg from Greenberg Consultant presented revisions to their plan, one that had beat out four competing teams to secure the proposal.
The meeting began with Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell showing her support for the "magnificent park and terminal" to come, while Waterfront Toronto's Vice President for Planning and Design Christopher Glaisek then provided the audience with an overview of the project's background.
The current ferry terminal was built in 1971, after the City of Toronto started a series of improvements to transform the Toronto Island into a popular destination, to replace the green spaces lost during the construction of the Gardiner Expressway along the eastern waterfront. More than 40 years after its construction, the increasing number of users and the dramatically different urban environment around the facility have raised several concerns about the aging structure and park. Through the complete revamp of the ferry terminal and neighbouring green space, Waterfront Toronto aims to visually and materially reconnect the terminal to the city, improve the waiting areas within and outside the terminal, as well as improve the passenger flow and ferry operations in a sustainable manner.
To achieve such, the team of architects explained how they have been working on connecting the ferry terminal and the park, thanks to what Ken Greenberg calls the "fusion between architecture and landscaping". Starting at the foot of Bay Street, the new ferry terminal will be given an address on Queens Quay with a wooden canopy similar to, but smaller than that of the terminal itself. Marking the entrance of the path leading towards the actual facility, the construction of the yet-to-be-designed canopy will be the opportunity to extend Queens Quay's signature landscaping through Harbour Square Park. Granite pavers and light fixtures identical to those found on the recently completed street will characterize this new promenade, further enhanced with six to eight new trees.
The parking garage ramp owned by the Harbour Square Residences will be maintained but reduced in width and length, which will allow for more park space to be created. The artificial mound covering the ramp will be completed with a second mound to the east, forming a valley-like space protected from the wind and providing hills for passersby to climb and admire the views from. Vitality will be added to the space by a cafe to be located within a small wooden structure, placed by the water.
Th park will be fully accessible, with granite-paved, tree-lined pathways. Vegetation similar to that found on the island will be planted. Jelle Terry's plan focuses on the concept of seasonality, where a wide array of plants, flowers and trees make for a constantly changing landscape within which there is always something to see, regardless of the season. Finally, a maple leaf-shaped splash pad and other play features scattered through the area will provide ferry passengers with an attractive landscape to enjoy while waiting.
The views of the structure and the lake when approaching the terminal have been enhanced, enabling visitors to see through the building towards the ferry boats. The terminal has been conceived like a subway or train station, allowing users to flow through the gates as they enter the building. Most passengers are expected to either have already purchased their ticket on the internet prior to arriving, or to be using their Presto card at the terminal gates.
Shirley Blumberg underlined that the green roof over the terminal will be accessible thanks to the undulating slopes of the wooden canopy, a "very Canadian material" according to the architect. Furthermore, the grass island resulting from the circular path will be open to the public, although other parts of the green roof will be protected from trampling. New openings have been added in the roof in order to let more natural light flood the sheltered space.
Other changes to the park's design include the reconstruction of the York Street slip with a fully accessible promenade. The Sundial Folly Park will be dotted with a playground and be connected to Harbour Square Park by a timber bridge equipped with gates, enabling the closure of the Harbour Slip and the creation of a skating rink in the winter. The promenade on the water's edge will be extended to both sides the Yonge Street Slip, thanks to a floating bridge. On the east side, a shed reminiscent of the original one on Yonge Wharf will mark the city's ceremonial dock.
On behalf of the Layton Family, Olivia Chow thanked the design team, Waterfront Toronto, and the audience for their interest on the project, and afterwards those in attendance were given the chance to share any concerns. The impact the potential sale of the adjacent Westin Harbour Castle may have on the project was among the concerns raised, and on this particular matter Christopher Glaisek answered that Waterfront Toronto has planned to meet with the City in order to share their vision for the possible reconfiguration of the site.
Other concerns were raised concerning the reconfigured parking garage ramp—deemed too steep by some—as well as the fate of the sky bridge connecting the residences to the Westin Hotel. Although the pedestrian bridge's fate has not been determined yet, the residents shared mixed feelings about whether or not it should be demolished.
Phase One of the redevelopment of the park and ferry terminal is expected to start later this year. The funding currently available will allow for the construction of the canopy fronting onto Queens Quay, and the promenade. No further information concerning the other phases of construction were announced. It was mentioned, however, than an RFP for new ferry boats will be presented to the City this Friday, without further details available for the moment.
In the meantime, many additional renderings of this project are available in our corresponding dataBase file. Want to get involved in the discussion? You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page, or visit the associated forum thread, linked below.
Correction: The article originally stated that Phase One would start in 2017.
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