The Bentway in partnership with the City of Toronto, Waterfront BIA, and Toronto Downtown West BIA, has revealed six proposals for the next phase of Waterfront ReConnect — a project aiming to improve the pedestrian experience at two intersections below the Gardiner Expressway.

Two groups of three shortlisted designs have been proposed for the intersections of Lake Shore Boulevard and York Street, and Lake Shore Boulevard and Simcoe Street, respectively. The proposals are available online for public viewing and input, and will be evaluated by a jury of design and arts professionals. One winning proposal for each intersection will be selected to be constructed in 2022, with the winners to be announced in mid-February. 

The intersection of Lake Shore Boulevard and York Street. Image courtesy of The Bentway.

“Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway cuts across the full length of the city, acting as both a physical and psychological barrier between the city’s core and its blossoming waterfront,” says The Bentway's website. Launched in 2019, the design competition prompts designers to explore innovative interventions as to create a more welcoming and accessible experience. This is not the first time a competition like this has taken place; the first ReConnect project at Lake Shore Boulevard and Rees Street opted to incorporate design elements such as bright reflective paint, enhanced pedestrian markings, and improved way finding.

For the York Street intersection, the shortlisted proposals are as follows:

Future Forest, by Sans façon + Zeidler Architecture (Calgary/Toronto), “contemplates what it would mean to re-designate the Gardiner Expressway as a productive, constructive, and an environmental investment for the city at large through the planting and nurturing of the Gardiner’s own native forest.”

Future Forest by Sans façon + Zeidler Architecture (Calgary/Toronto)

Waking the Shore, by LeuWebb Projects + DIALOG + Mulvey & Banani Lighting (Toronto), “features sculptural forms of rising waves, kinetic wind chimes, and solar-powered illuminations under the Gardiner.”

Walking The Shore by LeuWebb Projects + DIALOG + Mulvey & Banani Lighting (Toronto)

Boom Town, by 5468796 Architecture + Office In Search Of (Winnipeg/Toronto), “is a theatrical reimagining of the waterfront gateway which brings to life a cast of playful characters and animates the space with personality and delight.”  

Boom Town by 5468796 Architecture Inc. + Office In Search Of (Winnipeg/Toronto)

For the Simcoe Street intersection, the shortlisted proposals are as follows:

Pixel Story, by O2 Planning + Design Inc. + Mulvey & Banani Lighting + ENTUITIVE (Calgary/Toronto), “embeds way finding for various distances, speeds, and modalities through visual cues that showcase the attractions and experiences of the waterfront on both sides of the Gardiner, enticing visitors to move forward or pause to observe.”

Pixel Story by O2 Planning + Design Inc. + Mulvey & Banani Lighting + ENTUITIVE (Calgary/Toronto)

Patina of Life, by Daily Tous Les Jours + SvN Architects and Planners + Latérale Conseil (Montreal), “is an artwork that reintegrates nature as part of the everyday experience of the city and proposes a series of interactive pathways, each consisting of a framework of life-supporting modules that combine to surround pedestrians.”

Patina of Life by Daily tous les jours + SvN Architects and Planners + Lateral (Montreal)

Fragments of a Home, by SOCA + Tiffany Shaw-Collinge + SHEEEP (Toronto/Edmonton), “presents a catalog of architectural memes and follies that invite open-ended associations of comfort and joy for passers-by, while extending an understanding of ‘home’ beyond the individual to broaden our collective relationship surrounding safety, connection with an environment in transformation.”

Fragments of a Home by SOCA + Tiffany Shaw-Collinge + SHEEEP (Toronto/Edmonton)

On Monday, January 10 at 4:30pm the six shortlisted teams will unveil their design proposals at an online event. Register here.

The public is encouraged to review the proposals online, and share feedback by January 19, 2022 via email or through an online survey to help inform both the jury decision, and future Bentway programming and design initiatives that will advance the transformation of the under-Gardiner corridor.

The designs will be installed in 2022 and will remain in place until the Gardiner deck rehabilitation project moves to this area of the Expressway, which is estimated to take place sometime in 2025.

For more information on the project, proposals and the jury, check out the project website.

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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