June 5, 2006
by Canadian Architect
The Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (TWRC) today announced that a team led by Rotterdam’s West 8 urban design & landscape architecture beat out four other internationally recognized competitors to win the Central Waterfront Innovative Design Competition, a competition to provide the public with continuous access across Toronto’s central waterfront.
“The West 8 team proposed a clear, simple and strong idea that can be implemented in the near future to create much needed public access to Toronto’s Central Waterfront for the people of Toronto,” said Brigitte Shim. “The design is bold, beautiful and buildable.” Toronto-based du Toit Allsopp Hiller, Schollen & Company, Diamond + Schmitt Architects, Halsall Associates and David Dennis Designs as well as New York-based Arup are the other members of the West 8 team.
TWRC’s design competition covered the three-kilometre area between Bathurst Street and Parliament Street and focused on the water’s edge and Queens Quay Boulevard. The key objectives of the competition were to create continuous public access from Bathurst to Parliament, establish gateways at the heads of slips and complete the Martin Goodman Trail through the central area. “With the completion of improvements to John Quay and the announcement of the exciting design for the Waterfront revitalization, Canada’s new government is helping Toronto build the great waterfront it deserves,” said the Honourable John Baird, President of the Treasury Board of Canada. “The selection of the winning design is the next big step in transformation of the waterfront.” The winning West 8 design is defined by two big moves creating a continuous water’s edge public promenade for the length of the central waterfront and transforming Queens Quay into an iconic boulevard where the “city kisses the lake.” The water’s edge is envisioned as an 18-metre promenade that includes a wooden boardwalk, floating finger piers and a new “green foot” for Toronto a double row of large, native trees just to the north of the lakeside promenade. A series of bridges rising out of the wooden boardwalk and spanning the ends of the slips provide continuous public access right along the edge of the lake. The West 8 design transforms Queens Quay from the waterfront’s Achilles heel into one of its most important assets. Traffic is shifted to the north side of the streetcar tracks, which remain in place, leaving four metres on the south side for the completion of the Martin Goodman Trail and the creation of a new generous pedestrian promenade. This new walkway in turn opens up the heads of slips as important public spaces, gracious in scale to match the promenade itself.
Two rows of large, native trees frame the trail and the promenade, effectively greening Queens Quay like the water’s edge. “West 8’s winning design boldly and elegantly captures the underlying objectives of the waterfront revitalization vision so enthusiastically supported by the McGuinty government: to reclaim the water’s edge in the central waterfront area for the people of Toronto and the Province of Ontario as a magnificent public asset,” said David Caplan, Ontario Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. “This design, when fully implemented, will give the City of Toronto an iconic waterfront gateway that will showcase the city, the province and indeed Canada internationally.” The continuity and coherence of the West 8 design is reinforced by the consistent use of a simple palette of materials made up of wood and granite. “I have always known that the central waterfront was a place where an immediate and visible difference could be made and since I took my seat on the TWRC Board four months ago, I have pushed hard to make sure that it remained a priority,” said Mayor David Miller. “The winning team has embraced our vision and interpreted and conceptualized the waterfront in ways that many of us would never have imagined. Today our revitalization efforts are being elevated to a standard of innovation and creativity befitting the City of Toronto, Ontario and Canada.” The West 8 design also incorporates innovative sustainability features like a new storm water management system on Queens Quay and pontoons for the floating piers which are designed to enhance fish habitat and improve water quality.
Toronto filmmaker Atom Egoyan, Toronto urban designer Ken Greenberg, Toronto designer Bruce Mau, Montreal landscape architect Claude Cormier, New York architect Lise Anne Couture as well as Brigitte Shim made up the jury that selected West 8. The jury’s decision was unanimous. In addition to drawing on their own professional expertise, jury members considered input from several sources a public forum held at BCE Place Galleria on May 15, written public comments collected at six exhibitions held across the city, a community stakeholder committee chaired by Vicki Barron, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, a City of Toronto staff advisory team, Harbourfront Centre and the Toronto Port Authority. “The West 8 design is completely in sync with TWRC’s aspirations for the revitalization of the central waterfront public accessibility, sustainability and of course the highest quality design,” said John Campbell, TWRC’s President and CEO. “TWRC is both pleased and proud to now move this design into implementation.” The West 8 design will be implemented in phases over several years. The first phase will be the transformation of Queens Quay between Spadina and York Street including the completion of the Martin Goodman Trail. $20.1 million for the first phase of construction is included in the 10-year waterfront funding plan approved by the three levels of government in the fall of 2005. While construction on Queens Quay is not slated to start until later in the year, TWRC is looking into the feasibility of closing the south side of Queens Quay to traffic for a period of time so that people can experience the benefits of the of the new promenade and trail this summer.