The Bentway announces winners of Waterfront ReConnect design competition

Teams from Winnipeg, Calgary and Toronto will be designing creative interventions to animate the waterfront gateways at York Street and Simcoe Street.

The Bentway, in partnership with the City of Toronto, Waterfront BIA, and Toronto Downtown West BIA, has announced the winners of the national Waterfront ReConnect design competition.

The winning designs are: Boom Town at York Street by 5468796 Architecture + Office In Search Of (Winnipeg/Toronto); and Pixel Story at Simcoe Street by O2 Planning + Design + Mulvey & Banani Lighting + ENTUITIVE (Calgary/Toronto). The selected designs will be installed in fall 2022 and will remain in place until that section of the Gardiner Expressway undergoes necessary repairs (scheduled for 2025)

“Waterfront ReConnect continues The Bentway’s ongoing work to reimagine the possibilities of the Gardiner Expressway from end to end,” said Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway. “These creative interventions demonstrate how Toronto is leading an international movement to reinvest in civic infrastructure, creating new and exciting places for connectivity, art and even theatre.”

Inspired by the ongoing repairs to the Gardiner Expressway and the ubiquitous presence of equipment deployed to inspect and maintain the structure, Boom Town is a theatrical reimagining of the waterfront gateway at York Street, introducing a cast of playful characters that will animate the space with personality and delight.

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

The design team proposed transforming a trio of boom lifts into “Bent Buddies” named Trekker, Tinker and Trouper — characters who breathe new life into the intersection and welcome people to the site. “The competition’s parameters were very stringent, and understandably so for a temporary installation. For a while our ideas fought with these limitations, but in the end, they became a launching point for a simple solution that is memorable, playful and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Johanna Hurme of 5468796 Architecture.

Pixel Story entices passersby with visual cues showcasing the attractions and experiences of the waterfront on both sides of the Gardiner, building anticipation for the lakefront that lies on the other side of the Simcoe Street intersection, and highlighting the diverse stories that relate to its experiences. “Imagine within the time you’re waiting for the traffic light to change, or you’re riding by in a bus, you could read about someone’s favourite place to walk or see an image of how this part of the shoreline looked over 100 years ago,” says Grace Yang of O2 Planning + Design. “The design strategies of Pixel Story bring the industrial scale of the Gardiner down to the level of human interaction.”

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

“Improving the aesthetics of the north-south connections under the Gardiner Expressway, across Lake Shore Blvd to the water is a key goal of the project,” says Tim Kocur, Executive Director of Waterfront BIA. “We want to develop new standards for safe, more accessible, visually pleasing underpass connections so residents of and visitors to Toronto can experience the best of the waterfront.”

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