Winning Parks on Queens Quay

Waterfront Toronto recently announced the winning designs for two Queens Quay West parks to be built at York Street and Rees Street. Design competitions for the parks were held during the summer, with the public voting for five finalists for each park. YQNA took part in a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), and co-chair Angelo Bertolas met with the final jury.

Love Park (replacing the circular off-ramp from the Gardiner)

The winning design at York Street is Love Park, named and designed by Claude Cormier + Associés of Montreal. It features a heart-shaped reflecting pond with a small island for the large maple tree that will be preserved. The pond is shallow and drainable for events such as markets, or it could be a skating rink in the winter. On the southeast side is a sheltering pavilion with open arches and a coffee stand, washrooms and plenty of seating. Many benches will be placed throughout the park, and dogs will have a special space in the northeast corner.

Love Park was the preferred design of the SAC, because it eliminated the concrete bents (pillars from the old off-ramp). It uses the two-acre site well and has open sightlines, which encourages pedestrian flow and connects the city to the Waterfront. The stainless-steel pavilion with reflecting surfaces could become an iconic feature, just as Cormier’s pink umbrellas made his Sugar Beach design famous and his dog fountain at Berczy Park on Front Street a landmark.

Construction of Love Park, with a budget of $7 million, is scheduled to start in 2019.

Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)
Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)

 

Rees Ridge

The winning design for the park at Rees Street is Rees Ridge, designed by wHY Architecture of New York and Los Angeles and Brook Mcllroy of Toronto. The design was inspired by the Scarborough Bluffs. It features slopes, ramps, stairs, slides, swings and hills, and an observation deck with views of both the lake and the city. A waterfall is featured next to the cafe, which also provides a community room and washrooms. The significant elevation of the park will hide the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard when viewed from the Lake. This design also offers summertime tiered seating for events, as well as potential winter toboggan runs.

The SAC found this design the most adventurous and grand. It will undoubtedly draw people to new and exciting views of the downtown and the Waterfront from the observatory atop the pavilion. It is a priority that the observatory be accessible to everybody, and that the pedestrian tunnels to Lake Shore Boulevard are safe, as they exit directly onto the Martin Goodman Bike Trail.

Rees Ridge is the first Toronto project by wHY, while Brook McIlroy has been designing landscaped environments for years across Canada and is currently working on Regent Park. Construction of Rees Ridge, with a budget of $10 million, is targeted to start in 2020.

Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)
Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)

Pick a Park

After Waterfront Toronto heard what people want in two new parks on Queens Quay, they held an international design competition for York Park and Rees Park. Five winning teams were selected for each, now on display in great detail at yorkreesparkdesign.ca, and also exhibited in the Rotunda at City Hall.  Everybody is invited to comment in a survey and pick their favourite designs. Deadline for participating is July 17. The designers were asked to name their park projects, but the official naming is expected after construction starts in 2019.

The two parks are very different in nature. The two-acre York Park will be a green retreat with a water feature, tall trees, art, seating areas, an event space, and possible repurposing of the contentious concrete pillars (bents) that held up the former traffic ramp. Here is an image of “Gardiner Green” from PLANT Architects in Toronto and Mandaworks from Stockholm.

The site for Rees Park is 2.3 acres and currently a parking lot. A vibrant park with year-around activities will fill this gap in Queens Quay by including a pavillion, market activities, an open lawn, art and space for dogs. Snohetta from Norway designed “The Nest” for the competition. They also included a unique integration with Lake Shore Boulevard by providing a bike path under the Gardiner Expressway.

Save the trees!

The access ramps in our neighbourhood to the Gardiner will be redesigned. The circular ramp at York and Queens Quay is coming down and a new park will be created from the green space inside.  YQNA has saved this parkland from various proposed  developments — from sewage treatment plant to roadways for parking. Because of our long fight to keep this park on the Waterfront, we are taking stock of the many trees on the site. They are fully grown and some appear very healthy. It is our wish to get a green park that is not dominated by hard surfaces, and to keep as many trees as possible. Here is a beautiful maple tree, ready to shade the centre of our new green entryway to the Waterfront.