Toronto Portlands Redevelopment Ideas Revealed


STOSS INC./Brown + Storey Architects/ZAS Architects

For a century Toronto has worked hard to lay tracks, build walls of highways and condos, pave airports and leak oil, anything that can be conceived to destroy the waterfront and the harbour. Now they are trying to fix this, and a series of competitions have been held to deal with different parts of the waterfront. The latest, the Don Portlands, was unveiled last night. It is exciting to see two hundred people come out to look at architecture and design, in one of Toronto's most spectacular spaces, the Galleria designed by Santiago Calatrava. Then we got to see four schemes that any TreeHugger would love; they all clean the river with natural remediation; green roofs and water reclamation on every building; parks, bike trails, playgrounds but also people, dense urban development, places to live by the water. They also all have people in canoes and Gordian Knots. Four teams had been short listed from twenty-nine entries and they chose very well.
STOSS INC./Brown + Storey Architects/ZAS Architects

The Don River now comes to a crashing halt against a concrete wall, takes a hard right turn through a tight channel and dumps unceremoniously into Toronto Harbour with the elegance of a flushing toilet. It also cannot handle projected loads during big floods, rendering much of the surrounding area undevelopable. The Stoss team "reclaims space for the mouth of the Don and rekindles the delicate dynamics that mark the river-lake interface."

Notwithstanding the canoeist and the dog, they also propose robust neighbourhoods with edgy "net energy exporting" buildings complete with ground source circulation loops, photovoltaics, and a very interesting "inverted airfoil roof" that increases wind velocity to aid passive ventilation. ::STOSS INC./Brown + Storey Architects/ZAS Architects

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates/Behnisch Architects/Greenberg Consultants/ Great Eastern Ecology

The grand gesture here is the bold re-routing of the Don river, with all its flood control aspects and parkland, through the middle of the site, leaving the old channel with its hard edges in place. Thus near the existing elevated highway we get high density and a real urban edge to the water, but as you move south it becomes more park-like and lower in scale. The elevated expressway to the north of the channel is pretty spectacular at this point where it runs along the edge of the water; it is very high and relatively narrow. Here the road underneath is removed and it becomes a colonnade at the waters edge.


::Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates/Behnisch Architects/Greenberg Consultants/ Great Eastern Ecology
Weiss/Manfredi & du Toit Allsopp Hillier

"The naturalization of the Lower Don will transform the area from its post-industrial derelict condition into a vibrant public space. The release and reconfiguration of the mouth of the River introduces a collection of new natures. A relaxed configuration of water and landscape framed by new topographics simultaneously alleviates flooding, simplifies river maintenance and amplifies the latent beauty of the existing infrastructure"

This isn't the Keating Channel I ever rowed in. ::Weiss/Manfredi & du Toit Allsopp Hillier
Atelier GIROT/Office of Landscape Morphology/ReK Productions

Everyone wants to live on the water, so the "proposed development pattern balances expansion and re-naturalization of the Don Mouth Estuary with a unique arrangement of compact development on linear banks"- a network of finger piers. Gutsy buildings along a major north-south circulation route that ties the city to the lake.



Atelier GIROT/Office of Landscape Morphology/ReK Productions

It has been a long slog, and nobody who has sat through presentations on the future of Toronto for the last 25 years can be certain that it is going to happen soon, but there was a vibe in the air, a sense that some of these schemes are too good not to happen. For once I am excited about Toronto. ::Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation

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