Downtown Toronto is exploding with condo apartments, many of which have those latest urban fashion accessories, kids and dogs. Berczy Park, right in the middle of everything, has to deal with the crowds and has been in need of repair. Montreal landscape architect Claude Cormier has completed a redesign that is getting ready for construction starting this fall. He presented the park at the Cultural Landscape Foundation's Leading with Landscape conference in Toronto.
Dogs are a big issue in Toronto parks; they need a place to play. Kids need a place to play too, and they don't mix well. Then there is the other group, adults without dogs or kids who don't particularly want to be around either. Berczy park is not big, and dealing with all this is a real challenge. Cormier meets the challenge by dividing it into three zones separated by diagonal walkways. However he breaks down barriers between the dog lovers and haters by creating a wonderful centerpiece in the plaza:
The continuing surge in the number of dog owners has been manifest into a signature and playful fountain that merges a classic Victorian two-tiered fountain with a menagerie of spouting life-sized dog figures. Inspired by the park’s past and present, it will become a destination in the city appealing to children and attracting visitors. A discrete and playful dog-watering trough around the perimeter of the granite fountain basin accommodates the thousands of dog visits expected in the park on a weekly basis.
Cormier had some trouble convincing the city that this was a good idea; they questioned whether you could mix dogs and art. So Cormier dug up all kinds of art to demonstrate that yes, you can.
The dogs are modelled after these cute German toy dogs, which are photographed and then cast in bronze. There is a trough filled with drinking water around the base of the fountain, and up at the very top is a very large bone.
It is a wonderful gesture. I would think even the "dogs don't belong in the city" types would smile at this and feel better about them. In an earlier talk, Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmat noted that cities are not places to drive through, they are places to be. This is certainly a place to be.
The prevailing dogma in Toronto is that everything is practical and expedient and cheap, and you don't spend money on frills like this. Claude Cormier ignores dogma and gives us dogs. Bravo.