Toronto’s New Park Brings Light to the Underpass

Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, a leading landscape architecture firm, is working with The Planning Partnership to create a new underpass park, which will be located near the firm’s hybrid park / water treatment facility now under development (see earlier post). The degraded area beneath the highway overpass in Toronto’s West Don Lands will become a 2.5-acre park. The underpass park adds another piece to the ambitious Waterfront Toronto redevelopment. 

John Campbell, president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, said the park “is a crucial step in delivering on our promise to revitalize the West Don Lands into Toronto’s next great neighbourhood. Influenced by the massive overpass structures, the park’s design transforms the derelict and underused space into a bright, fully accessible urban neighbourhood amenity that will contribute to the success of the developments being built in the community.”

The park will feature athletic courts, recreation areas for seniors, community spaces, cafes, and playgrounds, as well as lots of trees and community gardens. Greg Smallenberg, ASLA, partner, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, said: “The design takes full advantage of the existing site’s eccentricities and its free-for-the-taking weather protection, transforming something that might otherwise be incidental into a delightful urban patch.”

To make pedestrians who use the park feel safe at all times, lighting has been carefully thought-out. According to Daily Commercial News and Construction Record, the park is lit by a “combination of LED lighting on the columns, shielded in-ground and in-wall lights and illuminated concrete ribbons at the seating areas. The more than 50 overpass columns will be lit using diffuse LED spotlights.”

The landscape is also designed to be sustainable. Daily Commercial News adds the park will feature the application of sustainable materials, including granite cobblestones reclaimed from an avenue, and recycled rubber. The landscape architects will plant more than 50 trees, adding green areas to the spaces between the ramps. The plant system is designed for minimal irrigation.

The park budget is $5.3 million, and includes site preparation, demolition and soil remediation, design and construction costs and public art. Waterfront Toronto is aiming for LEED-ND Gold.

Learn more about the new Underpass Park, and see images, fact sheets and context maps.

In related news, Ken Greenberg, a prominent Toronto urban planner, has resigned from the Lower Dons Land redevelopment project. The Toronto Star writes: “A prominent Toronto urban designer has resigned from a contract to integrate a controversial sports complex and hockey arena into the city’s east waterfront area, charging that the vision for the neighbourhood has been ‘squandered.’ The resignation of Ken Greenberg is sure to ignite debate over the future of Toronto’s urban renewal.”

Image credit: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg / Azure Magazine

3 thoughts on “Toronto’s New Park Brings Light to the Underpass

  1. ERDINC M. ACAR 04/21/2010 / 3:34 pm

    I was wonderıng how plant materıals would react to sounds of the streamıng traffıc at the overpass. Would there be a way to dıvert decıbels to trıcklıng of water to alıvıate plant stress and promote healthy growth. Maybe structural alteratıons and sound barrıers workıng wıth lıghtıng fıxtures that gımıc daylıght vıtalıty hours.

    Erdınc M. Acar
    Landscape Archıtect

  2. ERDINC M. ACAR 08/26/2010 / 3:58 pm

    In an ındustrıal mobıle socıety plant materıal stress due to sound pollutıon ıs and could easıly be the factor number 1.

    Erdinc M. Acar
    Landscape Archıtect

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