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Bold Design Ideas Wanted For Important Waterfront Gateway

Nov 4, 2014

The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal as it looks today.

As a gateway to the Toronto Islands, the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park is a unique waterfront site with historical significance.

By Heather Glicksman

If you’ve ever spent time waiting in line for a ferry to the Toronto Islands – you might be interested in this. Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto are inviting the world’s most talented and creative designers to participate in an Innovative Design Competition for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park. We’re looking for their best ideas for how to make this important waterfront asset a more welcoming gateway to the Toronto Islands.

The competition process is now underway. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be looking for – and reviewing – qualifications from interested design firms. At the end of December 2014, five teams will be invited to move on to the Design Competition. A major public exhibition, planned for early March 2015, will give Torontonians an opportunity to review the design approaches and provide feedback to the jury.

Once a recommended approach is selected by the competition jury, the design team will move forward with a Master Plan for the area. The Master Plan will include a phasing strategy to help prioritize – and budget – for future work. 

Harbour Square Park as it looks today.

Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park occupies prime waterfront space at the end of two of Toronto’s most important streets – Bay Street and Yonge Street.

Design competitions are playing a key role in the transformation of Toronto’s waterfront. The innovative ideas that stem from competition submissions help raise the level of planning and design in our city and provide an opportunity for public conversations to unfold about key waterfront sites.

To date, Waterfront Toronto has held design competitions for significant waterfront sites including the Central Waterfront, the public space around the Jarvis Slip, the Lower Don Lands and the Gardiner Expressway. 

One of the renderings of the winning design proposal for Sugar Beach by Cormier + Associes.

The winning design proposal for Sugar Beach by Cormier + Associes.

The Jarvis Slip design competition brought you the whimsical, brightly coloured pink umbrellas, sugar-like sand and iconic candy-striped rock outcroppings of Sugar Beach that have transformed a former industrial area and surface parking lot into a must-see waterfront attraction. The SpadinaSimcoe and Rees WaveDecks came out of the Central Waterfront Design Competition as did the revitalization of Queens Quay which is currently underway.

The Lower Don Lands 2007 design competition provided a bold and comprehensive concept design and a unifying vision for the Lower Don Lands. The naturalization of the Mouth of the Don River will establish an iconic identity for the river and revitalization of the Port Lands. For the Gardiner Expressway, we used an innovative Design Ideas competition to help inform the public debate and early stages of an environmental assessment – by inviting the world’s leading design firms to contribute innovative ideas for the future of the Gardiner, including ways to maintain and improve the current structure and ways to replace it entirely.

Achieving these transformational ideas through innovative design competitions have allowed us to tackle big, complicated challenges including infrastructure, public spaces and new development/ redevelopment along our waterfront, creating a truly inspiring and cohesive vision. We can’t wait to see the reimagined designs for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park  -- and share them with all of you. Stay tuned as we get one step closer to creating a connected waterfront for the entire city to enjoy.

post contributor

  • Heather Glicksman

    Heather is a community relations and issues specialist at Metrolinx. She previously worked at Waterfront Toronto as a Communications and Public Engagement Coordinator where she specialized in public consultations and writing online content. She has worked in the public sector and for a municipal government working to keep the public informed on hot topics. In her free time, Heather enjoyed exploring Toronto’s many festivals and activities.