Toronto’s waterfront will undergo some drastic changes; Love Park—a contemporary and inviting space is one of two new additions. Love Park is designed by Claude Cormier + Associés—a firm based in Montreal—who has also designed Sugar Beach and Berczy Park in Toronto. The park will replace the York-Bay-Yonge eastbound off-ramp of the Gardiner Expressway, at the southern foot of York Street, which was reclaimed for public use in 2017.
An international competition was held, in May 2019, to solicit the most iconic and contextually responsive plan from leading international design firms. The jury selected Love Park unanimously as the winning design for York Street Park.
“The jury was thrilled with the quality and effort reflected in the design submissions for both York Street and Rees Street Park,” said Chris Glaisek, Chief Planning and Design Officer at Waterfront Toronto. “The winning designs best responded to the design requirements for each space, and we’re very excited to see these visions come to life.”
Situated between the southern extension of the Financial District and the York Quay residential neighborhood, Love Park will occupy approximately 2 acres of land.
- Design (planning, design solutions, design philosophy) / Inspirational design
Love Park is a local park designed for Toronto’s diverse mix of residents, workers, visitors, and tourists. “Comfortable for the body and invigorating for the mind, Love Park will become another urban catalyst, similar to our other Toronto projects that playfully compel people to give in to their heart’s wish to just let them feel good.”, says the firm.
Love Park in Toronto is an effort to bring uniqueness in the city’s skyline in contrast to the uniform skylines that we see emerging worldwide. The park also aims at capturing the vibrant essence of the public life, rendering the park as an iconic spot of the city.
The tree-lined perimeter of the park and the grass mounds create a buffer zone from the hustle-bustle of adjacent roads. These features maintain the sanctity of public life inside the park.
The inside of the park is like an effortless flow of multi-faceted spaces, harmoniously blending into each other. The epic juxtaposition of clearings with tree-covered areas and sunlit with shaded areas formulates unobstructed views, evoking a feeling of safety in the user’s mind.
The pathways widths are deliberately designed to accommodate pop-up markets and event staging whenever needed, keeping in mind the continually growing needs of the community.
The firm has displayed its thoughtfulness by designing a dog relief area in the North-East portion of the park. Love Park also has covered seating and various structures designed for lounging and relaxing. Its features can be enjoyed during all four seasons of the year. Propagating the romantic theme of the park, a multi-purpose podium that can be used for the perfect marriage proposal is also employed.
The architects are also planning on constructing a tubular structure similar to the nearby Music Garden’s pavilion at Queens Quay and Lower Spadina Avenue.
Heart-shaped water feature
The pulse of the park is the north aligned, heart-shaped water feature smack in the center of the park that appears to be floating due to the red ceramic border at its upper periphery. A mature Northern Catalpa tree, surrounded by bright pink heart-shaped flowers, sits on an island placed in the water feature to escape from the otherwise basic look of the pond. Onlookers from the surrounding business towers enjoy this enchanting view.
The size of the pond is similar to the pool of water outside of the 17th-century Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Even the ceramic border on the pond looks like a derivative of the iconic multicolored mosaic benches in Barcelona’s Park Güell, which were designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí.
The Love Park pavilion
The confluence of pathways inspires the shape of the plan for the Love Park pavilion. The shape of the plan can be described as a sort of scalene triangle formed by three arched sides connected at the corners. The arched corners create a hypothetical stretched frame, which makes the views from the pavilion look elongated and infinitely bright.
The pavilion keeps up with the concept of the park in creating something uncharacteristic to the surrounding, yet symbolic. The pavilion is finished with mirror-finished, stainless steel on the outside and warm-hued crimson on the inside. The exterior façade reflects the views of the park, disappearing into the surrounding like a mirage; it is the dominating hues of the interior that announce its presence. A circular enclosure hosting a single occupancy washroom and pocket café kiosk is designed within the structure.
Heart-shaped locator above the pond
What appears to be a fluorescent tube bent in the shape of a heart can be seen dangling right over the center of the pond. The heart is connected to a ring at the top, which in turn is tied to three poles through a sturdy cable. Although not mentioned in so many words, it would be safe to assume that this tube acts as a locator for vehicles and pedestrians announcing its presence to the wayfinders.
- Materials/Construction (special or innovative construction techniques or materials)
The mechanical room for the reservoir, waterworks affiliated with the heart-shaped basin, and storage of park elements and maintenance will be housed in a basement under the pavilion. Electrical panels and the BIA power controls with provisions to make sure that the spaces remain dry during monsoon and winter seasons will also be housed here. The walls of the pavilion rest upon concrete foundation walls that will enclose said basement.
Following are the teams that will take part in the design:
- Toronto-based architects gh3* have designed the park pavilion.
- The heart-shaped basin is designed by DEW Inc, the Toronto-based fountain designers behind some of the world’s most iconic water features.
- Engineering is led by Arup- a global leader with extensive experience in key Waterfront Toronto projects.
- The lighting design is by Ombrages/Éclairage Public of Montreal.
- The Public Art strategist is Lesley Johnstone, Curator at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary art.
The park will need to adapt to cold temperatures. The pond is going to have a soft bottom, like Conservatory Water in New York’s Central Park, which could become a natural ice-skating rink when the water freezes over in winter.
Rainwater collected on the roof of the structure(the pavilion) will be stored for reuse within the park, along with potable water backup if required. Green and blue camouflage-patterned garbage and recycling containers were included in the plans, even though the construction budget will not cover the cost.
All in all, Love Park is a flexible and revolutionary park design, which has a sanctioned budget of $7 million. The construction is set to start in early spring 2020 with a slated 2022 opening.