It seems everyone wants to live in or visit TORONTO’s central waterfront. Space is at a premium, with multiple condos rising on the north side and a network of parks, promenades and cultural centres on the south. Queens Quay Boulevard is a 3.5 kilometre spine between the two.
Over the last five years WATERFRONT TORONTO has been reconstructing Queens Quay, balancing the needs of residents, businesses, recreation and thousands of visitors. The goal is to turn the once dowdy street into a linear park, connecting wavedecks, theatres, a ferry terminal, cafes, bike trails, galleries, parks and gardens, with a streetcar line up the middle.
A couple of hundred transit buffs turned up to watch two tunnel boring machines being hoisted out of their 30-metre-deep shaft and brought up to street level. The events took place early Saturday and Sunday on Eglinton Avenue West at Allen Road. The tunnel borers – ‘Dennis & Lea’ (for Mount Dennis & Leaside) – were working on the Eglinton-Crosstown lightrail project, and have now been repositioned for the next phase of construction. Metrolinx served hot chocolate to ward off Saturday’s early morning chill.
Rising above Harbord Street at St. George, the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library is a perfect example of TORONTO brutalism. Named after former Ontario premier John Robarts, the building opened in 1973 to mixed reviews – many of them negative. Plans are now afoot to add a 1,200 seat reading room on the Huron Street side of the building. The design, prepared by Diamond Schmitt Architects, features a light glass curtain wall wrapped around the west side, which will allow in 4 storeys of afternoon sunlight. The Robarts Common will be connected to the main library by a four-storey bridge. An extensive green roof is included in the project plan filed with the City of TORONTO.
<IMAGES – Diamond Schmitt Architects>
Liberty Village (east side) is a ‘shining’ (or some would say ‘overbuilt’) example of densification with a sprinkling of shops, coffee bars, pubs, restaurants, a farmer’s market, the MZTV Television Museum and a park. In this neighbourhood the condos and townhouses are really packed in, but there is nightlife close by, public transit (often overloaded), and Lake Ontario, the Financial District and West Queen West arts district are within striking distance. <PHOTO ABOVE – the surviving Roman Catholic Chapel and Central Prison, surrounded by condos & townhouses>
Built on farmland not far from the Don Valley Parkway, TORONTO’s Inn on the Park was a first attempt to build a major hotel and resort outside of downtown. Opened in 1963 by Four Seasons Hotels, it was immediately a success, a place to see and be seen, surrounded by 600 acres of parkland.
But 10 years later the hotel’s decline began, helped along by the opening of Four Seasons Yorkville, a serious fire in 1981, demolition of the original Peter Dickinson hotel, and now the demolition of the tower.
<Demolition of the tower, Inn on the Park, April 14/2015, photo – Bryan Blenkin>