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2006 05 20
Toronto Waterfront Innovation - Comments
Keith Loffler of Keith Loffler McAlpine Architects writes:

Here are my comments on the competition entries, in order of their presentation on 15 May 2006:

P.O.R.T
This entry does not even start to address the real issues - i.e. creation of a continuous uninterrupted promenade along the water's edge, and the knitting together of the disparate elements currently existing along the inner harbour. In fact, their scheme makes matters worse - by adding more disparate features of questionable value, and, to add insult to injury, by adding an extra slip that creates yet another obstacle. The only slightly interesting element is the lighting proposal, but it will date very quickly.

My vote - negative.

WASAW
This project is an inelegant joke. There is absolutely nothing of value in it. The 'cultural buoys' are located at the back of the slips - in the worst location to capitalize on the view and beauty of the harbour. Just think if they had built the Sydney Opera House at the back of a bay...

My vote - negative - the worst.

FOSTER
This scheme, like schemes 1 and 2, makes the fatal mistake of concentrating on north-south links into the city, while ignoring the real issue - making a continuous east-west promenade. North-south links are important - they are the means of access. But 'getting there' is at best half the fun, not ALL of the fun. Beyond that, The sail-like buildings terminating their north-south links will destroy the natural beauty of the inner harbour, and, worse, do not respond to an identifiable need.

My vote - negative.

TOD WILLIAMS and BILLIE TSIEN
They are obsessed with 'returning the water's edge to its natural state', to the point where they are suggesting the construction of a new island to achieve it. That idea is totally nutty. If there is one place in the waterfront system where an urbanized hard water's edge is required, it is along the Inner Harbour.

My vote - negative - they are destroying the harbour in order to save it.

WEST-8
This is the only scheme that starts to address the critical issue of creating a continuous uninterrupted promenade, and thereby knitting the disparate elements of the waterfront together. They actually propose to bridge across many of the slips. It is a great pity that bridges are not shown at two of the most important points where they should occur - at York Slip and Jarvis Slip. Those bridges must be added.

Other great ideas in their scheme:

• Linking the CN Tower to the Promenade. That idea in itself should make them the winners....
• The funky wavy treatment of the slip heads,
• The red 'lighting from hell'
• The Queen's Quay street layout.
• The inclusion of large scale Canadian trees in the streetscape.
• Moving the ferry terminal.
• The portable piers

The items I don't care too much for are:

• The maple leaf island - it's too corny.
• The wood fetish.

My vote - in favour.


SUMMARY
It is really sad when an international competition is held and only one team, WEST-8, even addresses the real problem. I do not blame the contestants. I blame the TWRC.....

The WEST-8 scheme comes closest to the design parameters for the inner harbour I set out some months ago and which are attached once again, to ensure they are not overlooked.

On the implementation side, the TWRC wants to start by building the heads of four slips. That is a mistake. The first elements to be built should be the bridges. Those slipheads, by themselves, will do nothing to improve our enjoyment of the inner harbour.






[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 05/20 at 10:15 AM

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