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Toronto's ferry terminal needs a revamp. Here are five proposals on the short list
March 17, 2015
By Oliver Moore

Five different visions for revamping the ferry terminal that lies at the heart of Toronto’s waterfront were unveiled Monday.

The current terminal is often described as grim and uninviting, a concrete pen where hundreds wait in the sun some summer days. Elements of the proposed replacements include more extensive trees, timed tickets to reduce waiting and such extras as places to drink and a hot-tub surrounded by the waters of the lake.

“We’d like to make it a really good experience for people who go there,” said Christopher Glaisek, vice-president of planning and design at Waterfront Toronto.

The firms making the short list include ALLDesign, led by the British architect Will Alsop, lead designer of the striking building on stilts at OCAD University. There is also New York architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, one of the lead designers of the High Line, the linear park built on old elevated railway track in that city, and West 8, which is overseeing the design of Toronto’s Queens Quay.

The proposed replacements seek to make the site more welcoming and attractive. There is limited funding - enough only for some initial landscaping of the site - but the hope is that making the designs public will prompt support that will lead to money being found.

The current ferry terminal dates to the 1970s and the point is approaching when substantial money will have to be spent to keep it up. Those who advocate replacing it say that the original doesn’t do the job well enough to be worth revamping.

“It’s not fitting for a waterfront like ours to have such a small, logistically inconvenient and non-commodious facility for something that’s as important as the Toronto islands as a recreational resource for the city,” said Mr. Glaisek.

The leading designs will be kept on display through this week in the rotunda at City Hall. They will also be available online and public comment will be considered by the panel tasked with making the final selection.

The panel includes representatives from some of Toronto’s leading architecture firms and from CivicAction, the political advocacy group.

Proposal Highlights

Cloud Park Stoss Landscape Urbanism, nArchitects, ZAS Architects
This proposal includes a series of new structures in the lake - including a hot tub, pool and fish habitat - that would help create a protected area for small boats.

Clement Blanchet Architecture, Batlle I Roig, RVTR, Scott Torrance Landscape Architect Inc.
This team is proposing a pedestrian extension of Bay Street south that will act “like a flying pier” and offer views both onto the harbour and back at the city.

Civic Canopy Diller Scofidio, Renfro, architectsAlliance, Hood Design
Dispersed ticket kiosks are intended to reduce lines. In colder months, when ridership is lower, a greenhouse will offer “a momentary respite” from winter

Harbour Landing KPBM, West 8, Greenberg Consultants
An accessible green roof atop the terminal is part of this proposal, creating what the team calls “gained park space” from which to view the harbour.

Quadrangle Architects, aLLDesign, Janet Rosenberg & Studio
This proposal includes an elevated walkway over the water, heated and air-conditioned waiting areas and a place to get a drink (with or without alcohol).

View proposal renderings: