Compelling and visionary designers and others examine Toronto’s international leadership in landscape architecture-based development. Provocative, headline-making speakers at this May 2015 conference in Toronto highlighted exceptional design and sustainability in world-class waterfront projects, the city’s extensive ravine system and it legacy of parks. To learn more about the conference: http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/toronto2015/index.html
A landscape embodies the social, political and economic values of its inhabitants over time. By tracing a city’s history, one can glean shifts in attitudes toward the purpose of the environment, socio-political divisions, and a stance on land ownership. In the case of Toronto, Corktown Common, a public park, is inextricably linked with an outlook towards the role of the Don River for industry, its eventual deterioration and pollution, and finally, the filling of the riverbed and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. This talk will examine how the design of Corktown Common in the context of Toronto’s waterfront redevelopment reflects the city’s changing philosophy about the value and role of public spaces today.
Corktown Common strives to reimagine the waterfront for purposes of public recreation, ecological restoration, and climate resilience. It acknowledges the site’s industrial history, absorbing remnants of its past such as railroad tracks and gigantic hydroelectric towers. It enhances the recently built flood
protection infrastructure that addresses changing water levels and protects the West Don Lands for the future. Most importantly, it provides a vibrant and inviting public space that is strategically sited at the edge of the city’s growing downtown. This is only the latest step in the history of how Torontonians inhabit their city’s landscapes. What is the next permutation of these environments? The answer is closely linked to our current set of cultural priorities.