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Meet Ontario Place, a public site and Modernist masterpiece located on Toronto’s waterfront which has suffered from decades of inadequate stewardship.  Designed in the late 1960’s by architect Eberhard Zeidler and landscape architect Michael Hough, it embodies progressive visions which have taken multiculturalism, ecology, and architectural technology into careful consideration. 

In 2018, Ontario’s Provincial Government led by Doug Ford opened the site to international development calls, with no public consultation or transparency. Ontario Place is now at risk of privatization and losing its  world-renowned architectural  and landscape heritage. It’s up to us to imagine the future of the site for all Ontarians.

Following these events, Ontario Place was included on the 2020 World Monuments Fund Watch alongside other sites “in need of urgent or timely action.”  

This is a call for counterproposals in which the heritage values of Ontario Place are safeguarded and enhanced while taking the public into consideration. 

No stuffy condos, privatized marinas, big box programs or casinos; rather, we want to engage the myriad of stakeholders on the site such as families, casual cyclists, the houseboat community, environmentalists, yoga enthusiasts, basketball players,  fishing groups, performance artists, skateboarders, cinephiles, architects, and others who have contributed to the vibrancy of the site.  

Eligibility

This challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, business, and related fields from across Canada. Undergraduate and graduate students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, business, and related fields from across Canada.

  1. Undergraduate and graduate students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, business, and related fields from across Canada.
  2. Students who graduated between December 2019 – Fall 2020 will also be eligible to enter the competition.
  3. The team composition can range from 1 – 5 people.
  4. At least 40% of the team must be from an accredited program of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, or planning in Canada. If the team only consists of one student, they must be enrolled in an accredited school of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, or planning

The Challenge

Here is our first initiative: a Canada-wide student design challenge. Students will develop counterproposals in which the heritage values of Ontario place are safeguarded and enhanced while taking the public into consideration.

Program the site as a public asset. No condos or privatized development; rather, we want to engage the myriad of stakeholders on the site such as families, casual cyclists, the houseboat community, environmentalists, yoga enthusiasts, basketball players, fishing groups, performance artists, skateboarders, cinephiles, architects, and others who have contributed to the vibrancy of the site.

How can we reinject a sense of play at Ontario Place without damaging the architecture, landscape, and infrastructure which make the site a valuable public asset?

Proposals should advocate for innovative relationships between heritage conservation and new programs, consider the ecologies of the site, and integrate sustainable building practices. Ontario Place needs a reinvigorated public identity, it’s up to you to imagine one.

Your team will propose a new masterplan and an outline of key interventions that will reinvigorate the site for public use.

Counterproposals must consider:

  • Heritage Guidelines (HG; see outline) that preserve Ontario Place’s heritage values and its site as an integrated ensemble. Students must keep the landscape, architectural and infrastructural elements outlined in the Heritage Guidelines, and should refer to the three zones and corresponding map when developing their counterproposals.
  • Student teams will need to consider key stakeholders, who have not been consulted in the current provincial development of the site, and to take their needs and opinions into account throughout the design process. Information on public stakeholders will be made available on September 25.
  • A new outdoor and indoor program strategy that will activate the site shape its identity in relation to the neighborhood, the city, and the Greater Toronto area.
  • New construction can only occur in areas specified in the Heritage Guidelines.
  • A clear strategy for integrating Ontario Place into Toronto’s waterfront, including the consideration of programming and active transportation.
  • The integration of new and existing circulation systems with the site (including active transportation.)
  • Proposed program for Zone 3 (see heritage guidelines) which bridge the Ontario Place and Exhibition Place sites.
  • Sensitivity to the site’s terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora, and the fostering of long-term ecological sustainability and habitat creation.
  • A strategy to spread knowledge of the site heritage value and promote the team’s vision. Teams need to share a written strategy for public outreach to spearhead their visions and raise awareness about OP’s heritage values (see deliverables.)

Counterproposals are encouraged to consider:

  • Development of public spaces and circulation systems that respond to social distancing needed in times of pandemic (tbc.)
  • Use of renewable energy and recycled/ low impact materials when needed (tbc.)
  • Consideration of the impacts of current and future consequences of climate change.
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