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Redesigning the Lower Don

From pristine wetland to industrial transportation hub and the confluence of major urban expressways, the Lower Don Lands area has gone through many changes throughout Toronto’s history. The mouth of the Don River is about to change again.
2007-03-28DonlandsDesign2.jpgBack in February, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation announced a competition to redesign a 40-hectare area located at the mouth of the river and the entrance to the Port Lands (pictured right). The teams invited to compete were Stoss (Boston), Brown and Storey Architects (Toronto) with Zas Architects (Toronto); Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (New York), Behnisch Architects (Los Angeles) Greenberg Consultants (Toronto), and Great Eastern Ecology (New York); Weiss/Manfredi (New York), with du Toit Allsopp Hillier (Toronto); and Atelier Girot (Zurich), Office of Landscape Morphology (Paris), and ReK Productions (Toronto).
The teams were given 8 weeks to come up with designs that would naturalize the mouth of the Don River, create a riverfront park system, enhance the Martin Goodman Trail, prioritize public transit and promote sustainable development. At that briefing, the teams received input from a number of stakeholders including the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA); City of Toronto planning, parks and transportation staff, the Toronto Port Authority and a community advisory committee established by the TWRC.
At a media briefing this morning, the design teams revealed their visions for the Lower Donlands. From April 16 to 24, the public can view the images of sweeping boardwalks, naturalized marshlands and recreational facilities at the Allan Lambert Galleria, BCE Place, beginning with a public forum on Monday at 6:00 p.m. A jury appointed by the TWRC will announce the winning design in mid-May.
See the design renderings under the fold.







Atelier Girot 2007-04-13DonlandsDesign10.jpg
Images provided by the TWRC.


  • james a

    what the heck is going on in the last stoss rendering? a giant spider?
    that aside, these all seem really nice at a cursory glance. is there any indication of what all the buildings being plunked down are going to be? purely residential, or what? it kinda looks like a bunch of lowrise buildings and row housing… meh.

  • Apetimberlake

    Its better then the festering cesspool it is now!

  • Chester Pape

    Real purty and all but did anyone remind these folks that some of the lands that are involved here are still private property, while much of the Portlands is owned by TEDCO (although a lot of that is tied up in long term irrevocable leases) some of it is still privately owned. I haven’t seen anyone talking about expropiating the Docks out of existence but that would be necessary for most of these to happen.

  • matt

    I hope there were more ‘renderings’ or images p[roposed by each group. Taking only these into account it’s really hard to say what idea they have for reclaiming the Don… Telling the truth from architects/designers I’d expect something more :))

  • Don Watcher

    Very interesting designs. Kudos to the TWRC for hosting the competition. I would like to point out that the Task Force to Bring Back the Don created its own vision for the mouth of the Don several years ago. Some of these designs are pretty close to it. Click here to see BBTD’s own vision.

  • rek

    Wow, it’s like at some point in the last year Toronto realized it was a city, and decided to have the sort of things other cities have.
    Considering the size of the area in question, there are far too few renderings to judge which does the best job. I like the direction Weiss/Manfredi is going with the boardwalk, Stoss’ for the natural touch, but Atelier Girot’s make me think it’s intended to be Bay Street East.

  • Kevin Bracken

    These are beautiful – I am especially captured by boardwalks of any kind, and Toronto’s thus far are mediocre at best.

  • jeeff has the full proposals from each group, with lots more detail in words & pictures. also see christopher hume’s column in today’s star. personally, i am suspicious of the Atelier Girot scheme, which has a very le corbusian “towers in the park” look to it – a design that has failed so consistently and spectacularly in the past. plus they quote le corbusier’s “a machine for living” catchphrase…

  • MerWiz

    Anything is better then what’s there now, but PLEASE make sure that there are some recreational facilities or at least a series of good playing fields. In this city, decent playing fields especially the south are in very short supply.
    Go to Sunnybrook Park or Eglington Flats on any nice weather day and see how many people are there. If you build it, they will come AND be active!

  • rek

    Yes, I saw the proposals at, and there are still too few renderings for an area that size.

  • rek

    Hey jeeff (I think we met at Mook’s one time). I did go to, but I still think there are too few renderings given the size of the area in question for us to judge the proposals.

  • Bryce Miranda

    You can find more images to the scheme WANDERING ECOLOGIES by Weiss/Manfredi and DTAH at

  • Gregg

    This is all fine and dandy, but what is happening to the area to the south of the renderings .. namely the cherry beach area .. i know they are putting in temporary soccer fields for the under 20 tourney but what else ?? I have found no detailed description of the plans for that area .. not even on Does anyone have info on this ? thx .. cheers !