Back in April, we posted about a bridge design charrette hosted by the Urban Toronto forums, and, in response to Concord’s indifferent proposal to connect CityPlace and Front Street with a box truss bridge, there are now sixteen bridge designs to consider as alternatives. All of the entries adhere to the rigid guidelines outlined by GO Transit and Canadian National Railway [PDF], and most have even addressed technical feasibility, cost, safety, and ecological requirements in addition to aesthetics. Votes and comments have been pouring in, and polls will remain open until June 12, when one submission wins the “Design of Distinction” title.
The only remaining issue is that responses from the city and developer have been nonexistent. Scott Dickson, a moderator at Urban Toronto, seemed frustrated with the process. “The developer has no interest in speaking with us and—like city planning officials who contacted us once and then ignored all future emails sent to them—clearly wants this initiative to just go away.” Nigel Terpstra, another moderator, is certain that the core issue is economics. Concord, he said, “is a company which is out to make money, not spend it. As such, they want to build the cheapest bridge possible.” The budget for the CityPlace bridge (in the area of $2.5 million) is about half of the Humber Bay Bridge (constructed for approximately $4 million), the latter of which is proof that good design can create value and that Torontonians appreciate good bridge-building. As Christopher Hume hopes, maybe “its unqualified popularity and instant iconic status have reminded city hall that it’s worth going the extra distance.”
Of the sixteen entries, one was deemed incomplete by the charrette organizers, and another is an improved version of the entrant’s earlier submission, leaving the fourteen finalists pictured above. Though all are quite different, each takes conventional notions of a bridge and re-presents them with a unique twist. At a minimum, the charrette has provided the developers with new designs to consider and given the public some beautiful alternatives to compare. Hopefully, Concord will also recognize that this creative energy is exactly what is required to connect this emerging neighbourhood with the more established community across the tracks.