A Look at the Shortlisted Ferry Terminal Proposals
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A Look at the Shortlisted Ferry Terminal Proposals

From a whimsical geyser to a hobbit-like green roof, the five shortlisted re-designs for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal hope to transform one of the most used public spaces on the waterfront.

Plans for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Waterfront Toronto’s latest design challenge subject, include everything from winter ice caves to elevated walkways. Five shortlisted teams unveiled their proposals last night at a public meeting at Toronto City Hall, and residents can share their thoughts in the city hall atrium until Saturday.

Sitting front-row at the event was Olivia Chow, who nodded in agreement as Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre–Rosedale) told the crowd the new design plans needed to carry on the legacy of former opposition leader Jack Layton, for whom the ferry docks were named in 2012.

Some proposals offered a seamless integration between the park and the building, fusing each space together to smooth out the ferry gateway’s entry point. Elevated promenades, wood building materials, and swimming amenities were other common trends.

The designs took different approaches—elaborate and simple, colourful and natural. Here, we look at them to see what they offer.

The Jack Layton City Terminal Park
Design team: Clement Blanchet Architecture, Batlle I Roig, RVTR and Scott Torrance Landscape Architect Inc.
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This design team, featuring two Toronto firms that have previous involvement with Waterfront Toronto projects, wanted to “bring elements of the island to the harbour,” according to presenter Clement Blanchet. Their plan includes an elevated belvedere, which can be accessed by a large and open Bay Street extension, dubbed the “city slope.” They also proposed having a shop onsite that could rent out recreational gear for waterfront activities. The terminal itself is a two-storey glass building, which would have a botanical conservatory on the top floor that could be seen easily from the adjoining belvedere. This plan was one of the more elaborate options, with further sections including a playscape, sand dunes, a swimming pool, an orchard, a wetland sculpture park, and forest area.

Cloud Park
Design team: Stoss Landscape Urbanism, nARCHITECTS and ZAS Architects
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Two-thirds American, one-third Toronto-based, this design team drafted a “fantastical” proposal that incorporates natural elements like trees, stone, water, and clouds into its plan. The jewel-like terminal pavilion has five sides that face out to the city, the ferries, the park, the islands, and the ticketing station. The building itself has a sweeping angled roof with exposed maple wood frames visible from inside. This proposal is closest to the current layout of the ferry docks, with the terminal building standing on its own. However, this plan hopes the park becomes “an integrated journey onto the Island” by opening up the park entry point to the pavilion and creating lots of green space. Like various other proposals, Cloud Park includes swimming amenities, but uniquely offers floating hot tubs.

Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park
Design team: Quadrangle Architects, aLLDesign and Janet Rosenberg & Studio
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Undoubtedly the most creative design plan of the evening comes from this team, whose members’ portfolio items include the iconic OCAD tabletop building and the recent Honest Ed’s redevelopment proposal. The plans include colourful sculptures scattered about the site—the most eye-catching being numerous towering triangular structures. There were also multicoloured disk sculptures and a giant rubber duck in the proposal renderings. This plan also features an elevated walkway, which seems to span the longest distance along the water and would provide great views of the lake. The bright-red, glassed-in terminal building also stretches along the waterfront, with open space created underneath. The team also proposed a sandy beach and place to play with model boats.

Civic Canopy
Design team: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, architectsAlliance and Hood Design
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The Toronto-based portion of this team, architectsAlliance, is currently working on building the Harbourfront Centre promenade, and here brings yet another boardwalk design. This wood-based canopy proposal allows sun to stream in through the “timber fins that act like tree branches,” and also makes room for trees to grow beyond the ceiling limits. Automated ticketing systems would be fitted within support beams for the canopy. The team also showed a potential app that could be used to improve ferry scheduling. Some fun quirks to the design plans include a geyser that goes off with departing ferries, a winter market, winter ice caves, and inflatable domes that could act as heated coffee shops. Special lighting would tint the canopy to warm colours in the winter and shift to cooler colours during the summer. This plan steps away from integrating the terminal with the park, and instead surrounds the main feature with accompanying amenities.

Harbour Landing
Design team: KPMB Architects, West 8 and Greenberg Consultants
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“We want this to feel like one big park,” said Ken Greenberg, a consultant who’s worked on many high-profile Toronto master plans. Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB Architects aptly described the plan as “a building that creates a landscape.” The green roof looks like a sweeping field that fits seamlessly overtop the terminal, which doubles as a viewing platform with easily traversable carved-out walkways. The Harbour Square Park filters right into the terminal, which has an open space underneath for waiting areas and wooden beams exposed to waiting guests. The plan also features a walkway along the water’s edge. Tourists taking photos from ferry rides would see a dash of green amid the towers that currently make up the city backdrops, which speaks to how this plan factors in integration with new development and pre-existing downtown structures.

Residents can have their say on the various proposals in the city hall atrium until Saturday. You can also fill out an online feedback form.