Category Archives: urban planning

Vancouver and surroundings

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Surrey Public Library (left) and City Hall

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Surrey is an adjacent district of Vancouver. I visited its Civic Centre recently, which is part of a larger plan to use civic infrastructure as social space. Libraries are an interest of mine; in particular the changing role of libraries and different modalities of engagement within the library e.g. digital learning, makerspaces. [If you’re interested in reading more, you can find an article I wrote on the Toronto Reference Library on Canadian Architect]. The Surrey City Centre Library by Bing Thom Architects is conceived as a series of different height spaces organized around an upward winding central atrium. I like the “living room,” a casual double height reading area -complete with fireplace and rock-shaped soft seating-  next to sweeping windows overlooking a public plaza.

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Stanley Park is a 1000-acre urban park that borders downtown Vancouver. Still densely forested, its trails, beaches, lakes, and recreational facilities attract thousands daily. It is almost entirely surrounded by water – you can follow its 22-kilometre seawall by bike or by blade. This green peninsula in the city is not isolated — walking through Vancouver’s downtown core, it is not difficult to find instances of green and open space. This adds to the city’s human scale.

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Followed by some random Vancouver sights…

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Vancouver’s Millennium Water Olympic Village – North America’s first LEED Platinum Community – served as the Athletes’ Village for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Formerly an industrial site, it was the catalyst for the revitalization of the surrounding False Creek neighbourhood.

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Recalling Lake Ontario’s lost edge with steel and grass

A version of this post appeared in the October 10th edition of The Fort York Foundation’s website. For more information, see www.fortyorkfoundation.ca/.

The much-anticipated Fort York Visitor Centre is now open – to positive reviews.

The long, linear building recreates the lakefront bluff that defined the Fort’s 19th century geography and has taken root below the hulk of the elevated Gardiner Expressway. Its main exterior façade is composed of a sequence of monolithic weathered steel panels and a ”liquid landscape” of meadow plants, aligned with the contours of the original shoreline. The Visitor Centre inhabits the space behind this industrial escarpment, partially buried under the Commons. It is an ingenious approach to working with the landscape as a form of historical narrative.

Forecourt space will be planted in tall grasses with boardwalk circulation routes, recalling the original lakeshore landscape. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Forecourt space will be planted in tall grasses with boardwalk circulation routes, recalling the original lakeshore landscape. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The building is a joint project by Vancouver’s Patkau Architects and Toronto-based Kearns Mancini Architects – the result of an international competition held in 2009.

There is a remarkable similarity between the winning competition drawings and the final building. This is rare. Although the project underwent a comprehensive value engineering process, the original concept was not diminished nor was a more conventional approach to design taken.

Conceptual Sketch of the steel escarpment. Image courtesy of the project team.

Conceptual Sketch of the steel escarpment. Image courtesy of the project team.

The ‘fortified’ edge of the site is defined by steel panels. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The ‘fortified’ edge of the site is defined by steel panels. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings - Perspective

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings – Perspective

The most significant change was in the superstructure –the “Ghost Screen”– a self-supporting layer that proved to be expensive and difficult to turn into an implementable piece of construction. Without compromising the essential imagery, the screen is (re)presented instead as a semi-translucent cast glass channel wall, which defines the building’s uppermost volume along its length. “We decided to get more pragmatic about it”, says Patricia Patkau. “I think in some ways the project may have benefitted from that.”

A very rich landscape idea was presented as part of the winning submission, reflecting the historic harbour and telling the story of the site. Budget constraints, however, made certain key features undeliverable. These enrichments can be added as more funding becomes available.

Fort York Visitor Centre –Transversal section through the building and site.

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings – Cross section

To complete the weathered steel façade, an additional 37 inclined panels need to be installed. This extension of the wall from the east end of the Visitor Centre would demonstrate how the natural escarpment contributed to the Fort’s defences. As part of the liquid landscape, expanses of softly moving grasses will continue all the way along this steel edge, creating the illusion of the lake that, until the 1850s, came right up to the Fort itself. A series of illuminated raft-like objects and boardwalk circulation routes will help recall the former presence of the lake.

The full master plan also calls for a large terrace –”Events Dock”– reaching out into the liquid landscape. This will be the site for a slew of activities and here, at its highest elevation 20m up, the massive concrete and steel overpass will act as a huge covered canopy. (Just this past weekend, it was the site for a video installation during Nuit Blanche.) Imagine art installations hanging from its underbelly, and space for theatre, for concerts, and for kids to play. This is where the Fort York National Historic Site welcomes the modern city with diverse large-scale public events.

The new urban plaza will transform the previously derelict and underused space into a bright, new, urban neighbourhood amenity. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The new urban plaza will transform the previously derelict and underused space into a bright, new, urban neighbourhood amenity. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings - Perspective

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings – Perspective

“There is a long list of enhancements that are not essential to the scheme but will make it richer. We hope that, over time, they can be phased in,” says John Patkau. After all, these details are the elements that we interact with most closely – they are the parts we see and touch.

The main façade of the visitor centre recreates the original escarpment and presents a strong elevation along Fort York Boulevard. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The main façade of the visitor centre recreates the original escarpment and presents a strong elevation along Fort York Boulevard. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings – South Elevation

Fort York Visitor Centre winning competition drawings – South Elevation

The building is the result of a collaborative partnership between two innovative firms. It is not always obvious how two design firms can act as a team. In this relationship, there was no ‘master sketcher’, no single person taking the lead. The idea of the architect as solitary genius is outdated. Instead, it was a discussion, a conversation at all stages. “It’s two complimentary, compatible design firms that are able to work together”, says Jonathan Kearns. “It’s almost like having a built-in peer review. We have a shared understanding and common goals.” Toronto-based landscape architecture firm Janet Rosenberg & Studio was also an important part of the discussion.

The Fort York Visitor Centre will help Torontonians engage in the history of this site and the city. The designers, City of Toronto Culture, and community partners are committed to seeing some of the important missing elements that were described in the competition come to fruition. It’s just a question of when. The Fort York Foundation will continue to campaign and will need your support to realize this vision.

The canopy of the Expressway produces a huge, covered urban space for community events and programming. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The canopy of the Expressway produces a huge, covered urban space for community events and programming. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The project's main façade is intimately interwoven in alternations of transparency and solidity. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The project’s main façade is intimately interwoven in alternations of transparency and solidity. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Stephanie Calvet is a Toronto-based architect and writer specializing in architecture and design. For over a decade she worked in architecture and planning firms in Boston, designing projects in the hospitality, multi-unit residential, education and healthcare sectors. In addition to consulting, she writes for the popular press, trade publications, corporate organizations, and academic journals.

An Urban Forest: June Callwood Park Opens in Toronto

A version of this post appeared in the October 6th edition of UrbanToronto.

Shadowlands Theatre performers take visitors on a journey through June Callwood Park. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Shadowlands Theatre performers take visitors on a journey through June Callwood Park. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

There’s a new kid on the block. And it’s kid-friendly too. On Saturday October 4th, Fort York neighbourhood residents and those from beyond gathered to welcome a much-anticipated public space at its heart: a new urban park with a richly varied forest and striking pink covering. June Callwood Park injects colour and a dose of street life into the urban landscape.

The festivities celebrated the opening of the park and the legacy of June Callwood, one of Canada’s leading social activists who passed away in 2007. Coinciding with the kick-off of the all-night art crawl Nuit Blanche, City of Toronto officials in partnership with the Garden Club of Toronto welcomed the gatherers. Following a short speech by Callwood’s daughter, author Jill Frayne, and an appropriately floral ribbon-cutting ceremony, local art group Shadowlands Theatre engaged the crowd in a performative experience, leading visitors through an interactive tour of the park’s features.

Exploring The Maze with Shadowlands Theatre performers. Photo by Craig White.

Exploring The Maze with Shadowlands Theatre performers. Photo by Craig White.

The park is located amidst a quadrant of tall condo buildings on a wedge-shaped corridor spanning from Fort York Boulevard to Fleet Street. It is a key element in reconnecting the Fort to the Lake Ontario shoreline, which has incrementally moved south with infilling over the decades. The area has seen rapidly increasing residential density —including a growing number of kids— and, most recently, has garnered additional attention with the unveiling of the Fort York Visitor Centre.

Dedicated in 2005, the new 0.4-hectare park honours Callwood’s role in the development of social aid organizations and her fervent championing of children’s causes, through its design and art installation. The design, by Toronto-based multidisciplinary firm gh3, was the result of an open, two-stage international competition, which included extensive public consultation led by the City’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.

Landscaped site plan of June Callwood Park. Image courtesy of gh3.

Landscaped site plan of June Callwood Park. Image courtesy of gh3.

It was a visual representation of the words of Callwood that formed the basis of the winning design. During one of her final interviews she was asked if she believed in God or in the afterlife. Her response, “I believe in kindness,” is a physically mapped voiceprint whose undulations create a path running north to south through the park, with an abstract geometric pattern of clearings within the groves. It is a contemporary urban vision of a park and garden.

The $2.6-million park includes an ephemeral reflecting pool, granite paving and benches, pole lighting, classic wooden park benches painted pink, and bright pink rubberized benches and surfacing. The forest is planted with over 300 trees, including plantings of native Canadian tree species, a sampling of the specimens that would have dotted the shoreline at the time the area was settled.

The starting point of the design takes a voice sampling of Callwood’s own words physically mapped onto the site. Image courtesy of gh3.

The starting point of the design takes a voice sampling of Callwood’s own words physically mapped onto the site. Image courtesy of gh3.

The park is loosely divided into six clearings, each with its own unique spatial character: the Puddle Plaza is made up of depressions that collect rainwater to create splash pads; the Ephemeral Pools act as a splash pool in the summer and a mist garden in the fall; a hedge Maze; the Pink Field boasts a wide rubberized play surface; the Puzzle Garden features a series of maze-link benches; and, the Time Strip Gardens borrow from a variety of native landscape and European settlement themes. A lone apple tree —the Callwood Tree— stands at the point where all of the park’s paths converge. The park is a series of gestures that reads at the neighbourhood scale, and at the human scale.

View northward through June Callwood Park. Ephemeral Pools at the forefront. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

View northward through June Callwood Park. Ephemeral Pools at the forefront. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Granite pavers, trees, plantings, and fine gravel at June Callwood Park. Photo by gh3.

Granite pavers, trees, plantings, and fine gravel at June Callwood Park. Image by gh3.

Callwood had envisioned this park for toddlers and their caregivers. The new park’s spaces are open to a broader array of experiences and ageless activities that could range from tai chi by the mist garden, hide-and-seek in the maze, and lunch among the poplars. There is no grass. The cushioned rubberized surfacing in bright pink makes for an especially inviting playground for kids.

As a complement its sound-inspired layout, the park integrates a permanent sound installation – Toronto’s very first – by Douglas Moffat and Steve Bates of Montreal who work together as soundFIELD. The artists derived the concept for the innovative sound work, entitled OKTA, from Callwood’s own experiences of gliding through the clouds: “Flying is like entering another dimension where your body becomes flexible and gravity lets go. I once flew through a cloud – I thought it would be warm and fluffy, but it was ice cold. In the sky there are always discoveries,” said Callwood.

OKTA is an installation where multiple points of sound are distributed across the site.

OKTA is an installation where multiple points of sound are distributed across the site.

A sensor aimed at the sky reads current cloud cover. The shifting shape and movement of clouds overhead triggers the sounds released across a field of 24 sculpted sound-columns, creating an ever-changing experience for the listener.

Good planning ensures good interaction between public space and the diverse nature of public life. The site, which until recently sat empty, was revitalized using open space as a physical framework and shifts from being a transit street to a destination. By inviting social, recreational and meditative activities, Fort York’s new neighbourhood park creates space to foster positive relationships and healthy lifestyles while also providing long-term environmental benefits.

The rubberized Ure-Tech surfacing is soft, anti-slip, self-draining, and accessible. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The rubberized Ure-Tech surfacing is soft, anti-slip, self-draining, and accessible. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Snippets from the evening can be seen below.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and a writer specializing in architecture and design. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Toronto’s Fort York Visitor Centre Opens

A version of this post appeared in the September 19th edition of UrbanToronto

Entry to Fort York Visitor Centre, framed by a weathering steel panel façade. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Entry to Fort York Visitor Centre, framed by a weathering steel panel façade. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Official Opening of Toronto’s Fort York Visitor Centre was held today. By most definitions, the city’s newest attraction, which is embedded into the ground, makes a bold statement whilst being minimally intrusive. The project is the result of a collaborative partnership between two design firms, Patkau Architects, an innovative studio based in Vancouver, and local associate architects Kearns Mancini.

“Right from the beginning, my feeling was that it could not be a little building sitting here because it would just look trivial beneath the Gardiner,” says architect Patricia Patkau. “Somehow it had to take on a different persona, like a landscape. It needed to be something of great scale, but without the height.”

Fort York Visitor Centre below the Gardiner Expressway. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Fort York Visitor Centre below the Gardiner Expressway. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The north façade of the Fort York Visitor Centre with the Gardiner Expressway above and behind. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The north façade of the Fort York Visitor Centre with the Gardiner Expressway above and behind. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Built in 1793, Fort York, now a National Historic Site, is known as the location where the Battle of York came to its violent climax in 1813 during the War of 1812. Today it is home to one of the oldest collection of fortifications in Canada, enclosing the country’s largest collection of 1812-era military structures within its defensive walls. Where the Fort is powerful in its history, it is not in its physical presence. Characterized by low-lying buildings, on a site landlocked between roadways and rail corridors, it has been almost invisible to passersby. Many Torontonians are not even familiar with its existence.

The Visitor Centre now changes this balance. Located on Fort York Boulevard, almost immediately below and just north of the elevated Gardiner Expressway, it acts as both a gateway and an interpretative hub for the entire 43-acre Fort York National Historic Site, considered the birthplace of Toronto. The new building is itself a key component in the ongoing restoration and revitalization of the city’s founding site, which includes not only the seven acres within the Fort’s walls but also the archaeological landscape, Garrison Common, Victoria Memorial Square, the Fort York Armoury and Garrison Creek parkland to the east. For the architects, the building was not simply seen as a Visitor Centre but an opportunity to provide a sense of connection both historically and physically with other parts of the site.

The Visitor Centre's interpretive function is a key part of a plan to revitalize the entire 43-acre historical site.

The Visitor Centre’s interpretive function is a key part of a plan to revitalize the entire 43-acre historical site.

The 27,000 square-foot Visitor Centre provides Fort York’s first secure exhibit space and enables the display of artifacts from the City’s collection that tells its 200-year story. Its green roof is an extension of the Common. Ground-embedding the building made it sustainable from an energy perspective and easier to develop as a Class A museum-quality interior: well insulated and unaffected by daylight. Toronto exhibit designer Reich + Petch also had a hand in shaping the environment, which includes a 2900 sq. ft. exhibit gallery; a climate-controlled vault designed to display iconic and light-sensitive artifacts; and, an Orientation Theatre. In addition to permanent and changing exhibits, it also provides facilities for education, research, staff and community use.

Fort York Visitor Centre Exhibit Gallery with 'The Vault' in the background. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Fort York Visitor Centre Exhibit Gallery with ‘The Vault’ in the background. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Architects Jonathan Kearns and John Patkau introduce the Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Architects Jonathan Kearns and John Patkau introduce the Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Visitor Centre snakes along the base of the monolithic structure that looms above. It aligns with the original shoreline of Lake Ontario, now set back some 500m, altered by two centuries of infill. Lined by a series of inclined Corten steel panels, its main façade recalls the original lake bluff, which contributed to the Fort’s natural defences. The modularity of those weathering steel panels, in considerable 8’x24’ proportions, is broken by sections of glass at building entry points. An array of glazed slits between the panels, along the length of the building, allow thin segments of natural light to permeate the main reception area and sunken exhibition gallery.

The new Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The new Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Entrance points to the new Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Entrance points to the new Fort York Visitor Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The building’s workings are best illustrated in section. “This is sort of an ‘upside down’ landscape, in terms of its archaeology, where the visitor enters on a lower contemporary landscape and rises up into an archaeological landscape. It is an interesting inversion of how it usually happens. The history, then, is the upper landscape and the modern world is the lower landscape,” explains architect Johnathan Kearns.

Cross-section through the Visitor Centre. Image courtesy of Patkau Architects.

Cross-section through the Visitor Centre. Image courtesy of Patkau Architects.

Longitudinal sections through the Fort York Visitor Centre. Image by Patkau Architects.

Longitudinal sections through the Fort York Visitor Centre. Image by Patkau Architects.

The procession through the building tells the story. The immersive “time tunnel”, a digital media space along a gentle inclined plane that zigzags back, takes the visitor through a virtual re-enactment leading up to the Battle of York. When emerging out of the end of it, the visitor is directly facing the Fort itself, with the backdrop of modern-day Toronto. Visitors can then go forth and explore the Fort, armed with a deeper understanding of its background and an appreciation of its importance as a national historic site.

Existing Fort York site with Toronto's skyline beyond. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Existing Fort York site with Toronto’s skyline beyond. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Hosted by The City of Toronto, The Fort York Foundation and The Friends of Fort York, the Opening Ceremonies began with fife and drum music by the Fort York Guard Drum Corps under the Gardiner Expressway. The musical prelude was followed by a welcoming and remarks by dignitaries, and then the ribbon cutting. On Saturday and Sunday, from 12 to 7pm, at the On Common Ground Festival, the public is invited to experience a free weekend of performances and exhibitions with culturally diverse music, dance, theatre, craft-making, kidzone, community village and local food. For a full schedule of events, please see link.

The Centre is open but not quite finished; visitors will find that several exhibits have yet to be installed, and most of the landscaping remains to be started, let alone completed. A number of enhancements will be added as more funding becomes available. In particular, the full master plan calls for the placement of an additional 37 steel panels to recreate the escarpment, and expanses of softly moving grasses recalling the waters of the lake. And the project team envisions the extension of a large terrace under the Gardiner that, here, at its highest elevation, will act as a covered canopy for a great diversity of public events. Still, there is much to see now, and celebrations continue.

The Gardiner shelters a huge covered event space. Image by Patkau Architects.

The Gardiner shelters a huge public event space. Image by Patkau Architects.

South elevation of the Visitor Centre, below the Gardiner Expressway. Image by Patkau Architects.

South elevation of the Visitor Centre, below the Gardiner Expressway. Image by Patkau Architects.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and a writer specializing in architecture and design. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Athletes at Home in Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games Aquatics Centre

A version of this post appeared in the September 10th edition of UrbanToronto

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) located at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus began operating this week. Under the official name “CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Aquatics Centre and Field House,” the venue is the largest sport new-build for the 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games set to take place in July.

Co-owned by the university and the City of Toronto, the $205-million centre is the sole aquatics facility in the region that meets the latest international competition standards and represents the largest single investment in Canadian amateur sport history. It will play host to the Games’ swimming, diving, fencing, modern pentathlon, sitting volleyball and roller sports events.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Organizing Committee (TO2015) and its partners set out to create an inspirational beacon for health and sport. Designed by NORR Architects of Toronto, the LEED Gold building provides “world-class” training facilities and a venue to host national and international competitions. It is also home to Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, which provides science and sport performance services to high performance athletes and their coaches.

But once the Games have concluded, the facility will become joint campus-community recreation space for university students and Scarborough residents to use and enjoy, while giving youth a place where they can train, play, gather and compete. “From our perspective as a university, we believe we can do a lot with community engagement. Many areas around here were former priority neighbourhoods with no facilities. The hope is that this centre attracts people, that they feel connected to a university and that it creates opportunities for them to set goals they might not otherwise have had,” says Andrew Arifuzzaman, UofT Scarborough Chief Administrative Officer.

Competition pool at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Competition pool at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Aquatics Centre includes two internationally sanctioned 50-metre, ten-lane swimming pools; a warm-up pool; a 5-metre deep diving tank with 3-, 5-, 7.5- and 10-metre platforms; and dryland training facilities with dive pits and trampolines. It doubles the number of Olympic-sized pools in the Greater Toronto Area, which until recently stood at two. (By contrast, Sydney, Australia, a smaller city than Toronto, has 42). Adjusting the mobile bulkheads increases the versatility of the practice and competition pools, allowing them to be divided and programmed in multiple ways. In both, the acoustical hanging baffles on the ceiling were arranged such that the gaps between the panels align directly above the swim lines below, a small detail that provides a valuable reference point to help backstroke swimmers keep on course. The training pool, shown below, includes a 25 m2 movable floor area to provide a variety of shallow-water fitness activities and facilitate access for individuals with disabilities.

Training pool at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Training pool at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

One of multiple gymnasia in the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Permanent retractable and temporary seating line the walls. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

One of multiple gymnasia in the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Permanent retractable and temporary seating line the walls. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Field House features flexible gymnasium space for training and competition, an indoor track, and a fitness area complete with the latest in cardio and weightlifting equipment. Among the building’s more high-tech features are a (section of) runner’s track with pressure sensors and motion-capture technology and state-of-the-art performance diagnostic tools. Add on the sport medicine mini clinic with its heat chambers and medical therapy rooms and you’ve got the best athletically endowed campus in Ontario.

Creating a sense of animation throughout the building was a key design driver. By using a high level of transparency in the interiors, the two primary corridors have been programmed as strong public spaces. Lined with glass, they overlook the centres of activity. The indoor climbing wall located just off the main lobby entrance contributes to the feeling of liveliness. There was a concerted effort to get young kids to see and potentially be inspired by elite athletes.

Climbing wall at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Climbing wall at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Corner multipurpose studio for community dance classes, combative sports, ballet, and yoga. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Corner multipurpose studio for community dance classes, combative sports, ballet, and yoga at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The combination of building form and its glazed components combine to bring a sense of dynamism to the street, with exercise rooms radiating their creative energy, a combination of play and light. However the large facility has not overwhelmed the low-rise neighbourhood. The redevelopment strategy of the site required a complete remediation because it had been a brownfield. Excavating it gave the design team the opportunity to sink the building inside the hole, with benefits on two fronts: keeping the scale of the building within that of the existing context and bringing lots of indirect natural light into the spaces, eliminating glare on fields of play.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The TPASC is 100% accessible, exceeding Ontario codes and meeting London, UK’s stricter Standards for Accessible Design in every program area throughout the building. Since its inception, the University has been committed to becoming one of the most accessible universities in the world. This would be one element within the University’ mission, “to strive to create a respectful and inclusive environment that promotes opportunity and overall well-being through physical activity.” They have demonstrated this through the use of accessible washrooms and change rooms, fitness equipment that can be operated by someone in a wheelchair, the use of vertical actuation bars (in lieu of push plates), modesty panels, and washing stations to accommodate those with religious practices.

In addition to the investment in new facilities that are being constructed, there will be millions of dollars spent on the renovation and alteration of existing facilities for the upcoming Games. These buildings will serve as a lasting legacy as much-needed sport infrastructure for Canadian athletes to train and compete at home.

After the Games, the temporary (blue) exterior wall will be removed and replaced and the area will become covered drop-off. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

After the Games, the temporary (blue) exterior wall will be removed and replaced and the area will become covered drop-off. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and a writer specializing in architecture and design. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com