Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Global Walking Tour: Toronto
2 August 2018
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TORONTO – On August 2nd the CTBUH Canada Chapter and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) held their annual walking tour of Downtown Toronto. The tour was one of 23 taking place around the world, with the Auckland, New Zealand tour having kicked off 16 hours earlier.

All of the tours around the world were planned around the theme "Walking on Water." Toronto's tour began in Union Plaza (also known as Maple Leaf Square), which is located only two blocks from the waterfront. The tour was led by CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee Chair James Parakh of the City of Toronto's Urban Design section of the City Planning Division. The plaza is framed by three developments including Maple Leaf Square complex, 25 York and The Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and features a public art piece called "Searchlight, Starlight, Spotlight" by artist John McEwen. During all regular season games as well as the playoffs, thousands of spectators gather in the square to take in a big game, which is broadcast on a large screen.

After taking in Maple Leaf Square, participants took the climate-controlled PATH system to reach the lake. This is the southern portion has over 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) of connected, climate-controlled walkways. While most of the PATH is below grade, as one gets closer to Lake Ontario the PATH is either at or one floor above ground level.

Tour participants pose for a group photo in Maple Leaf Square (left); "Jack's Got Your Back" sculpture at the Water's Edge designed by artist David Pellettier
The next stop on the tour was Harbour Plaza, a development consisting of an office tower and two 70-story residential buildings above a retail podium. The southern extent of the PATH walkway ends at Waterpark Place which is across the street from the waterfront.

Arriving at the Water’s Edge, the group visited the Jack Layton ferry docks and the statue known as "Jack's Got Your Back." Designed by artist David Pelletier, the sculpture allows spectators to hop on board a two-seated bicycle with an effigy of famous Canadian politician Jack Layton at the rear seat. The Ferry Dock was the next departure point which took visitors to Toronto Islands – a short 10-minute trip across the inner Harbour.

One of the newest completed developments on the Water's Edge is Pier 27, which has been designed with new public park space. The continuous waterfront promenade, designed by West 8, lines the edge of the development that fronts onto Lake Ontario. Pier 27 is designed by architectsAlliance and features two buildings both connected by bridge-like blocks which frame the space below. A major public art installation called "A Series of Whirlpool Field Maneuvers for Pier 27” by artist Alice Aycock is located along the Water’s Edge. The installation is very visible from the Water’s Edge, both by boats floating on the water to passengers landing at Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Centre Airport.
Pier 27 Condominiums (left); View along one of Pier 27's mid-block connections offering pedestrian access to the lake
A public art installation entitled "A Series of Whirlpool Field Maneuvers" for Pier 27 by artist Alice Aycock

The tour continued at the Redpath Sugar Factory, a remnant of Toronto's industrial past, followed by a stop at Canada's Sugar. Designed by Claude Cormier landscape architects, the park features a beach decorated with the signature pink umbrellas that have become emblematic of Toronto's waterfront.

Adjacent to the park is the Corus entertainment complex which is occupied by several television and radio stations. Surrounding retail and outdoor cafes help enliven the Water’s Edge Promenade.

The tour then arrived at Sherbourne Common, which is designed by PFS Landscape Studio from Vancouver and The Planning Partnership. The park features a reflecting pond which becomes a skating rink in the winter. Beneath the pavilion is a UV stormwater treatment facility. Water from the treatment plant is re-circulated through an art piece called “Light Showers”, designed by artist Jill Anhalt. Water from the sculpture flows into a 240-meter-long channel and back into Lake Ontario.

Canada’s Sugar Beach overlooks the unloading of freighters carrying raw materials to the Redpath Sugar Factory (left); The waterfront promenade is lined with shops and cafes to help animate the lake’s edge.
Sherbourne Common framed by Aqualina, a condominium complex designed by Architectonica / Kirkor Architects; and the Monde Condominiums, designed by Safdie Architects (left); The reflecting pond in Sherbourne Common becomes a skating rink in winter.

The final stop on the tour was a visit to the Tridel / Hines Presentation Centre to learn about the Aqualina development, which is designed by Copenhagen’s 3XN and Kirkor Architects. The group heard from representatives of the developers and architects about how the developments conform to the larger precinct planning master planned by the City. The plan includes retail, residential (including market condominiums and affordable rentals) as well as community services such as day cares, parks and community space.

The tour concluded with drinks overlooking Lake Ontario and the CN Tower. Tour participants enjoyed looking at tours from around the world via the twitter hashtag  #CTBUHWalks, noting that the Auckland tour had begun tweeting at 11:00 pm the night before.

Larger scale model of AquaLuna (left); Context model of Toronto’s East Bayfront