Dreaming of the waterfront in black and white or in color?
These two competitions, one for the Bassin Louise in Quebec City, the other for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in Toronto, are separated by three decades of design thinking on waterfronts. We offer a comparison that will appear somewhat unbalanced, however, since no less than seventy-five proposals were submitted in Quebec City in 1984 and only five in Toronto in 2014. People talked a lot about the relationship between public spaces and private financing in 1984, they talk more frankly about inclusive spaces and user expectations in 2014. The black-and-white ink drawings with rare perspectives for the Louise Basin are also a testament to a time, not so long ago, when we were betting big on a few sketches that the jury had to figure out how to interpret. It is not certain that today's students would still be able to read such "to scale" drawings, since the question of scale remains at the heart of urban landscape issues. To be convinced of this, you just have to open these competitions in two windows of your browser and appreciate the overflow of didactic, realistic and colorful visual representations that it is important today to provide to competition juries. To your bathing suits!
Old Port of Québec-Bassin Louise (1984) City of Québec
In 1984, the competition program announced that the Government of Canada would have disbursed, by the end of 1987, more than one hundred million dollars to ensure the redevelopment of this area. It was anticipated that the work would be completed in time for the international event commemorating the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's arrival in Canada. The area was to be used for commercial, administrative and socio-cultural activities, while the area around the Inner Louise Basin, with a marina for approximately 350 boats, would be used primarily for residential purposes. It was also hoped that the first housing units would be built by the fall of 1984. And, given its role as a developer and coordinator of public and private investment, the competition organizer said he did not want to "relinquish qualitative control of residential development to private enterprise and (wanted) to provide a mechanism that would ensure such control, while allowing some latitude of realization." No less than 75 detailed proposals will be submitted to this great contest. We will appreciate the quality of the ink drawings from another era. The jury was chaired by Mrs. Phyllis Lambert and included international personalities such as Mario Botta and national personalities such as Dan S. Hanganu. In addition to the winning project awarded to the team of Rudy P. Friesen & Associates, the jury awarded a second prize to Charle Barrett, a third prize to Wallman Clewes Architects and no less than 7 mentions. The following excerpt from the competition rules speaks volumes about the sponsor's hesitations and the jury's desire to open up the widest possible debate of ideas: "Aware of the difficulties that these constraints impose on us, the Canada Lands Company (Old Port of Quebec) Inc. wishes, through this competition, to develop an image plan to cover all the available land around the Louise Basin. The Corporation does not wish to be the project manager, with the exception of the sector planned for the public market, and consequently does not undertake to carry out the project with the firm selected as having presented the best project. However, on the basis of this image plan, the Corporation will invite various private companies operating in the construction and operation of real estate projects to submit proposals to carry out part or all of the project, within the framework that the result of the competition will impose on them. This guide plan will direct and constrain the intervention of private companies interested in the realization of the project.”
Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park (2014) Toronto
In 2014, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto sponsored a six-week innovative design competition for the ferry terminal named for political leader Jack Layton and Harbour Square Park to help develop bold new concepts for this important site. The new watchword this time was less about the scale of infrastructure and more about new values of inclusion and reflecting the needs and aspirations of the millions of ferry users. The goal was to "produce a unifying and inspiring master plan for the ferry terminal, the surrounding park and adjacent areas that can be built in phases over time." In contrast to the tension between public space and private funding in the Quebec City competition, this time it was necessary to propose cost-effective solutions that would have the greatest impact in the context of a publicly funded and maintained facility.
The competition was very limited in size and budget and was restrained to 5 projects. Donald Schmitt was the president of the jury and Claude Cormier, already a famous landscape architect, was for once on the side of the judges and not the competitors. The KPMB, West7 and Greenberg consortium was chosen as the winner ahead of such prestigious teams as Stoss, NArchitecs, ZAS, Diller Scofidio, Alliance, Clément Blancher, Batle RVTR or Quadrangle, aLLDesign and Janet Rosenberg. These great teams were not attracted by the meager $20K fee nor by the initial cost of $600K but by the magnitude of the urban and landscape challenge of a "waterfront park." Or, in the words of the winner: “In addition to ennobling the experience of arrival from and departure to the ferries, providing for continuity along the water's edge and solving significant functional challenges, there is also an opportunity here to create something special in the city that is more than the sum of its parts - a "jewel" with a human face.”
Nothing is too good for the waterfronts.
Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto sponsored a six-week Innovative Design Competition for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park to help develop bold new concepts for this important site. The dedication of the Toronto Island Ferry terminal in memory of the late political leader Jack Layton creates a new imperative to remake this important gateway into something of which Toronto, Ontario and Canada can be proud of. It presents an exciting opportunity to develop an inclusive process that reflects the needs and aspirations of millions of ferry users, promotes outstanding architectural and park design, and builds upon the larger revitalization effort of the Central Waterfront and Queens Quay Boulevard.
The ultimate goal of this Innovative Design Competition was to produce a unifying and inspiring master plan for the ferry terminal, surrounding parkland, and adjacent areas that can be built in phases over time.
While a high value was placed on bringing bold, new ideas to this design challenge, understanding marine safety and regulatory restrictions was important to ensure the viability of this master plan. The designs were to propose cost-effective solutions that will have as much impact as possible within the context of a publically funded and maintained facility. The designs were to be conscious of the long-term maintenance implications, of these heavily used facilities.
Given the wide range of challenges - from pragmatic to the poetic - there were two broad goals for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park Innovative Design Competition seeked to achieve:
Goal #1: Create an inspiring vision for the long-term transformation of the Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park to be articulated in a Master Plan.
Goal #2: Develop a short-term landscape enhancement proposal for Phase 1 implementation.
Five teams, representing a range of different architectural and landscape philosophies, were shortlisted to participate in the Design Competition for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park, based on the program set out in the competition brief.
(From competition program)
The submissions were reviewed by a Jury of distinguished arts and design professionals. The Jury was formed by Waterfront Toronto and City of Toronto and was charged with offering their best judgment as to which proposal best represented the collective aspirations of the City of Toronto for its waterfront.
In order to achieve the goals described in the program brief, seven elements were identified as required components of the proposals. The jury considered the team's approach to each of these elements in making their final selection.
1. Iconic and Welcoming Ferry Terminal
2. Continuous Waterfront Access
3. Improved Queuing Areas
4. Enhanced Harbour Square Park
5. Connections between the terminal and the rest of the city
6. Promote Sustainable Development
7. Provide Universal Access
(From competition program)
Design Proposals for Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park Unveiled for Public Comment - West 8
Winner of Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park competition announced, Canadian Architect, 2015
White, Craig, Design Competition Launched for new Jack Layton Ferry Terminal | UrbanToronto, 2014
Landau, Jack, Winning Entry Announced for Jack Layton Ferry Terminal | UrbanToronto, 2015
Kelly, ouis-Thomas, Initial Phase of Work at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal Open | UrbanToronto, 2018
Kohut, New design for Toronto ferry terminal revealed - Toronto | Globalnews.ca, 2015
Chernick, November, Waterfront design proposals open to public input, The Toronto Observer, 2015
Bozikovic, Alex, Winning design announced for new Toronto Islands ferry terminal, 2015