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$25M project transforms space under expressway


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November 17, 2015 by STAFF REPORT

$25M project will transform public space under expressway
$25M project will transform public space under expressway

A new $25 million project will transform the public space under the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto.

Funded by phanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews, Project Under Gardiner will see the creation of more than four hectares (10 acres) of new public space and 1.75 kilometres of multi-use trail beneath the elevated expressway from just west of Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue. Construction is set to start in the summer of 2016, with the initial phase of the project aiming for completion in 2017.

Project Under Gardiner envisions a dynamic new public space that creates connections between some of Toronto’s newest and most dense neighbourhoods, including Liberty Village, Niagara, Fort York Neighbourhood, CityPlace, Bathurst Quay and Wellington Place. The project will knit these communities together with innovative programmable spaces that will showcaseToronto’s unique cultural and related offerings – music, food, theatre, visual arts, education and civics, dance, sports and recreation. These spaces have been conceived as “rooms” that are defined by the series of concrete post-and-beam structural elements supporting the Gardiner. Up to 55 civic rooms can be fashioned to house a wide variety of year-round programming.

City planner and urban designer Ken Greenberg heads the design team, working with Adam Nicklin and Marc Ryan of PUBLIC WORK, an urban design and landscape architecture studio. Together, they have established a framework for the project that will use key landmarks as anchors – Historic Fort York and its stunning new Visitor Centre, the new Fort York Library, and nearby green spaces such as June Callwood Park, Coronation Park, Garrison Common and the Toronto Music Garden on Queens Quay.

Waterfront Toronto will manage and build the project on behalf of the City, and the Matthews’ gift will leverage the City’s existing investment in rehabilitating and maintaining the Gardiner Expressway.