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The Bentway Announces Six Shortlisted Teams for Waterfront ReConnect Design Competition

October 15, 2021 Arts & Culture, Community

Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway cuts across the full length of the city, acting as both a physical and psychological barrier between the city’s core and its blossoming waterfront. A collaboration with the City of Toronto, the Waterfront Business Improvement Area, the Toronto Downtown West Business Improvement Area, and The Bentway, the Waterfront ReConnect Design Competition explores the potential for this obstacle to be reimagined as a vital point of connection.

Today we are very pleased to announce the six shortlisted teams for the design competition. The goal of the competition is to develop creative interventions that result in a more welcoming and accessible experience of the York and Simcoe under-Gardiner intersections for pedestrians and cyclists. Launched by the Waterfront BIA in 2019, the first ReConnect project at Rees St. (near the Rogers Centre), incorporates design elements such as bright reflective paint, enhanced pedestrian markings, and improved wayfinding to create a new neighbourhood gateway.

After a very successful open call for expressions of interest, where we received submissions from professional artists and designers to across the country, we are pleased to announce the six shortlisted teams:

York Street Intersection

Sans Façon + Zeidler (Calgary/Toronto)

Sans façon and Zeidler Architecture are excited to explore the possibilities of the Waterfront ReConnect Design Competition. These lost spaces, unwelcoming yet often majestic residues of mono-functional designs are emblematic of Toronto’s Gardiner. This is a unique opportunity to instigate new relationships with these complex places, to reconsider our cities, their multiple layers of histories, who they are for, how we enjoy them and their equity of use.

Sans façon is an art practice based in Calgary and Zeidler Architecture is based in Toronto with offices in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.

LeuWebb Projects + DIALOG + Mulvey & Banani Lighting (Toronto)

LeuWebb Projects and DIALOG with Mulvey Banani Lighting propose a collaborative, interdisciplinary exploration that pairs creative risk-taking and experimentation with deep technical expertise, public realm experience and design innovation to provide the grounds for unprecedented outcomes. They want to push the boundaries of what’s possible and create a prototype for the city with the capacity to transform. Collectively, they are inspired to activate and engage the public realm through art and landscape design across a wide range of scales, materials, senses, and durations.

5468796 Architecture Inc. (Winnipeg)

Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture joins forces with long time collaborator Brandon Bergem of Office In Search Of. The team is known for its refreshingly bold, formally adventurous and provocative work. 5468796 is strongly committed to creating socially, culturally and environmentally relevant and responsible architecture no matter the typology or scale. Parallel to the practice of architecture, they actively pursue initiatives geared to engage and elevate public consciousness, participation and appreciation of good design. These projects include Design Quarter Winnipeg, Walk Winnipeg, One Bucket at a Time [Winnipeg + Mexico City], Chair Your Idea, Table for 12 + 1200, International Warming Huts Competition and the Venice Biennale’s Migrating Landscapes.

Simcoe Street Intersection

O2 Planning & Design Inc. + Mulvey & Banani Lighting + ENTUITIVE (Calgary/Toronto)

O2 Planning & Design (O2) is a collaborative studio that integrates landscape architecture, ecology, urban design, and planning in a holistic practice to create highly valued places. O2 has teamed up with Entuitive for engineering and Mulvey & Banani for lighting expertise. As professionals, they know that the best designs emerge when you engage difficult conversations and embrace diversity. They engage public collaborations that reflect places rather than impose a singular vision. Their team (based in Calgary and Toronto) brings enthusiasm and expertise in graphic art, wayfinding, landscape architecture, urban design, lighting design, and structural engineering. 

Their design approach is to discover new connections, reveal beauty, and facilitate new ways of seeing and interacting with communities. This philosophy seamlessly integrates with “Waterfront ReConnect” which aims to bring people together and connect people with the waterfront.

Daily Tous Les Jours + SvN Architects + Planners + Latéral (Montreal/Toronto)

Daily tous les jours, in collaboration with SvN Architects + Planners, and Latérale Conseil, will be closely considering both the needs and possibilities that the Simcoe St. site presents. They will explore the transformative potential of a transitional experience that can bridge Toronto’s downtown to its waterfront. They will also examine life under the Gardiner, and how reimagining such spaces can lead to new relationships with our urban infrastructure, strengthening connections between people, nature and communities.

SOCA + Tiffany Shaw-Collinge + SHEEEP (Toronto/Edmonton)

The purposeful gathering of SOCA (Toronto/Tkaronto), Tiffany Shaw-Collinge (Edmonton/amiskwaciwâskahikan) and SHEEEP (Toronto/Tkaronto) will strengthen and build upon the intangible heritage (stories and meaning) surrounding the Waterfront ReConnect Design Competition. The team has expertise in public art, curation, community engagement, urban design and architecture. They represent values inherent to water, which is to remain flexible to the site’s challenges while revealing its many opportunities through a historical, political, and environmental lens.


These teams will now embark on a nine-week design exercise to develop concepts for the individual sites. The final design proposals will be made available online for public viewing and input and will be evaluated by a jury of design and arts professionals:

York Street Intersection

  • Sam Carter-Shamai – The Bentway
  • Udo Schliemann – Waterfront BIA Board member
  • Yannik Roberge – Claude Cormier Studio Manager
  • Claire Breukel – ProjectArt
  • Karen Kang – Interior Design Show

Simcoe Street Intersection

  • Ilana Altman – The Bentway
  • Udo Schliemann – Waterfront BIA Board member
  • Mathew F Clarke – Design Trust for Public Space
  • Marah Braye – Harbourfront Center
  • Matthew Hickey – Two-Row Architect

One winning proposal for each intersection will be selected to be constructed in 2022. These demonstration projects will be in place until the Gardiner Expressway is rehabilitated in this area between 2025-2028. The new ideas and approaches highlighted by the proposals will inform future connectivity and improvements to the public realm across and under the Gardiner Expressway.


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