Issue 42 of On Site Review (Atlas: Being in Place), features an essay by founding partner Lisa Rapoport on UNmapping long driving experiences by pulling experiences and physical maps apart. The article revisits PLANT’s Blink and you miss it exhibit and a map of North Bay. The issue can be read from cover to cover here: Lisa’s article begins on page 40.
There are many larger architecture firms in Canada, but we’re flattered that Architizer has ranked us one of the nation’s finest. PLANT clocked in at number 20 on the U.S.-based design website’s 2023 list of 25 Best Architecture Firms in Canada.
We’re thrilled that Architizer has placed us in the good company of Moriyama & Teshima Architects: PLANT has been MTA’s landscape architecture sub-consultant on projects including Toronto Metropolitan University’s Centre for Urban Innovation and The Commons on the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. We’re currently working with MTA and Smoke Architecture on the Mukwa Waakaa’igan Indigenous Centre of Cultural Excellence at Algoma University in Salt Ste. Marie, Ontario. In the 2022 Architizer A+ Awards, that project received a Popular Choice Award. Mukwa Waakaa’igan has already received several other honours, including a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence and a World Architecture FestivAl WAFX Award.
We were delighted to see Globe and Mail Architourist columnist Dave LeBlanc’s article about Hungarian-born, Toronto-based architect Ernest Annau (1931 - 2000). Annau was, as LeBlanc says, a ‘small m’ modernist who designed condominium complexes with a human scale and integrated them into urbanely engaging landscapes.
One of PLANT’s recently completed projects happens to be a landscape renewal for the Annau-designed Rosegarden Mews, on Walker Avenue in Toronto. This cluster of 35 townhouse units received a 1979 Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect magazine. A few years ago, when the waterproofing membrane over the underground parking garage below the complex needed replacing, necessitating the removal of the existing landscape, the condominium’s board selected PLANT to design the successor landscape. Now completed, this new landscape deploys shrubs and taller perennials to emulate the shade and privacy conditions of mature plantings while its young trees establish themselves. In keeping with the varied, village-like configuration of Annau’s townhouses, we provided the owners of the units with a menu of options for customizing their courtyard-facing patio landscapes, tailored to north-facing and south-facing orientations. LeBlanc’s Rosegarden Mews photos, which accompany his article, show off the new landscape nicely.
If you are a Globe and Mail online subscriber, you can view the article about Annau and his work here.
A new issue of Canadian Interiors has just been published and we’re excited to have a PLANT project featured in it. Megan DeLaire writes about our design for Superkids Pediatric Dentistry in “All smiles,” her article about how design can mitigate the fear factor of a trip to the dentist – a perennial subject with expanded relevance in these pandemic times. Her article begins on p.29 of CI’s online March/April 2022 issue, which can be read from cover to cover here.
Mulock Park, the transformation of a former private estate in Newmarket, ON, into the town’s ‘Central Park’, has received full approval from the Town of Newmarket and is now in Schematic Design by PLANT Architect Inc. This four-season destination for naturalized public realm space and cultural activity will include an enhanced wetland and riverine water feature, a woodland skate trail and pavilion, conservatory and diversity gardens, an artist-in-residence studio, and many other feature areas. Mulock Park’s $40-million budget makes it Newmarket’s most ambitious parks project to date.
The process of re-envisioning the former Mulock estate for public use began in 2018, when the Town of Newmarket purchased the property at the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Mulock Drive from the heirs of Sir William Mulock. The following year, a team headed by PLANT was awarded the project. An extensive consultation program, led by team member PROCESS in partnership with the Town of Newmarket, involved collecting input from more than 3,000 Newmarket residents about their preferences for the site’s redevelopment and the adaptive reuse of its 19th-century manor house. This community feedback, in tandem with close collaboration with the Town of Newmarket’s Council and staff, informed the two-stage master plan that PLANT developed.
In the first stage, PLANT proposed three concepts for the redesign of the site. The consultation process led to the selection of a hybridized, nature-focused approach for more detailed, stage-two development. Key community priorities that emerged during the consultation process were the preservation of the manor house and its historical gardens; the development of contemporary art programs for the site; and the importance of telling the site’s many histories, stretching back through millennia of pre-settler habitation by First Nations peoples and forward to reflect the increasingly diverse composition of Newmarket’s population. Early in 2021, PLANT presented its advanced concept (summarized in this video) to Council and the community. The project’s budget received unanimous approval on June 8, 2021 from Newmarket Town Council. Through responsible budgeting and planning for the future, the Mulock Property’s operational and capital charges will be fully funded by growth and will have no tax implications to Newmarket residents.
Site investigations are now underway and PLANT has begun the process of seeing the project through to fruition. Mulock Park will encompass the remaining 11.6 acres of the Mulock estate grounds. Most of the land in what had once been a 200-acre farm had already been sold off and redeveloped, including a 3.4-acre parcel along the west edge of the present site that is now Jim Bond Park. An outcome of the consultation process was the decision to redevelop this existing park as part of Mulock Park, bringing the new park’s total area up to 15 acres.
Mulock Park’s name derives from Sir William Mulock (1843-1944), who, over the course of his long and industrious life, held positions including University of Toronto vice-chancellor, Liberal Member of Parliament in Canada’s House of Commons, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario, and Canada’s Postmaster General. For several decades the Mulock property in Newmarket was his country house. There, he hosted heads of state and luminaries from many different fields. His working farm was a research hub for agrarian science – and locally famous for the apples it sold.
While Mulock was a remarkable individual, it was clear even before the Mulock Park master planning process began that the site needed to be redeveloped in a way that would reflect the area’s millennia of history and celebrate Newmarket’s increasingly diverse identity. It was also clear that this park needed to provide green space in a part of town where intensive new residential development is pending. At the same time, Mulock Park is envisioned as a destination that will not only serve the local community but also attract visitors from a much wider area.
Early in Mulock Park’s master-planning process, five guiding principles emerged:
- A Destination: Ensure this site becomes a significant place to visit in Newmarket.
- Rooted in History and Forward Looking: Share the multiple layers of history and evolution of the Town on the site.
- Natural: Maintain and enhance the natural features of the landscape.
- Connected: Connect the site with the neighbouring areas through pedestrian walkways, trails, and cycling routes.
- Inclusive and Accessible: Create an inclusive and accessible site for all residents and visitors.
“Mulock Park is a symbiotic integration of architecture and landscape,” says PLANT partner Lisa Rapoport, who leads the Mulock Park design team. “The design we’ve developed in collaboration with Newmarket residents, Town Council, and stakeholders introduces new buildings to the site, preserves the heritage manor house while adapting it to an exciting range of possible new community uses, and focuses on ecological regeneration and the use of the site for many types of cultural activities, as well as passive recreational activities. We see the park as a network of destinations, linked by trails that will encourage people to explore different parts of the site on each visit.”
“Over the past two years, thousands of community members came together to share their vision for the iconic Mulock property,” says Newmarket Mayor John Taylor. “Born from shared ideas, stories and experiences, we are incredibly excited to bring our shared vision to life. We look forward to the completion of this magical place that will bring joy to the community for many years to come.”
The eight main site areas will be:
- Entry Area at Yonge Street and Mulock Drive: Near a landmark artwork that draws people into the park, an entry bridge will span a marshy part of the site that has been enhanced into a naturalized wetland.
- Riverine Water Feature: North of the entry bridge, naturalized gardens and boulders along a meandering water feature will recall the ancient glacial moraine.
- House & Great Lawn: This area will support food services, community events, and arts and heritage experiences. The manor house will be restored and renovated for future uses that may include a café, event spaces, and an art gallery and studios.
- Skate Trail: Used for skating in the winter, a woodland loop will convert to a walking trail from spring to fall.
- Ice Pond, Wet Plaza & Pavilion: Adjacent to a new amenity pavilion that also serves the Skate Trail, a small winter skating rink will convert to splash pad use in the summer.
- Conservatory & Diversity Gardens: The manor house’s garage and stables will be adaptively reused as a conservatory, containing and surrounded by gardens honouring the area’s Indigenous history and the diversity of Newmarket’s residents.
- Historic Garden & Artist Studio: A new artist-in-residence studio will be integrated into the revitalized heritage garden of the Mulock estate, originally designed by the prominent 1920s Toronto husband-and-wife firm H.B. & L.A. Dunington-Grubb, Landscape Architects.
- Jim Bond Park Natural Playground: Jim Bond Park will be redesigned to include a playground that turns fallen trees into engaging terrain for children to explore.
Construction of Mulock Park is expected to commence in 2023.
About the Town of Newmarket:
The Town of Newmarket is a thriving community in York Region, just north of Toronto. It is home to over 90,000 residents, over 41,000 local jobs, great restaurants, a regional healthcare facility and much more. Newmarket is consistently named one of Canada’s most dynamic, diverse and desirable places to live and work. The Town is also widely considered a progressive place committed to collaboration, creativity, environmental initiatives and innovation. For more information visit newmarket.ca
We are delighted to share the news that the Bloor/Kipling & Islington Developments have won a 2021 Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence, in the Visions and Master Plans category. PLANT is the landscape design consultant to Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects and Toronto-based Adamson Associates Architects on CreateTO’s west-end Toronto Housing Now projects for the Bloor-Kipling (Six Points) and Bloor-Kipling Focus Areas. Now in construction, the 13.8-acre Bloor-Kipling Focus Area is a $77-M capital investment that will create six mixed-use blocks, including the new Etobicoke Civic Centre block. The Bloor-Islington Focus Area is a 4.9-acre parcel that will be redeveloped to provide an affordable/market mix of approximately 1,280 high-rise residential units, integrated with commercial and retail space at and near grade.
“Neighbourhood scale is carefully arranged to achieve thresholds and a sense of public/semi-public open spaces that are well proportioned and have a sense of overlook, intimacy, and safety for users,” the jurors stated. “… This redevelopment plan shows the potential of future mixed-use residential development to incorporate vibrant habitats in shared environments that help us thrive together.”
We have of late been enjoying a deep dive into Advanced Typography , recently published by our long-time friend and collaborator Richard Hunt. More than just a technical guide, the book explores the history and cultural evolution of type, it’s effect on the presentation of ideas, and the ways in which it is transforming as new technologies change the way we interact with information. Full of delightful examples – and occasionally pointed commentary – we were also pleased that some of the work we’ve done with Richard features as well.
Another month, another lovely article on PLANT’s First Avenue Residence! In March 2021 our renovation of a tall, narrow townhome in what was originally a 19th-century dairy was featured as a Designlines Online “Show us where you live,” and on April 2, 2021, this project received a full-page feature in The Globe and Mail’s Real Estate section. If you’re a Globe subscriber, you can read Ximena Gonzalez’s “A renovation focused on wood and light” here.
Nearly a decade after Graham McLeod and Tim O’Fallon hired PLANT to design their garden, they asked us to renovate the interior of their residence – a lofty but narrow three-storey slice of a Toronto heritage building that was originally a dairy. Azure senior associate editor Evan Pavka has just posted a wonderful “Show us where you live” article on this project on Azure’s website. PLANT also did a refresh on the landscape when we completed the interior renovation on Tim and Graham’s place – please see First Avenue Garden on our own website for an update on that part of the project.