Issue 36 of Stephanie White’s extraordinary On Site Review has just been published, and we’re proud to be part of it. This issue’s theme, Our Material Future, addresses points of intersection between the material world and the science of the climate crisis. On Site 36: 2020 asks the question, “What must we save and how?” PLANT’s Lisa Rapoport, in her essay, “Material Memory,” looks back on two PLANT landscape projects, Sweet Farm and Dublin Grounds of Remembrance, that promote engagement with the environment as a means of sustaining it. She answers the “What must we save?” question by describing how PLANT’s recent With Words as their Actions artwork for Ottawa’s Lyon Station preserves the memory of 19th-century women who preserved the history of the community founded as Bytown, at the time when it was about to change its name and become the nation’s capital. The entire On Site 36: 2020 issue can be read online here.

After a 23-year absence, the horses have returned to the Kay Gardner Beltline Park Bridge. Iron Horse was a much-loved temporary art installation by Toronto artist Robert Sprachman that traversed Yonge Street just south of Merton Street from 1994 to 1996. When PLANT completed a new master plan a few years ago for the Midtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA), our clients told us they were eager to re-create the artwork as a permanent gateway into their district. This objective became part of the master plan, and the official unveiling of the completed installation took place on November 30, 2019.
The title alludes to the history of the bridge: originally a horse-and-buggy overpass, the bridge became part of the Toronto Belt Line Railway in the late 19th century. The ‘iron horses’ of various passenger and freight railway services rumbled along its tracks into the 1960s, and in the 1980s the conversion of the Belt Line into its present use as a recreational trail began.
Funded by the Midtown Yonge BIA and the City of Toronto, the new Iron Horse permanent public art installation re-creates Sprachman’s horses in a durable mix of recycled fiberglass and plastic, and incorporates a solar-powered LED lighting system that illuminates the pedestrian pathway and the equine sculptures at night.

Prætorium Analysis Axonometric
Drawing by Lisa Rapoport

Our Roman roots will be showing when the ROMA XL exhibit opens later this month at Toronto’s Istituto Italiano di Cultura. This show features drawings executed by former Waterloo School of Architecture students – including PLANT’s Lisa Rapoport and Chris Pommer – during their term of study in Rome. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Rome program, the exhibit also includes drawings by Alison Brooks, Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe, John Shnier and other U of Waterloo Architecture grads who have gone on to illustrious careers. Curator Sascha Hastings juxtaposes students’ Rome-term drawings with their subsequent built work to reveal “unexpected influences of Roman architecture, landscape and urban design on Canadian architects today.” The opening reception takes place on October 16 from 6:30 to 8 pm; the exhibition is open to the public from October 17 to November 1.

Evergreen Brick Works (photo: Evergreen Brick Works)
Photo: Evergreen Brick Works

We are very excited to be working with LGA Architectural Partners and the stakeholder engagement consultants at PROCESS on developing a new Evergreen Brick Works Master Plan. Operated by Evergreen for nearly a decade in Toronto’s Don Valley, this former industrial site and quarry is a thriving community hub and demonstration site for sustainable urban practices. PLANT is the landscape architecture lead on the multidisciplinary team that is charting the adaptive reuse of un-used or under-utilized buildings on the site, developing design strategies that support Evergreen’s fostering of sustainable future cities, and strengthening links between the Brick Works and surrounding ravines and trails. A lively and inclusive public consultation program is central to this project’s unique master-planning process. For more information and participation options, please see Evergreen’s media release.

Today many PLANT people took part in the Toronto Climate Strike. Let’s hear it for all our design community colleagues and everyone else who took to the streets in so many cities for this crucial cause!

View of the NPS Bike Station (photo: Scott Norsworthy)
Photo: Scott Norsworthy

PLANT congratulates Vis Sankrithi’s uoai architects team on winning an Award of Merit (Elements Category) in the 2019 Toronto Urban Design Awards for the Nathan Phillips Square Bicycle Station. This recently completed phase of the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization (overall project by PLANT and Perkins+Will in joint venture) provides what the TUDA jurors described as “the first contemporary bicycle parking in downtown Toronto.” Located under Toronto City Hall’s civic square, this new dedicated space for two-wheeled transit contains double-tier bike stands and tools for keeping cyclist’s vehicles in optimal road-ready shape. The jurors praised the bicycle station for offering cyclists “an experience that goes beyond providing an underground utility”: the facility incorporates visuals from the 513 entries for the 1958 New City Hall International Design Competition, including the winning design by Finland’s Viljo Revell. Congratulations to uoai architects as well for being part of the team behind The Blue Room art pieces for the College Promenade Streetscape & Parkettes, which also received TUDA recognition in two categories.

Today PLANT partner Mary Tremain was proud to take part in a ceremony honouring the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden’s Award of Excellence from the International Downtown Association. In 2018 the Peace Garden PLANT designed for Toronto’s Dundas Roncesvalles neighbourhood was the only Canadian project to win this international award for improvements to public space. Organized by the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden and the Roncesvalles Village BIA, today’s ceremony involved a shared planting and the exchange of sacred tobacco seeds with a Mississaugas of the Credit representative and the conferring of IDA plaques on the BIA and the City of Toronto. A class of Grade 7 students from Fern Public School who had participated last fall in planting Tulips for Peace in the Peace Garden was on hand at the ceremony to see their tulips in bloom. Congratulations to all involved in making this small, ‘leftover’ piece of land such a successful community project!

PLANT’s Face to Face / Tête à Tête parklet for Toronto’s King Street Transit Pilot has been shortlisted for a 2019 WLA (World Landscape Architecture) Award! It’s one of four finalists in the “Built Small” category; the other three are from Italy, Israel, and Australia. The WLA Award winners will be announced on April 16.