Earlier this week, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announced the winner of its Landmark Award, recognizing The Village of Yorkville Park in Toronto. The Landmark Award is awarded to international projects built at least 15 years ago that have retained their original design integrity and continue to be vital components of the public realm. The design team behind the park was composed of Oleson Worland Architects, Ken Smith Landscape Architect and Schwartz Smith Meyer Landscape Architects.

Yorkville Park in Toronto Village of Yorkville Park looking east from Cumberland, image from Google Streetview

The park was commissioned by the City of Toronto following the transformation of Yorkville from its mid-century BoHo character to its Mink Mile status. The storied site was originally home to Victorian-era row houses, demolished in the 1960s to make way for the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway line below. The site was subsequently converted into a parking lot and became the bane of many area-residents and a staging area for many of the 'Be-Ins' that occurred in Yorkville during the 1960s. 

Oleson Worland’s design connects the site to the larger provincial landscape, notably through representing the varying geographies that span our province. Ten unique ‘zones’ stretch along Cumberland Avenue; the narrow succession of landscapes recall the row houses that used to fill the neighbourhood, creating a connection between the Yorkville of today and its Victorian roots. The most well-known zone, affectionately known as 'The Rock', is located directly beside the Cumberland exit of Bay Station. The 700-ton piece of Muskoka granite was handpicked from a farmer’s field 150 miles north of Toronto and re-assembled on the site.

Yorkville Park in Toronto The Rock in Yorkville Park, image by Sharon VanderKaay

Oleson Worland's more recent work in Toronto includes the Don Valley Brick Works and Downsview Park designs, and a collaboration with Hariri Pontarini Architects on the design for Art Condos, located at Dovercourt and Sudbury Streets.