PFS Studio: As a key component of the redevelopment and renaissance of Toronto’s waterfront, Sherbourne Common is at once a major civic amenity, neighbourhood park, and poetic stormwater treatment infrastructure. Located along the downtown shoreline of Lake Ontario, Sherbourne Common successfully synthesizes urban living with the natural elements of the classic Ontario lakeshore: the woods, the water, and the green. The park operates as both city-wide destination and neighbourhood amenity, to be used in all seasons and times of day.
The north side of the park integrates playgrounds, gardens, water features, public art, and intimate gathering spaces. The south side of the park features a multipurpose central pond (splash park in the summer and a skating rink in the winter), a jewel-like zinc-clad park pavilion designed by Teeple Architects, and a great civic green providing ample space for festivals, concerts and other city-wide events overlooking Lake Ontario. The north and south sides of the park are tied together with a carefully structured ‘bosque’, two grand allees, and a water channel that celebrates the return of treated stormwater to the lake.
The park represents a major innovation in the way cities integrate natural systems and civic infrastructure. Stormwater management is integral to the park’s aesthetic and interactive functioning. The stormwater narrative is the primary organizing feature of the park and describes the journey and transformation of stormwater from the sky to the ground and ultimately to the lake. The process of cleansing stormwater binds all of the elements of the park together, and turns the entire park into an aesthetic and experiential stormwater system. Sherbourne Common is the first park in Canada to integrate a UV purification facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment into its design. Collected stormwater is treated in a UV Purification Facility and released from three dramatic art features (created by Jill Anholt Studio) into a 240 meter long sculpted water channel where it travels through a biofiltration bed planted with aquatic grasses, passes through the park pavilion, and is released back into Lake Ontario.
Design Lead / Landscape Architecture: PFS Studio
Design Team: The Planning Partnership – Local Landscape Architect
Jill Anholt Studio – Public Art
Teeple Architects – Pavilion Architect
Client: Waterfront Toronto
Project Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Design and Construction: 2007-2011
Photography: Waterfront Toronto, Tom Arban, Frederick Moesker
Text: PFS Studio