227 competitions documented 466 competitions listed
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Dreaming of the waterfront in black and white or in color?
by Jean-Pierre Chupin, published 2023-02-22
These two competitions, one for the Bassin Louise in Quebec City, the other for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in Toronto, are separated by three decades of design thinking on waterfronts. We offer a comparison that will appear somewhat unbalanced, however, since no less than seventy-five proposals were submitted in Quebec City in 1984 and only five in Toronto in 2014. People talked a lot about the relationship between public spaces and private financing in 1984, they talk more frankly about inclusive spaces and user expectations in 2014. The black-and-white ink drawings with rare perspectives for the Louise Basin are also a testament to a time, not so long ago, when we were betting big on a few sketches that the jury had to figure out how to interpret. It is not certain that today's students would still be able to read such "to scale" drawings, since the question of scale remains at the heart of urban landscape issues. To be convinced of this, you just have to open these competitions in two windows of your browser and appreciate the overflow of didactic, realistic and colorful visual representations that it is important today to provide to competition juries. To your bathing suits!


Old Port of Québec-Bassin Louise (1984) City of Québec

In 1984, the competition program announced that the Government of Canada would have disbursed, by the end of 1987, more than one hundred million dollars to ensure the redevelopment of this area. It was anticipated that the work would be completed in time for the international event commemorating the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's arrival in Canada. The area was to be used for commercial, administrative and socio-cultural activities, while the area around the Inner Louise Basin, with a marina for approximately 350 boats, would be used primarily for residential purposes. It was also hoped that the first housing units would be built by the fall of 1984. And, given its role as a developer and coordinator of public and private investment, the competition organizer said he did not want to "relinquish qualitative control of residential development to private enterprise and (wanted) to provide a mechanism that would ensure such control, while allowing some latitude of realization." No less than 75 detailed proposals will be submitted to this great contest. We will appreciate the quality of the ink drawings from another era. The jury was chaired by Mrs. Phyllis Lambert and included international personalities such as Mario Botta and national personalities such as Dan S. Hanganu. In addition to the winning project awarded to the team of Rudy P. Friesen & Associates, the jury awarded a second prize to Charle Barrett, a third prize to Wallman Clewes Architects and no less than 7 mentions. The following excerpt from the competition rules speaks volumes about the sponsor's hesitations and the jury's desire to open up the widest possible debate of ideas: "Aware of the difficulties that these constraints impose on us, the Canada Lands Company (Old Port of Quebec) Inc. wishes, through this competition, to develop an image plan to cover all the available land around the Louise Basin. The Corporation does not wish to be the project manager, with the exception of the sector planned for the public market, and consequently does not undertake to carry out the project with the firm selected as having presented the best project. However, on the basis of this image plan, the Corporation will invite various private companies operating in the construction and operation of real estate projects to submit proposals to carry out part or all of the project, within the framework that the result of the competition will impose on them. This guide plan will direct and constrain the intervention of private companies interested in the realization of the project.”

Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park (2014) Toronto

In 2014, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto sponsored a six-week innovative design competition for the ferry terminal named for political leader Jack Layton and Harbour Square Park to help develop bold new concepts for this important site. The new watchword this time was less about the scale of infrastructure and more about new values of inclusion and reflecting the needs and aspirations of the millions of ferry users. The goal was to "produce a unifying and inspiring master plan for the ferry terminal, the surrounding park and adjacent areas that can be built in phases over time." In contrast to the tension between public space and private funding in the Quebec City competition, this time it was necessary to propose cost-effective solutions that would have the greatest impact in the context of a publicly funded and maintained facility.

The competition was very limited in size and budget and was restrained to 5 projects. Donald Schmitt was the president of the jury and Claude Cormier, already a famous landscape architect, was for once on the side of the judges and not the competitors. The KPMB, West7 and Greenberg consortium was chosen as the winner ahead of such prestigious teams as Stoss, NArchitecs, ZAS, Diller Scofidio, Alliance, Clément Blancher, Batle RVTR or Quadrangle, aLLDesign and Janet Rosenberg. These great teams were not attracted by the meager $20K fee nor by the initial cost of $600K but by the magnitude of the urban and landscape challenge of a "waterfront park." Or, in the words of the winner: “In addition to ennobling the experience of arrival from and departure to the ferries, providing for continuity along the water's edge and solving significant functional challenges, there is also an opportunity here to create something special in the city that is more than the sum of its parts - a "jewel" with a human face.”
Nothing is too good for the waterfronts.
IMPORTANT NOTICE : Unless otherwise indicated, photographs of buildings and projects are from professional or institutional archives. All reproduction is prohibited unless authorized by the architects, designers, office managers, consortiums or archives centers concerned. The researchers of the Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence are not held responsible for any omissions or inaccuracies, but appreciate all comments and pertinent information that will permit necessary modifications during future updates.
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