Toronto Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners, Ontario urban installation, Canadian Architecture News

Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners

9 March 2022

Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

The Bentway Announces Winners Of Waterfront Reconnect National Design Competition: Boom Town & Pixel Story

Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners news

Temporary design installations to transform intersections under the Gardiner Expressway as The Bentway continues to demonstrate new possibilities for Toronto’s shared infrastructure.

Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud, 2021:
The Bentway Toronto Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud
photo : Julian Romano

Toronto – March, 2022. The Bentway, in partnership with the City of Toronto, Waterfront BIA, and Toronto Downtown West BIA, has announced the winners of the national Waterfront ReConnect design competition — an initiative that will realize temporary installations, proposed by some of Canada’s most innovative design professionals, to improve accessibility and civic engagement under the Gardiner Expressway, along Lake Shore Blvd at both York Street and Simcoe Street.

Map of westward expansion of Bentway:
Map of westward expansion of Bentway Toronto

The winning designs are: Boom Town at York Street by 5468796 Architecture + Office In Search Of (Winnipeg/Toronto); and Pixel Story at Simcoe Street by O2 Planning + Design + Mulvey & Banani Lighting + ENTUITIVE (Calgary/Toronto). The selected designs will be installed in fall 2022 and will remain in place until that section of the Gardiner Expressway undergoes necessary repairs (scheduled for 2025).

“Waterfront ReConnect continues The Bentway’s ongoing work to reimagine the possibilities of the Gardiner Expressway from end to end,” said Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway.

Bentway Toronto Gardiner Expressway map:
Bentway Toronto Gardiner Expressway map

“These creative interventions demonstrate how Toronto is leading an international movement to reinvest in civic infrastructure, creating new and exciting places for connectivity, art and even theatre.”

Inspired by the ongoing repairs to the Gardiner Expressway and the ubiquitous presence of equipment deployed to inspect and maintain the structure, Boom Town is a theatrical reimagining of the waterfront gateway at York Street, introducing a cast of playful characters that will animate the space with personality and delight.

View from above The Bentway during Winter 2019:
View from above The Bentway during Winter 2019
photo : Droneography

The design team proposed transforming a trio of boom lifts into “Bent Buddies” named Trekker, Tinker and Trouper — characters who breathe new life into the intersection and welcome people to the site.

“The competition’s parameters were very stringent, and understandably so for a temporary installation. For a while our ideas fought with these limitations, but in the end, they became a launching point for a simple solution that is memorable, playful and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Johanna Hurme of 5468796 Architecture.

Playing in The Bentway water feature, 2018:
Playing in The Bentway water feature Toronto
photo : Nic Lehoux

Pixel Story entices passersby with visual cues showcasing the attractions and experiences of the waterfront on both sides of the Gardiner, building anticipation for the lakefront that lies on the other side of the Simcoe Street intersection, and highlighting the diverse stories that relate to its experiences. “Imagine within the time you’re waiting for the traffic light to change, or you’re riding by in a bus, you could read about someone’s favourite place to walk or see an image of how this part of the shoreline looked over 100 years ago,” says Grace Yang of O2 Planning + Design. “The design strategies of Pixel Story bring the industrial scale of the Gardiner down to the level of human interaction.”

Skaters on The Bentway Skate Trail, 2018:
Skaters on The Bentway Skate Trail, 2018
photo : Denise Militzer

“Improving the aesthetics of the north-south connections under the Gardiner Expressway, across Lake Shore Blvd to the water is a key goal of the project,” says Tim Kocur, Executive Director of Waterfront BIA. “We want to develop new standards for safe, more accessible, visually pleasing underpass connections so residents of and visitors to Toronto can experience the best of the waterfront.”

To learn more about the winning designs and the competition visit

Two winning projects:

Boom Town:
Waterfront ReConnect design competition Toronto Boom Town

Boom Town Waterfront ReConnect design competition Toronto

Pixel Story:
Pixel Story Waterfront ReConnect design competition Toronto

Waterfront ReConnect design competition Toronto Pixel Story


This phase of Waterfront ReConnect is presented by The Bentway, the City of Toronto, the Waterfront BIA, and the Toronto Downtown West BIA, with special thanks to AutoDesk, DiamondCorp, Lifetime Developments, and The Bentway’s growing family of friends and supporters.

About The Bentway

The Bentway works to ignite the urban imagination, using the city as site, subject, and canvas. Anchored under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and guiding its complex future, The Bentway is a growing public space, and much more. The Bentway is a new type of civic organization: an independent charity and a not-for-profit, powered by vital partnerships with the City of Toronto, residents, supporters, artists, creatives, city-builders, and dreamers. The Bentway is a catalyst rooted in experimentation, demonstration, and regeneration; leading a creative movement to reimagine the opportunities of urban spaces.

Art Project at The Bentway, Toronto
Art Project at The Bentway, Toronto
photo : Nicola Betts

Since Phase 1 of The Bentway – under the Gardiner from Strachan Ave to Fort York Blvd – opened in 2018, it has proven to be a vital public space, backyard park, cultural platform, connector for the western Waterfront corridor and a demonstration of what is possible. In partnership with the City of Toronto, The Bentway is creating a network of public spaces, developing a cohesive vision for wayfinding and reconnecting the waterfront to the downtown core. The next link in this larger transformation is an Under-Gardiner Public Realm Plan, which extends a systemic approach to the planning and design of Under Gardiner spaces.

The Bentway cycling and pedestrian path, 2018:
The Bentway cycling and pedestrian path, 2018
photo : Nic Lehoux

Visit and follow on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for details about The Bentway’s programming and activities. #publicspace #urbanideas

The Bentway Artwork Phase 1 site during Nuit Blanche (2019), featuring Gareth Lichty’s Hoarding:
The Bentway Artwork Phase 1 site during Nuit Blanche
photo : Jack Landau, courtesy of The Bentway

About the City of Toronto

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses.

About Waterfront BIA

Representing businesses along the Queens Quay corridor, the Waterfront BIA (WBIA) is committed to supporting businesses, unifying the Waterfront, and engaging the community.

Activities of the WBIA include representing the area on key policy and advocacy issues, making targeted public realm improvements, and highlighting the area’s vibrancy with activations and daily promotion online.

About Toronto Downtown West BIA

Toronto Downtown West is the concentrate of arts, culture, hospitality, sports, and business to bring a
unique and vibrant urban experience (Toronto Entertainment District).

Since its establishment in 2008, the Toronto Entertainment District along with the area west from Spadina Ave. to Bathurst St. has experienced a significant transformation. A name change to Toronto Downtown West BIA provides the BIA with a more inclusive representation of the business members. The Toronto Downtown West BIA’s mandate is to promote, improve and preserve this dynamic area of Toronto. Benefitting from economic, environmental, and social factors driving downtown growth, the Downtown West has established itself as a thriving and vibrant district for living, creating, working, and entertainment.

Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners images / information received 080322

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America

Toronto Architecture

Toronto Architectural Designs – chronological list

Ontario Architecture News on e-architect

Toronto Architect – Ontario office listings on e-architect

Toronto Architecture Designs – architectural selection below:

Design: Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited with Wonder Inc.
Outside the Box Toronto Ontario
image courtesy of architects

Markham Centre Campus, Regional Municipality of York, Southern Ontario
Design: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Markham Centre Campus York Ontario
image : Diamond Schmitt Architects
Markham Centre Campus

York University Student Centre
Architects: CannonDesign
York University Student Centre Toronto Building
photograph © Connie Tsang
York University Student Centre

Therme Canada | Ontario Place, West Island
Design: Diamond Schmitt
Therme Canada Ontario Place Toronto Redevelopment
image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt
Therme Canada Ontario Place

Edition, 764 St. Clair West, Wychwood-Cedarvale neighbourhood, Midtown
Architecture: StudioAC
Edition’s Second Location Toronto
photograph : Double Space Photo
Edition’s Second Location

La Belle Maison Mansion
La Belle Maison Mansion Toronto
photo : Property Vision Media
La Belle Maison Mansion

Toronto Architecture

Comments / photos for the Waterfront ReConnect design competition winners page welcome