Baby Point Gardens

Submitted by Matthew Sweig

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Client: Baby Point Business Improvement Area, City of Toronto BIA Office

Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $255,065

Project Team

Landscape Architect

Forest and Field Landscape Architecture Inc.

Client

Baby Point Business Improvement Area

Client

City of Toronto, BIA (Business Improvement Area) Office

Other

Pine Valley Corporation Inc.

Other

DPM Energy Inc.  

Other

IRC Building Sciences Group

Overview

The Baby Point Business Improvement Area (BIA) transformed a 1540 square feet abandoned lot into a vibrant new accessible urban space. Durable materials, feature lighting, ample seating, and dense perennial planting beds with trees are integral to the design. The space brings the community together, celebrates the area’s unique history, and welcomes visitors to this vibrant area supported by local businesses.

Goals

The project's first task was to prevent further vandalism, illegal parking, and dumping in one of the BIA’s few public spaces. The broad goals for artwork were to strengthen the area's identity by developing an aesthetic and material selection that would define the BIA area. Baby Point Gardens’; feature element is a series of laser-cut weathering-steel panels with a pattern inspired by the veins of black oak leaves that once thrived on this sandy site. Steel panels feature the name of the BIA at Jane Street and are washed with light in the evening. Flowing like the nearby Humber River through the space, the sidewalk is lined with both continuous benches and individual backed benches glowing at night. Soil cells support trees from below, while crushed stone trenches capture 100% of the site storm water, distributing it to the trees and plants. The space has become an event space, gateway marker for the BIA, and a place for daily repose. Abundant seating provides a place for the community and visitors to relax and the watch the activity of the street. The elements of the parkette have articulated the area’s vernacular and will be used throughout the BIA for future initiatives.

Process

The BIA’s stakeholder group was involved in conceptualizing the parkette itself and specifically the development of the aesthetic and expression of the weathering steel screens. The group was a passionate, uncompromising team with great vision, who saw potential in a derelict space and saw it through until completion. Determined to bring life and distinction to an empty lot, the group made the most of the project through their fundraising efforts and vision. The result is a public space that they are very proud of, that catches the eye of passers-by while maintaining a sophisticated presence that expresses the culture of the neighborhood. Throughout the process, the owner of the adjacent property was vocal about the project not impacting his property. The project is respectful of his interests and even features a custom window opening in the west-most screen panel to accommodate his last-minute request.