Design Ideas

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

View design ideas for the Gardiner East from international design teams.

In 2010, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto launched a Design Ideas initiative for the Gardiner East (Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Blvd approximately between Jarvis St and Leslie St).  A competitive process was held to select six internationally renowned engineering and design teams to develop visions for the Gardiner East. 

The Design Ideas were developed to:

  • Visualize options to engage the public in a discussion of what to do with the Gardiner East
  • Develop ideas to inform the development of Alternative Solutions through the Environmental Assessment process

The design teams were given a detailed briefing which included information on existing conditions and concurrent studies before they began work.  Half way through their assignment, design teams presented their work to technical and stakeholder committees for feedback.  

Two design teams were assigned to three of following four options to be studied in the Environmental Assessment known as Alternative Solutions:

  • Maintain the elevated expressway
  • Improve the urban fabric while maintaining the existing expressway
  • Replace with a new above or below grade expressway
  • Remove the elevated expressway and build a new boulevard

A team was not assigned to the “Maintain” option.  Maintain, also known as “Do Nothing”, is the baseline case which includes the rehabilitation of the expressway structure as per City of Toronto’s F.G. Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Project and approved plans for the surrounding area.

The Design Ideas, along with public idea, your ideas, and technical designs will inform the generation of Alternative Solutions by the Environmental Assessment project team.

As part of the EA process, the Alternative Solutions will be evaluated utilizing ‘Study Lenses’ which will contain detailed evaluation criteria:

  • Urban Design
  • Economics
  • Transportation & Infrastructure
  • Environment

The results of the EA evaluation will determine which Alternative Solution is carried forward in the Environmental Assessment.

For more information about each of the team submissions, please see below. 


Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg + Bjarke Ingels Group

(also with: Greenberg Consultants Inc, PFS Studio, Daoust Lestage, Transsolar, Arup and AECOM)

No change to the Gardiner, creation of a park that flows into underused spaces and up over new buildings, podium buildings create a new park above the Gardiner.

link to Booklet

link to Boards

Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Architects Alliance

(also with: Hood Design, BA Consulting Group Ltd.)

Move Lake Shore out from beneath the expressway; inhabit the space below the expressway, “green” the elevated structure to make a “parkway; and, establish better north-south connections.

link to Booklet

link to Boards


West 8 + DTAH / Cecil Balmond AGU

(also with: Arup, Halsall Associates, BA Group, A.W. Hooker Associates)

Build a new elevated expressway between existing Gardiner and the rail corridor, rebuild Lake Shore south of existing expressway, demolish existing expressway to create a twosided street.

link to Booklet

link to Boards

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

(also with: Halcrow-Yolles, Hoerr-Schaudt Landscape Architects, IBM, CB Richard Ellis)

Put the expressway function in a tunnel below-grade, create a new Lake Shore Boulevard with a dedicated transit line, increase development potential of underutilized public land.

link to Booklet

link to Boards


Rem Koolhass/Office for Metropolitan Architecture

(also with: Arup, Claude Cormier Landscape Architects, 2x4, Inc.)

Create a major new intermodal hub east of the Don River, supports a new employment district, introduce a Downtown Relief Line subway and an at-grade Lake Shore Boulevard.

link to Booklet

link to Boards

James Corner Field Operations

(also with: Arup, Schollen & Company Inc., North-South Environmental)

Replace the Gardiner Expressway East with a broad landscaped Lake Shore, humanizes north-south pedestrian connections with architectural treatments, transforms rail embankment into sculpted garden.

link to Booklet

link to Boards

Public Ideas

Members of the public have also generated various design ideas in recent years; these are also being shared as part of the public process.