Underpass Park

Fact Sheet

Project Type: Urban Park developed in Toronto as part of a Waterfront Toronto initiative to transform pockets of neglected urban spaces on the waterfront into valued public amenities.

Construction Team: UCC Group: Pat Diapolo (president), Sam Ruffolo (Construction manager), Tony Rodrigues (Operations Manager), Jim Collins (Project Manager), Glenn McGhee (Site Superintendent).

Concrete Volume: 1,953 m3

Design Elements: Reinforced slab on grade, seat walls, concrete benches, skate park, architectural and functional elements constructed under three overpasses (Eastern, Richmond and Adelaide).

Project Dates: Phase 1 between St. Lawrence St and Bayview Ave began April 2011 and was completed in October 2011. Phase two of the park, on the west side of St. Lawrence Street, has been under construction since March 2012 and will be completed in November 2012.

Project Description

Underpass Park is a unique project and the first of its kind in Toronto. The sustainable project transformed derelict and unused space beneath a series of overpasses into a unique community park.

The bright new urban park gives residents of the West Don Lands and adjacent communities safe and beautiful ways to connect between the north and south sections of the neighborhood.

A large playground is located in the middle section of the park with a teeter-totter, hopscotch, 4-square, swings and playful climbing structures. The area also includes a series of concrete park benches and flexible community space that can be used for markets, festivals and seasonal public events.

The eastern-most section of the park includes two basketball half-courts and an extensive skatepark featuring a series of obstacles, rails and ledges. There is also a flexible open space that can be used for community events.

Public art played a critical role in Underpass Park with “Mirage” by Paul Raff Studios which uses reflectivity to draw people into and through the space. Mirage is a playful use of reflective mirrors affixed to the underside of the overpass that bounces light around the space in an interesting and sculptural way. Puck lighting in greens, purple and blue colors reflect off horizontal and vertical concrete features to highlight the material.

The designers of the project are landscape architects Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg with The Planning Partnership. Underpass Park is part of the Waterfront Toronto vision in an ongoing effort to transform pockets of neglected urban spaces on the waterfront into valued public amenities.

The park, located under the Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide overpasses, is being constructed in two phases. Construction began on the first section of the park, between St. Lawrence Street and Bayview Avenue, in April 2011 and was completed in October 2011. The second phase of the park, on the west side of St. Lawrence Street, has been under construction since March 2012 and expected to open in spring 2013.

The original land space was neglected and unwelcoming with contaminated soil conditions. The contractor, UCC Group had to remove contaminated soil and have it treated and bring in clean soil to replace it. Concrete was chosen as the material of choice for this park because of its sustainability. Ninety percent of this park has been constructed from concrete including a large reinforced slab, seat walls and numerous functional and architectural features. The design itself also takes full advantage of the concrete beams and columns of the overpasses by projecting colorful lights onto them to make the space more bright and inviting.

Sustainability is the attribute to highlight for this project. Waterfront Toronto together with Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg and The Planning Partnership had a vision to transform a contaminated, unwelcoming, unused space into sustainable, unique and inviting community park for the West Don Lands neighborhood. UCC group did a beautiful job using concrete to create a space families can enjoy for decades.

(reference: http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/explore_projects2/west_don_lands/underpass_park)