Toronto Central Waterfront

Toronto, CA

The Central Waterfront extends 3.5 km along Lake Ontario and in direct proximity to the downtown business district. It is one of Toronto’s most valuable assets, yet, despite decades of planning and patchwork development projects, there was no coherent vision for linking the pieces into a greater whole – visually or physically.  In this context, the fundamental objective of the project, which received it main impetus as a international design competition, was to address this deficiency by creating a consistent and legible image for the Central Waterfront, in both architectural and functional terms.

Connectivity between the vitality of the city and the lake and a continuous, publicly accessible waterfront are West 8’s Masterplan priorities.  The plan expresses a vision for the Central Waterfront that brings a sustainable, ecologically productive ‘green foot’ to the rich culture of the metropolis. It suggests a new coherence and continuity along the waterfront, produced by four seemingly simple gestures that create a new ‘Multiple Waterfront’.

The Primary Waterfront – a continuous water’s edge promenade, with a series of pedestrian bridges;  the Secondary Waterfront – a recalibrated Queens Quay Boulevard with a new urban promenade and public spaces at the heads-of-slips; the Floating Waterfront – a series of floating elements that offer new boat moorings and public spaces in relation to the lake, and; the Cultures of the City – connections from Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods towards the waterfront.

Having been awarded the commission in 2006, further elaboration of this vision seeks to develop these elements, as well as the activities that can and should be sustained in the public realm. The proposal creates a waterfront that is public, diverse and expressed through a multiplicity of experiences. The first phase of realization is now underway and includes the design and construction of Queen’s Quay Boulevard and the design of public space wave decks, timber bridges, and seven slip heads.

See also the first three WaveDecks Spadina, Simcoe and Rees Wavedecks completed in 2011, Queens Quay Boulevard completed in 2015, the East Bayfront Water’s Edge Promenade & Boardwalk completed in 2010 and the installation Quay to the City in 2006.

Client: Waterfront Toronto

Team: West 8 + DTAH in association with Halsall Associates, Arup, Schollen & Company, Diamond + Schmitt Architects, David Dennis Design

Construction update on the rebuild and revitalization of Queens Quay both above and below ground.


Waterfront Toronto


In joint venture with DTAH | Consultants: Arup, Halsall Associates, Schollen & Company, Mulvey + Banani, David Dennis Design


CSLA National Merit Award for East Bayfront Water's Edge Promenade (2014), ASLA Honor Award (2009), CSLA National Merit Award (2009), Award of Excellence at the Toronto Urban Design Awards (2009), Award of Excellence Ontario Builders Awards (2009), Brit Insurance Design Award Nominee (2009)