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design excellence

Toronto’s waterfront revitalization is raising the bar for excellence in design and setting new standards for architecture, design and public space.

Integrated design combines form and function to make our city better and more beautiful. To help achieve and uphold our standards for design excellence, we host international design competitions and work with some of the most respected planners, architects, designers and landscape architects in the world.

Often the best in the world are already based here in Toronto. When they are not, they partner with our outstanding local firms to help us create our new waterfront communities. By working with the world’s top design talent, we are establishing a new gold standard for waterfront revitalization.

To help guide our work and that of our design partners, we established the Waterfront Design Review Panel in 2005. The Panel is an independent body reviews all projects in the waterfront area and provides feedback and recommendations to our designers.

Achieving excellence is a key objective as we design public spaces and parks for our new waterfront neighbourhoods. . Signature details like the water’s edge promenade’s maple leaf granite mosaic, custom street lamps and benches, and parks like Canada’s Sugar Beach play an important role in creating an enhanced quality of place along our waterfront. Our parks and public realm set the tone for our new neighbourhoods and inspire our development partners to follow suite when designing their projects. 



consistency of design in public spaces


By creating a consistency in all the design elements along our waterfront public spaces, from benches and lamp posts to paving materials, we are ensuring that there is a visually and physically unified aesthetic.  Without thinking, Torontonians will know just by looking that their waterfront is a public space. The materials are being carefully selected, both for how they look and feel today, as well as how they improve with time, weather and age. Investments in high-quality, durable materials like granite ensure that our waterfront is built to last generations.


wavedecks: design excellence in action


Among the most celebrated projects on our new blue edge are the wavedecks in the central waterfront. Inspired by the shorelines of Ontario’s Great Lakes, the wooden wavedecks provide unique access to the water’s edge where previously none existed.

These urban docks are functional and beautiful. Backless benches act as elegant barriers to the water while also providing seating for users of the space. In the evening, each of the three wavedecks is lit from below with colourful LED fixtures. These colourful lights cast a glow from the lake creating a stunning effect on the deck and the water.

The wavedecks were designed and built with incredible attention to detail. For instance the thousands of screws used to hold the wavedecks together were lined up with exquisite precision enhancing the overall aesthetic.

The Spadina, Simcoe and Rees WaveDecks have garnered nine awards or nominations from the local, national and international design community since opening in late 2008 and early 2009. The Simcoe and Rees WaveDecks were honoured with 2010 Design Exchange Awards and the Spadina WaveDeck was the first Canadian project to be ever be shortlisted for a prestigious Brit Insurance Award.



tour the wavedecks

Join Toronto Star urban design writer Christopher Hume for a tour.


learn more

design review panel

public art

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