Made with Love: The Unique Features of Love Park

a bronze statue of a chipmunk sitting on a edge of a park's pond


In This Blog:

  • The construction fences are coming down and the park is officially opening on June 23, 2023
  • Get a behind the scenes look at how some of the unique features were custom made for Love Park. 
  • From lost-wax casting to hand sorting small glass tiles, every aspect of the park was made with love.
  • Learn about the new bronze cast public art features hidden throughout the park 

After eagerly anticipating the opening of Love Park, we are excited to announce the construction fences are coming down and the park is officially opening on June 23, 2023! This park is the newest addition to the 106 acres of new public green space that Waterfront Toronto has delivered along the waterfront.

The design for Love Park is the result of an international design competition Waterfront Toronto held in partnership with the City of Toronto in 2018. After receiving public input on the submissions, the winning design from landscape architects CCxA (formerly Claude Cormier et Associes) was unanimously selected by the competition jury to transform the former York Street Gardiner off-ramp.

In advance of the park opening (just in time for summer!), we are taking a behind the scenes look at some of the unique features you can find in the park.

More Public Art with New Animal Sculptures

Hidden throughout the park are nine bronze cast animals, similar to those found at another park designed by CCxA, Berczy Park. A new public art feature added to the park following the design competition, these native Canadian animal sculptures were generously supported by the Waterfront BIA to animate the new green refuge.

close-up showing three images of animal sculptures before bronze wax was poured

The animal sculptures were created by artists Tyler Balko and Marina Guglielmi from Maker Technical Sculpture Services Inc., whose specialty is in the lost wax casting of metal and glass.

To create the animal sculptures, each piece needed to go through a multi-step process before being permanently installed in the park. First, a custom model of each of the nine animals was created. These models paid special attention to detail ensuring that the feathers and fur looked life-like for the final product. The artists used photo references of real animals for each model. For example, the inspiration for the polar bear cub was ‘Juno’ - a polar bear born at the Toronto Zoo in 2015.

Once the models were perfected, silicone and fiberglass moulds were made for each animal. From the silicone moulds, the artists then cast a wax replica of the original sculptures. Another mould is then made over the wax replicas, this time made of ceramic shell, which can withstand the high temperature of the molten bronze. Next, the wax is melted out of the ceramic shell moulds, leaving cavities in the shape of the original sculptures for molten bronze to be poured into.

large bronze statues of animals

Finally, the bronze castings were removed from the ceramic moulds, and then finished with welding and sandblasting to prepare the sculptures for the finishing patina – or colour. To create the patina, the bronze was heated and exposed to different natural chemicals to cause the copper component in bronze to react and create colour. Once the desired color was achieved, each sculpture was sealed for protection.

An Urban Love Seat

close up of a park's pond with a red tile border

A 160 meter long urban “love seat’, the edge around the pond is finished with an anti-slip glass tile mosaic in varying shades of red. Designed for comfort and longevity, the mosaic love seat will provide ample opportunity for visitors to sit along the water’s edge.

Mosaika, a Montreal-based design and manufacturing company, fabricated the crimson pond edge with their fresh take on the ancient art of mosaic making. They place an emphasis on ‘art & design’ combining a modern aesthetic with exquisite craftsmanship and approach mosaics as unique works of art, paying attention to the smallest of details.

side-by-side photos showing a woman laying out red mosaic tiles and a close up of the tile pattern

Hundreds of thousands of small red Mexican smalti glass tiles were hand selected to help create the new heart of our waterfront. Once the right balance of varying shades of red tiles was found, the small tiles were hand laid into segments in the studio in Montreal before they were transported and installed on site.

To ensure the longevity and durability of the tile mosaic, a test piece of the mosaic was placed outside of the construction site to see how the unique feature would perform under different weather conditions across the seasons and over a longer period of time. Over the two-year period, the test piece performed very well as the mosaic was crafted using best practices to ensure its durability across the seasons in what will surely be a busy public space.

An Ever-Growing Flowering Feature

At the south-eastern edge of the park sits a trellised pavilion that anchors activity in the park. The delicate undulating design of the steel structure designed by gh3* will eventually be covered by purple wisteria, providing dappled shade to activity below, alongside the 38 new trees and 4 mature trees in the park.

showing installation of a park pavilion feature

Fabricated by Eventscape, the trellised pavilion needed to be installed on-site in separate pieces thanks to its intricate design.

The merging of pathways defines the footprint for the Love Park pavilion. Arched sides converge to three infinite corners, stretching perspectives and creating an illusion of impossible lightness. The delicate lace-like detailing of the arches will become more prominent over time as the wisteria vines take over the 5m high structure. To ensure the health of the wisteria, the foundation of the trellis structure integrates a soil cell system to promote growth of large vines.

These are just a few of the unique features that punctuate Toronto’s newest waterfront park. Come see them for yourself at the official Love Park opening celebration on June 23, 2023!