Sugar Beach is a whimsical park that transformed a surface parking lot in a former industrial area into Toronto’s second urban beach at the water’s edge. Located at the foot of Lower Jarvis Street adjacent to the Redpath Sugar Factory, the 8500 square metre park is the first public space visitors see as they travel along Queens Quay from the central waterfront. The park’s brightly coloured pink beach umbrellas and iconic candy-striped bedrock welcome visitors to the new waterfront neighbourhood of East Bayfront.
The design for Sugar Beach draws upon the industrial heritage of the area and its relationship to the neighbouring Redpath Sugar factory. The park features three distinct components – an urban beach, a plaza space, and a tree-lined promenade running diagonally through the park. The Sugar factory creates a surreal industrial backdrop, where gantry cranes offload mountains of sandy raw sugar from giant tankers moored in the slip. With the fragrance of sugar in the air, the park’s conceptual reference is experienced in both sight and smell. Sugar as concept was used to establish a language for many of the elements throughout the park, from the red and white bedrock candy stripes on the park’s two outcroppings, the soft confection-like pink of the umbrellas, and even the candy cane pattern on the stainless steel ventilation pipes to the fountain mechanical vault concealed under the promenade.
Sugar Beach reminds us that Toronto’s waterfront is a playful destination. The beach allows visitors to while away the afternoon as they read, play in the sand or watch boats on the lake. A dynamic water feature embedded into a granite maple leaf beside the beach makes cooling off fun for adults and children. This interactive fountain transitions into a spectacle of illuminated choreography at night.
The park’s plaza offers a dynamic space for public events. One of the park’s granite rock outcropping and three grass mounds give the public an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts on the stage of the adjacent entertainment studio , as well as unique vantage points in the spaces between the mounds for smaller events. Between the plaza and the beach, people stroll through the park along a promenade that features granite cobblestones in a maple leaf mosaic pattern. Lined with maple trees, the promenade offers a shaded route to the water’s edge providing the public with many opportunities along the way to sit and enjoy views to the lake, beach or plaza.
Situated under the promenade is a generous system of silva cells that provide over 30m3 of soil for each tree. This, along with the large soil volumes in the berms and under the sand, will ensure that the maples, weeping willows, and white pines at Sugar Beach will be able to grow to their full potential. Since opening, the public response to Sugar Beach has been overwhelming positive, as attested to by the large numbers of park visitors, feedback in the media, comments in public web blogs, and images on flickr.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Architects: Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes Inc.
Project name: Sugar Beach Landscape designer: CLAUDE CORMIER + ASSOCIÉS INC. Client: Waterfront Toronto Date of project: Competition Fall 2007
Construction: from September 2009, completion June 2010
Opening: summer 2010 Budget: 14.3 million $ Surface area: 8500 m2 Main materials: Fiberglass Umbrellas, Granite bedrock with thermoplastic stripes AWARD Toronto Urban Design Awards 2011 Award of Excellence – Large Places and Neighbourhood Designs – Canada’s Sugar Beach – Toronto, Ontario Canadian Society of Landscape Architects 2011 Regional Honours – Canada’s Sugar Beach- Toronto, Ontario