SLA and Arcadis unveil David Crombie Park redesign

Following an extensive public consultation, the newly revealed design for the historic David Crombie Park in downtown Toronto will preserve the iconic park’s historical character, uniting nature, people, and community.

The project is the largest open space project in downtown City of Toronto in over a decade. For 40 years, David Crombie Park has been a much-loved community park in downtown Toronto and a significant landmark for the city’s historic St. Lawrence Market neighborhood.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

However, with the park showing its age and in dire need of an upgrade, the City of Toronto selected a pair of internationally renowned landscape architecture and urban design firms to create a new vision for the revitalization of David Crombie Park.

In an exciting collaboration, the esteemed Copenhagen-based landscape architecture and design firm SLA, and Arcadis, a leading global design and consultancy firm with a legacy of major planning and architectural projects across Canada, joined forces on the vital redesign of David Crombie Park.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

Building on extensive public consultation completed during the planning stage of the project, SLA and Arcadis responded with a sensitive design that integrates Indigenous placekeeping and enhances the historic and culturally significant green space in the heart of Old Toronto.

The linear David Crombie Park spans nearly two hectares across seven blocks, making the revitalization one of the largest open space projects in the downtown City of Toronto over the last decade.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

Preserve, revitalize, and unite
Recognizing the importance of preserving the park’s heritage while meeting the evolving needs of the community, the City of Toronto sought a visionary approach to its redesign.

SLA’s and Arcadis’ design preserves the park’s historical character by maintaining as much of the existing structures and materials—such as retaining concrete walls, healthy trees, and sports courts—as possible.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

A core component of the intent to revitalize the park was the decision to minimize the park’s embodied carbon by retaining existing elements that created a sense of place and community.

This approach was met with the addition of new elements—such as wooden seats, benches and platforms—to the existing structures and by adding natural planting and landscape zones that will create a series of new, biodiverse habitats for humans and local plants and animals alike.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

Finally, SLA’s and Arcadis’ design unites the community by strengthening the park’s main promenade, supporting active mobility, introducing a new adventurous route through the park’s many new social programs, and connecting the park to the wider neighborhood.

The park’s design also integrates Indigenous placemaking elements with designs by Indigenous-owned Taw Architects, including a safe, designated space for Indigenous community members to have a sacred fire, Seven Sacred Teachings boulders in the children’s playground, and opportunities to learn the Anishinaabe language.

Image © SLA and Arcadis

Significant social infrastructure
The project will not only upgrade the park but also add new cycling infrastructure and streetscape elements to better connect The Esplanade with Mill Street and, thus, support surrounding social infrastructure and entertainment areas, including the Distillery District and St. Lawrence Market.

SLA’s and Arcadis’ detailed design for David Crombie Park has been approved by the City of Toronto. Construction for the park and cycle track is slated to begin in Spring 2025 and be completed in 2026. Source by David Crombie Park and images Courtesy of SLA Corporate Communications.

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