Masterplan – A transit oriented community within a green framework
The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is a proposed 60 hectare (150 acre) development that will redefine Vaughan’s city centre. Connected to the Greater Toronto Area through the TTC subway extension and an expanded regional transportation network, the Vaughan Metro Centre proposes a wide range of spaces and amenities for residents and businesses, such as office towers, mixed-use residential buildings, pedestrian shopping, restaurants and green spaces, all within a walkable and bicycle-friendly public realm.
The wide variety of green spaces, diversified in both scale and functions, composes a green framework that weaves the various phases of the development in a coherent ensemble. The green spaces are designed as purposeful amenities that cement the fabric of the public realm, support the cultural and recreational program and create opportunities for the integration of both art and nature in an urban setting. Cutting edge practices in sustainable development are deployed to achieve the highest possible efficiency standards for stormwater re-use, greening, reduction in heat island effect, and active transportation.
Working on the solid foundation laid by the VMC Streetscape and Open Space Plan, the Park and Open Space Network envisioned in the Masterplan establishes a structured hierarchy of green space typologies meant to provide easy access to outdoor amenities and destinations while connecting the proposed development to the existing open spaces surrounding the development. The major urban park and the contiguous plaza occupying the central axis of the development create a primary link to adjacent natural spaces like black creek while smaller and more intimate neighborhood parks scattered across the area offer activities and leisure close to the residents. In addition, a series of mews offer mid-block pedestrian connections allowing the 25 thousand new residents to travel back and forth in a car-free, landscaped urban network.
VMC Central Park – A modern picturesque park
Acting as a backbone for the new development, the Central Park emulates and updates the tradition of the great scenic parks of the City Beautiful movement. Envisioned as a public amenity to be shared and enjoyed on a daily basis, the parks is meant to act as a catalyst for the establishment of the new community, offering beauty, leisure and entertainment while acting as a key structuring piece of the urban layout.
Divided in three adjacent blocks, the parks plan is conceived to clearly anchor and prolong the street / block layout and to support a coherent and hierarchized mobility network, allowing the harmonious cohabitation of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The civic plaza adjacent to the new TTC terminal at the East end of the axis serves as a natural anchor for the park as a prime mobility infrastructure of the 60 hectare Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Wide sidewalks separated from the roadway by a planted boulevard on every edge of the 3 distinct blocks create a safe and comfortable pedestrian fringe to the park. The dedicated bike lanes on the north edge of the park along Applemill Road as well as along the major North/South streets (Millway Ave, Edgeley Blvd and Applewood Rd) bolster the growing popularity of active transportation.
The distinctive design of the park, inspired by the work of British artist Bridget Riley, uses a filigree intersecting of curves to create a strong and functional language that unifies the adjacent blocks of the Park. The circulation pattern of the Park, achieved through this unique succession of curves, creates a series of passages alternating between wooded areas, flowering Bosque and clearings. This feature, echoing the finesse of the art of storytelling that was found in the work of masters like Frederick Law Olmsted and Frederick Todd, plays on the inherent qualities of the spaces that the walker traverses and the transitions that happen as different landscapes unfold.
The use of specific topographical features in each of the park’s blocks further distinguishes the character of each portion while also supporting different programmatic elements. The East block of the park, with its hills and valley, is the threshold to the park system. Its central open area can accommodate gathering for up to 3500 people such as outdoor movie projections, and its perennial garden, marble water basin and oversized swing create interest for kids and adults. The Central block of the park, with a grand sunken lawn at its center, can accommodate large gatherings or be used as a field sport infrastructure. A park pavilion with a roof terrace provides services at the heart of the space and a water play area, dog run and picnic area makes the space a most complete recreational pole for families. In the West block of the Park, an open glade with a large fountain and an oversized curved pergola sits on a raised plateau at the center of the space, creating a contemplative setting for lazy afternoons. Children’s play areas bring animation to the space east of the plateau while the western threshold of the park is occupied by a raised chestnut tree grove.
The highly diversified planting plan is meant to emphasize this sense of alternating tableaus, using grouping of trees of the same species to create volumes of singular character. With each grouping expressing the specificity of a particular type of tree, the meandering progression through the park’s curved path system is a constant succession of colors and ambiances.
Being conceived as a cultural amenity in its own right, gathering spaces of various scales and adapted infrastructure makes Central Park a choice destination for social happenings. The Park also has great potential for the implementation of an art walk, taking advantage of the numerous intersecting paths that generate abundant opportunities for the introduction of art pieces disseminated on the central axis of the linear space.
Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., BA Group
Vaughan Metropolitain Centre - 600 000 m2 (150 acres) / Central Park - 43 100 m2 (10.7 acres)
Plaza / Garden