Underpass Park

Designers: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, The Planning Partnership | City: Toronto, ON | Project Type: reclamation, highways, revitalization
Date Visited: 08.30.12
Location: Under and around the Eastern Avenue and Richmond/Adelaide overpasses, between Cherry Street and Bayview Avenue
Size: 1.05 ha (2.5 acres)
Cost: 5.3 million CDN
Official Opening Date: August 2, 2012

Underpass Park is pretty awesome, but is terribly difficult to find unless you know the area. Tucked beneath a freeway and surrounded by ongoing construction, hopefully this park will become more visible and accessible as time goes on and word gets round. There’s hope yet–this innovative park only opened earlier this month.

Highways are notorious for severing neighborhoods and creating ugly, seedy underpass spaces. Underpass Park, however, is a shining example of urban design that successfully transforms forgotten areas into funky and modern public spaces.

Designed by Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg and The Planning Partnership, this newly minted urban neighborhood park boasts a skateboard park, basketball court, playground, and large public art sculptures created with suspended mirrors.

I talked with a few parents who brought their kids to Underpass Park and all of them, save for one who lived in the neighborhood, agreed that the park was difficult to find. Interestingly, each parent learned of the new park through different means, from coverage in a local newspaper to an email blast from a parenting newsletter (I found out about it through a news bulletin on the Toronto Parks’ website).

Underpass Park is split–literally by the road that bisects it–into two parts: the younger, more colorful children’s playground and the older kids/adult skatepark and basketball courts. The modern children’s park with its multicolored play equipment is the more impressive of the two halves.

The parents I spoke to also mentioned that they seldom see other families around when they bring their kids, which again, might be due to the fact that the park only opened recently. But I have high hopes for this colorful, dynamic playground, particularly given its unique placement beneath a freeway; I have a feeling the park will soon be a very popular neighborhood play space.

Before/After Rendering | Credit: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
Before/After Rendering | Credit: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
Before/After Rendering | Credit: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
Before/After Rendering | Credit: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

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