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. Underneath a freeway and surrounded by ongoing construction, hopefully this park will become more visible and accessible as time goes on and word gets round–after all, this innovative park only just 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 seeks to transform those shabby, forgotten spaces into funky and modern public spaces.
Headed by the design efforts of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg and The Planning Partnership, the newly minted urban neighborhood amenity includes a skateboarding facility, basketball hoops, a children’s play area, and a large public art piece featuring suspended mirrors.
During my time in the park, I talked a couple parents who had brought their kids to Underpass. All of them, except for one who lived in the neighborhood, agreed that the park was difficult to locate. Interestingly, however, they also all found out about the new park through different methods, 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 appears to be 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. Needless to say, the modern children’s park is the more impressive of the two, particularly since it shares its space with ‘Mirage,’ a giant, suspended public art piece reflecting light and movement.
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 park’s relatively new opening. 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 playspace.