Fort York Visitor Centre renderings

If you didn’t get the chance to go to City Hall to look at the proposals of the Fort York Visitor Centre, we’ve compiled the non-technical renderings of the four submissions into four slideshows.

While we know which teams were short-listed, the City has decided not to attach the firms to specific submissions in order to receive non-biased comments and feedback. You can download the PDFs of each submission from the City’s Fort York Visitor Centre web page.

Take alook through the slideshows and give us your feedback. Or feel free to look at the images individually on our Flickr site.

Submission A

Submission B

Submission C

Submission D


  1. Quite a bit of artistic license all round with rendering of Gardiner.

  2. Seems like C does the best job of fitting in with the Gardiner. I appreciate that A tries to look like a Fort, but it also looks uninviting. The platform for D is an interesting idea, except I have a feeling it might be pretty loud up there.

    It would be interesting to see out on a grander scale how each connect to walking and bike paths, the new bike bridge and TTC.

  3. As a skateboarder I prefer the roof lines of D

  4. In order…

    A) Even if we forgive the incredibly pretentious presentation, we can’t forgive the unfriendly facade which feels like a wall between the public and the site. Also, the lack of a green roof and more cohesive integration with the large commons is a turn-off.

    B) This building has the shape I like best, but I fear the wooden exterior will not age well. I’m a huge fan of the landscaping in this submission, which features more trees than any of the others. I also like how the line of the building relates to the Gardiner.

    C) The large protrusion on top of this offering comes off as forced. It plays to the lake and although it has a vertical affiliation with the Fort grounds, its position horizontally is out of place. It’s a shame about the building, because this groups approach to the site is lovely. The grave markers, walking trails and tall grass prairie are all welcome additions.

    D) First off, we’ll pretend that this offering doesn’t include giant tacky red letters out front reading “FORT YORK VISITOR CENTRE” and isn’t so yawningly nammed “storiedGROUND” and focus on the good way it integrates with the Gardiner and it’s beautifully sloping, wave-like elevation. I love the line in relation to the Gardiner and to the Fort. However, where this submission completely falls apart is the landscaping, or lack thereof.

    Finally, I give an extra point to A and D for including, even briefly, a view of the structure in winter. It’s a pretty glaring error to forget that Toronto spends a good deal of the year not looking so lovely and green.

    So who’s the winner…

    For the depth of it’s landscaping and the more natural feel of it’s building…it’s B.

  5. These designs all seem to overwhelm the Fort, and become the attraction itself. Maybe that’s a good thing?

  6. I didn’t find the architecture of B fit in enough with its surroundings, but the green roofs look great.

    I thought C looked at bit too “condo visitor centre” at first glance but I like how it plays in the negative space under the expressway more than all the others.

    I wonder how much the architects considered noise from the expressway. A green roof would not be as fun with if the traffic is too loud, and trees have limitations for the amount of noise they can buffer.

  7. Michael, I tend to romanticize these things, but when you’re next to the Gardiner and it’s running along as it does, it sounds like the ocean surf. Close your eyes and try it.

  8. 1st choice = C
    2nd choice = B
    3rd choice = A
    4th choice = D

  9. This maybe off-topic, but this is my biggest impression after took a quick look at all presentations: Gardiner really is not the barrier between the city and the lake. If anything, it can be the celling of some unique and attractive public space. It is the stuff we put under Gardiner (i.e., Lakeshore Blvd.) that is the problem. (of course, ramps on/off Gardiner are part of the problem but they are not continuous, and the railway is probably a bigger barrier, but we probably cannot and do not want to do much to that anyway).

  10. It’s really exciting to have such a beautiful structure built – too bad it’s not so exciting to give Fort York to fix/update their old displays.

    I just visited a few weeks ago, and their most advanced technology is a string of led lights indicating the direction of the St. Lawrence river. A quarter of their display signs are ripped or falling down. They’re obviously just barely scraping by financially, so excuse me if I’m not convinced that more infrastructure to maintain is going to help.

    But the optics sure look great!

  11. A looks kind of like a subway train stopped in a subway station beside the Gardiner. Which is where we should be spending our money, not on useless pork like this!

  12. Yu, I tend to agree. We should really start thinking of the Gardiner as a giant OCAD table top and start animating the space better.

    I tend to prefer C best as I think it connects the city to the Fort best, while animating underneath the Gardiner.

  13. Andrew, cultural infrastructure is just as important as transport infrastructure when it comes to the success of any city.

  14. Things happened 200 years ago that have a huge influence on our city and our country today. Subways are important, but so is knowing who and why we are.

  15. One has to wonder about investing a lot of money in a building underneath the Gardiner. What happens to that building when the expressway has to be rebuilt? And, sooner or later, it will have to be.

  16. B! Wood, stone and green – beautiful. And you can walk right up on the green roof! I don’t like how the others interact too much with the Gardiner (and I echo Laurie’s concerns on this as well). This also looks like the most environmentally-friendly building.

  17. Make-up on a bad pimple. The problem is and always will be the Gardiner itself. It’s dirty, not attractive and creates a real gap between the lake and the people. Elevated highways in the heart of a city is a problem.

    Oh… and let’s not forget the repulsive “wall” of “soul-less” condo towers that are growing along the lakeshore. THAT’s gonna keep pedestrians and visitors away for sure.

    Sorry for being so negative – proposals looks pretty and all, but they are not part of a real solution in my mind for Forth York.

  18. All the people living in the new condo’s by the Fort might object to being called “soul-less” Eric. There are going to be over 20,000 living there soon. Are they all worthless unless they live in what, a single family home in the annex? Are duplexes ok? Walkups? When do people loose their souls, Eric? When do they become “repulsive” to you?

  19. I knew I was going to have comment from you. 🙂

    We obviously don’t see urban planning the same way.
    And I respect our opinion as I respect mine. I also respect people living in condos towers (the towers are soul-less to my eye, not the people).

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