Decorated with numerous awards including a recent 2012 ASLA Landmark Award of Excellence, Yorkville Village Park is a popular and celebrated series of gardens tucked into Toronto’s high-end shopping district. Originally a parking lot built over a subway, a design team composed of Martha Schwartz, Ken Smith, David Meyer Landscape Architects, and local firm Oleson Worland Architects sculpted a linear park that would represent a selection of Ontario’s major bioregions and ecosystems, with each landscape bounded by the lot lines of former Victorian row houses situated in the space.
The desire for a public park to be built over the underground Bloor subway line was voiced since the 1950s, however, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the city held a design competition for the park. After talking to locals, it seems like everyone knows about this park–it sees a constant flow of people walking through, taking pause, bringing kids, or just sitting to people watch. Toronto is home to many fantastic parks, but Yorkville Village Park ranks very high among my favorites.
Divided into 11 sections of varying widths, each garden section represents a different Canadian landscape composed of a distinct collection of plant communities ranging from upland pine forests to the Ontario marshlands. One of the biggest highlights of the site is the 650-tonne, approximately 1 billion year old granite rock taken from the Canadian Shield, a vast geological area in eastern and central Canada made up of exposed rock dating back to the Precambrian era.
I took a walk through the linear collection of landscapes from the east end’s Scot’s Pine grove to the west end’s Amelanchier Grove. I was impressed by how, in such a small amount of space, the designers were able to layer such a rich combination of textures, colors, and light play; each landscape imparts a different feel through these factors as well as spatial organization.
The eleven landscapes include, from east to west: Pine Groves, Prairie Wildflower Gardens, Birch Groves, Fragrant Herb Rock Garden, Crabapple Orchard, Festival Walk, Ontario Marsh, Alder Grove, The Canadian Shield Clearance and Fountain, Herbaceous Border Garden, and the Amelanchier Grove.
About the Journey:
Hi! My name is Lucy Wang and I’m a recent landscape architecture grad from the University of Maryland. I’m currently traveling the U.S. (and parts of Canada) by public transportation for the next several months in search of great, publicly-accessible landscape architecture sites, as well as landscape architecture firms and universities. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite finds on Land8 along the way. For more information, check out my profile. As always, feel free to leave a comment below!
Where I’ve been:Published in