Village of Yorkville Park, Toronto, Canada

Location: Toronto, Canada
Client: City of Toronto, Department of Parks and Recreation
Architects: Oleson Worland Architects
Size: 48,150 square feet
Status: Completed 1995
Awards: ASLA President’s Award 1994, ASLA President’s Award of Excellence 1996, City of Toronto Urban Design Award 1997, ASLA Landmark Award 2012

The landscape design for Yorkville Park is an interpretation of the 19th Century practice of bringing specimens of the native landscape into the city as typified by the tradition of the Victorian “box collections” of insects, fossils, bones, etc. Using this theme, the design reflects, reinforces, and extends the Victorian scale and character of the original Village of Yorkville.

In this “box collection,” the park is divided into a series of zones, varying in width and filled with a collection of plant communities ranging from upland communities at the east end, through lowland/ wetland communities, to shade gardens at the west end. Major plant types and communities include: pine grove, Ontario wild flowers and grasses, an aspen grove, rock\herb garden, crab apple grove, marsh, Willow “batt,” mixed herbaceous border, and fern garden. Native plant material is selected to provide longevity, variety through the changing seasons, and food and habitat for song birds.

A large “clearing,” a pedestrian plaza, offset from the center of the park, provides a counterpoint to the general order of the park. This paved area is designed to accommodate the heavy pedestrian traffic in the area of the site’s subway entrance. Major features of the “clearing” are a new glass enclosed subway entrance, a large sculptural rock outcropping recalling the native “Canadian Shield” bedrock formation, a summer “rain/winter icicle” fountain, and portable café furniture. Other features of the park include a “relic” wall, a bittersweet arbor, and a variety of seating types. Special lighting is designed for nighttime effect and security.