Lake, Ferry < Island > Flood, Design - Demarcating public space on Ward’s Island after flood protection

Figure 1. In the late 1950s hundreds of homes across Toronto Island were demolished to make room for parkland.

ARC395H1 S
Instructor: Chloe Town
Meeting Section: P0101
Summer 2024
Dates: July 8 - 29, 2024

Today, the Toronto Island is primarily known as a public park. It is also considered the largest urban car-free community in North America. At 820 acres, the landmass is very close in size to Manhattan’s Central Park (843 acres). Yet, unlike Central Park, where Vaux and Olmstead’s original design has remained significantly the same since 1876, the use and planning of the Island has undergone many changes in the past 150 years.

Lake Ontario, for example, continues to exert influence on the shape of the shoreline. Water management control points hundreds of kilometers away, along the St Lawrence Seaway System, coupled with climate change, pose an ever-escalating flood risk to the residential communities on the Island’s eastern end known as Ward’s. The shoreline, in other words, changes as the water table rises and falls.

Using the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Baird Engineering’s Risk Assessment and Flood Mitigation Reports as a starting point, this studio asks what might happen after environmental protection measures are installed in the coming years.

How will public amenities, like viewing platforms or seating, be incorporated on or around the proposed berms?

As a design-build studio we are going to spend meaningful time on the site. We will take the ferry to the Island several times and, together with Island residents, decide on where to stake our project. We will think about non-human life alongside the desire for recreational, public space and speculate on how to envision the parameters of a larger intervention, at 1:1, using materials in inventive ways. Students will build a removable prototype to place in situ, within a larger demarcated territory, to test and envision a possible future on Ward’s Island waterfront.


In order to apply, please submit a paragraph describing your interest in this Design Build course, 5 work samples (student work), and a short CV. This course is available to HBA AS students in year 2 or higher who completed ARC200H1 and ARC201H1.

Applications are to be submitted HERE (Please note the form is limited to 1 submission. Further editing and amendments are NOT allowed after the form has been submitted.).

Information sessions for this course will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2024 from 12:00pm – 2:00pm (please see email for more details).

The deadline to apply is Monday, February 19, 2024 at 11:59pm EST.