Canada's Condominium Magazine
Toronto’s urban beach wins American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award, 2012.
Sugar Beach, that quirky little spot with the pink umbrellas just east of the Redpath sugar mill on Queen’s Quay, has picked up another international design award, this one from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). The beach won an Honor Award in the General Design category, the sixth design award the park has won since it opened two years ago.
The Montreal architectural firm of Claude Cormier + Associés turned a grim parking lot into a chic public space by the lake, with a promenade, plaza, beach and, of course, the sugar refinery to look at, and smell. Sweet.
Inspired by Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières.
Sugar Beach takes “conceptual reference” from the famous nineteenth century French painting Bathers at Asnières by Georges Seurat. That painting shows working class bathers by the Seine in Paris, with an industrial landscape as background. It shows a less than romantic side of Paris, the Paris of industry and smoke. Sugar Beach, according to the “project narrative” at ASLA’s web site, does not create a space “for release and repose from labour” as the Seurat scene does, but rather “creates a space for a contemporary form of recreation, a kind of idle productivity that comes from a space that allows for personalization and an uncluttered horizon to refresh the imagination.” Not just a place to walk the dog or throw a ball around, this place “accommodates the emerging desire to recreate by engaging the mind, and one another, at a scale that is intimate yet public, easy yet challenging, where the body retreats and the mind is stimulated.”
But this rather modest creation has an even greater existential role to play. For the many who cannot avail themselves of the traditional cottage getaway, Sugar Beach “offers a sustainable alternative and a curious twist to notions of ‘urban escape.’”
That seems a lot of freight to carry for a small patch of sand and a few Muskoka chairs. But the place is lovely and will likely succeed in its objective of drawing visitors, especially as work progresses on the rest of the East Bayfront community that it is part of.
The beach has 150 recycled plastic “Adirondak” chairs, a water feature set into a granite maple leaf, and a plaza for public events. A granite outcropping and three grass mounds create a natural amphitheatre for outdoor concerts on the stage of the adjacent entertainment studio.
According to a release, the ASLA awards celebrate the top public places, residential designs, campuses, parks and urban planning projects from across the US and around the world. Other winning projects include the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, China’s Quarry Garden in the Shanghai Botanical Gardens and the Tudela-Culip Restoration Project in Catalonia, Spain.