Rendezviews, the colourful pop-up patio that has taken over 229 Richmond Street West for the past three years, is set to be replaced by an illuminating public park, the design details of which were released on Monday.
After launching an international design competition, the winning submission chosen by the City of Toronto came from West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. Dubbed Wàwàtesí, which translates to “Firefly” in Anishinaabemowin, the chosen design incorporates lights, public art, thoughtful landscaping, and entertainment opportunities, including a screening area for TIFF movies.
City of Toronto
For those sad about the loss of the bustling spot to grab a drink or bite to eat in the warmer months, the plan has long been to turn the site into a park. The City purchased the land back in 2019 with the intention of eventually building a park, but as the lot sat vacant and patio space became increasingly in demand during the pandemic, The Ballroom and The Fifth Social Club leased it out beginning in 2020, turning it into an eclectic spot with brightly painted picnic tables, massive colourful murals (including one on the ground) and screens for catching the game.
Although the new park won't be quite as colourful, the City hopes it will provide a green oasis to those who live, work in, or visit the area.
"Wàwàtesí will transport visitors through a woodland experience, all while in a downtown neighbourhood surrounded by high-rise buildings," the City of Toronto said in a release.
Renderings of the park space reveal a relatively flat park with curving paths and a large central lawn. The focal point, though, is "The Balcony," a winding elevated platform the runs the width of the park and is decorated with projected art (ongoing curation will be done by Native Art Department International).
City of Toronto
A recycled steel slide will come down from the Balcony and connect with a play area dubbed the Riverbed Playscape, a nod to the river that once ran through the area. This area of the park will also have hammocks.
A public washroom is also included in the design, with plans to place it on the southeast side of the site, just beside the Balcony.
The park won't be making an appearance any time soon, though, as the design will go through two years of conceptual transformation as a more detailed plan is finalized, with construction expected to start in 2025 and finish in 2026.