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Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Canada Architecture News - Aug 02, 2021 - 15:37   3981 views

Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Toronto-based architecture practice Diamond Schmitt has revealed design for Therme Canada | Ontario Place, a year-round landmark waterfront destination that reconnects people to Lake Ontario, Canada

The design for Ontario Place's West Island will comprise a planned expansion of public park space, honour and celebrate Ontario Place's history, including the iconic 1967 Pods and Cinesphere. 

Diamond Schmitt's design incorporates three themes within the masterplan: the scale and spirit of exhibition pavilions; the restorative qualities of natural forms; and the transparency of greenhouse architecture. 

The project is led by Diamond Schmitt and Therme ARC and includes Canadian companies: landscape architects STUDIO tla, shoreline engineers Baird, civil engineers Arup, transportation consultants BA Group and building code consultants LMDG

Future Ontario-based team members will include structural engineers, heritage consultants, and aquatic habitat consultants. 

Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Therme Canada | Ontario Place, West Island exterior. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt.

"Therme is grounded in the planned expansion of public park space. It honours and celebrates Ontario Place's history, including the Pods and Cinesphere," said Gary McCluskie, principal Diamond Schmitt.

"We designed the West Island of Ontario Place to connect people to the water year-round. Our design weaves three themes, expressed through architecture: exhibition pavilions; natural forms; and greenhouse architecture," McCluskie added.

Therme Canada | Ontario Place is designed as a year-round entertainment and relaxation destination that will house botanical gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, and improved public access through the creation of more than eight acres of public space. 

To enhance the connection and experience with the Lake, the design will offer a free-access public beach and much expanded pedestrian and cycling access for people. 

The  new aspects of the facilities are comprised of four main components: a new entrance pavilion, a new bridge to the West Island, new parkland and beach areas, and the main Therme Canada | Ontario Place building. 

The Therme building transforms the West Island and is designed to combine the restorative environment of a botanical garden with the physical and sensory experience of an aquatic environment. 

Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Therme Canada | Ontario Place exterior rendering. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt.

Therme Entrance Pavilion is aimed to establish a new public presence along Lake Shore Boulevard West with an open and welcoming form with three transparent vaults inspired by a trillium flower. Described as a hub, it will also feature an information and exhibition space with an access to the West Island. 

As it can be seen from the main image, a double height, wood-lined entry hall defines the pavilion's natural character. 

"The Therme facility preserves and honours the heritage of the West Island site with a scale and spirit inspired by the neighbouring Ontario Place Pavilions and Cinesphere, which will be protected," said Diamond Schmitt.

"The goal of supporting body and spirit with wellbeing in an egalitarian, welcoming environment is infused throughout the pavilion's transparent and natural forms." 

Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Therme Canada | Ontario Place exterior rendering. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt.

The second component is Therme Bridge, which will connect the mainland to the West Island and provide all-season public access to the island park and a new public beach. 

The bridge integrates interior passage for Therme visitors and open access for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge cladding is glass and copper - connecting the entrance Pavilion to the main Therme building. 

The Therme Bridge also maintains boat access to the inner Ontario Place Marina, and the open space on the bridge offers improved vantage points for dragon boat racing and other waterway activities.

Diamond Schmitt reveals design for Ontario Place's West Island Redevelopment

Therme Canada | Ontario Place exterior rendering. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt.

Parkland/Beach is the third component of design. The planned design of the parklands and beach areas will surround the Therme Canada | Ontario Place building, while ensuring year-round public waterfront access. 

The restorative value of outdoor green spaces for recreation, community gathering, and overall quality of life will be enriched with free, public swimming areas; a new significantly expanded beach area; improved access to the lake edge, beach, wetlands; and an extension of the William G Davis trail across the entire site, accessible to all.

The fourth component of the project is Therme Building, and its envelope of the main Therme Canada | Ontario Place building is clad in energy efficient, triple layer bird friendly glass on a steel structure, building on the tradition of public botanical greenhouses and glazed exhibition halls. The curvilinear roof is formed by a series of layers. 

Visitors arrive at a belvedere overlooking of the aquatic halls that house the botanical gardens and pools. The building program is distributed over multiple levels, with the largest spaces located on the ground floor. The interior and exterior experiences are woven together throughout the levels of the building. 

The glass greenhouse architecture supports the integration of landscape inside the building with indoor pools and a transparent envelope allowing vistas of Lake Ontario and abundant daylight for the planted interior environment. A series of landscaped roofs extends the planted environment to the form. In summer, rooftop pools-adjustable by season-provide a transition between the exterior and interior. 

Based in Toronto, Diamond Schmitt was founded in 1975 by Jack Diamond and Donald Schmitt. The firm is a global architecture firm delivering design that empowers people, communities, and organizations to harness change for the greater public good.

Diamond Schmitt is working on the Ottawa Public Library and Archives in Canada and working with New York-based architecture studio Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects I Partners on the redesign of David Geffen Hall at New York's Lincoln Center.

Top image: Therme Canada | Ontario Place entrance pavilion rendering. Image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt.

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