Ken Greenberg is an urban designer and visiting scholar with the Ryerson City Building Institute. He’s playing a crucial role in Toronto’s Bentway Project, which will create 1.75 km of public space underneath the Gardiner Expressway. As a member of the design team, he has some unique insights into what we can expect to see when the project opens in late 2017. (You may have recently seen Greenberg interviewed by the CBC about the project.)
Why is the Bentway so important to Toronto?
There are several things. The sheer creation of a new public space 1.75 km in length from Strachan to Spadina and about 10 acres in area will form a great new 5-storey high civic “living room” for activities that don’t currently have a home. It’s also pioneering a new model for creating public spaces in our city by combining public and private resources in a unique partnership. Thirdly, it provides a new model of long-term sustainable stewardship for programming, operation and maintenance that could be replicated elsewhere in the future.
How will it improve life for Torontonians and tourists?
The Bentway will provide an important addition to the repertory of public spaces in an intensely developing area which is deficient in parks and open space. Between Liberty Village, Fort York Neighbourhood, City Place, Bathurst Quay, Niagara Neighbourhood, Wellington Place approximately 77,000 new residents have moved into this area, most in the last 15 years. The Bentway will also be a resource for the entire city region and visitors as a critical new contribution to the great ongoing revitalization of the waterfront and its uplands.
Is the Bentway modelled after any other projects?
While there are similarities, there is no exact match. Last year, we were invited by Friends of the High Line in New York City to be part of a network of 15 cities working to create thriving, hybrid public spaces out of post-industrial infrastructure. Other city projects in the network include the Atlanta BeltLine (Atlanta, GA), the High Line (Manhattan, NYC), the 606, (Chicago, IL), the Underline (Miami, FL), and Waterfront Seattle (Seattle, WA). We meet periodically to share best practices and experiences and advocate for what is quickly becoming a movement.