Just a tad…
I use to love going to Ontario Place when i was a kid. Probably more than going to the CNE. One word. Cinesphere. I didn’t know what it ment and I had no idea what this IMAX was all about. What I did know though is it was all sorts of awesome watching massive objects flying past me at a 100 miles an hour. Jets, check. Birds, check. Space ships, triple check! My first experience riding a bumper boat was here. Jumping in a pool of bouncing ball all done here. Atlantis night club, I’m still trying to forget that. I’m happy there’s some buzz about the future of Ontario Place. There is so much that can be done. I just hope the government opens it up to the regular peeps to give their two cents about the future of this semi great Ontario/Toronto land mark. My two cents, don’t even think of touching the golf ball.
If you have ideas to make over Ontario Place, follow this link to MERX to get the RFI (Request for Information). You have until 4pm on Friday September 10, 2010 to submit.
You can read Daniel Dale’s full article in The Toronto Star here
Ontario Place: ‘A fantastic Jaguar, and you run it into a ditch’
Eb Zeidler is 84 and mostly retired, and he tries to be nice when he talks about what happened to Ontario Place in the decades after he designed it in the late 1960s.
Who made a mess of the thing? “No point in mentioning names,” he says. What did those unnamed people do wrong? “I can give you a whole slew of things,” he says, “but it’s kind of tiresome.”
Prod the renowned architect just a little, though, and he can’t help himself. Zeidler, who also designed the Eaton Centre, complains about the central location of the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre: “There’s nothing wrong with the amphitheatre, but it split the place in two.”
He complains about the seven concrete silos erected in for a 1980 display on Northern Ontario: “There was no reason for these silos to be on Ontario Place.”
And he decries the gradual construction that he feels made the site cluttered and confused: “We felt that if you have areas of entertainment, there should be a part that is relaxing. There should be some major green spaces. But all those spaces got filled up.”
His thoughts in a simile: “It’s like if you get a fantastic Jaguar and you run it into a ditch.”
You can read Mark Medly’s full article in the National Post here
Once a gem, now generally forgotten, what could the future hold for Ontario Place?
“…Opened in 1971, Ontario Place represents both our idealistic past and our betrayal of it. A masterpiece of modernist architecture by Eberhard Zeidler, who also designed the Eaton Centre, it has been forgotten by the city. Shawn Micallef, author of Stroll and an associate editor of Spacing magazine, says, “it has this wonderful, faded grandeur, which is kind of romantic, but maybe we don’t want it on our waterfront.”
Attendance has plummeted from a high of 2.5 million its inaugural year to less than one million for seven years in a row. So it’s little surprise last week’s news that Ontario Place issued a Request for Information, opening the doors to an extreme makeover, was greeted with a mix of nostalgia, mutters of good riddance and horror at the prospect that some of Toronto’s icons may be lost.
“Everyone has a real emotional attachment to the space, and I think everyone is relieved to see that something is finally happening down there,” says Hugh Mansfield, spokesperson for the revitalization project. “It needs an injection of energy and new ideas.”
But what ideas? The renewal of Ontario Place presents Toronto with an intriguing opportunity: the chance to transform 96 acres of lakefront property.
Though developers have a blank canvas, the new Ontario Place should include educational, recreational, commercial and entertainment components, and showcase Ontario’s green energy initiatives, notes Mansfield. Details on the public consultation process will be announced next week. Proposals will be accepted until Sept. 10. Ideas floated thus far include a university or college campus, a planetarium, a casino and an aquarium, while, in a letter to the Toronto Star, one man proposed an indoor ski hill.
“The idea of theme parks doesn’t really work anymore,” Micallef says. “You can’t really compete with [Canada’s] Wonderland. So it has to be a little more intimate, and maybe a little more urban.”
Perhaps we should revisit the past when deciding the future. Michael McClelland of E.R.A. Architects thinks we should look at Zeidler’s original blueprint…”
You can read Daniel Dale’s full article in The Toronto Star here
10 visions of a new Ontario Place
Ten opinions on what the struggling park should do to succeed
Partner, The Planning Partnership
Unlike Farrow, Madi opposes residential development on the site. Like her, he believes Ontario Place should allow for an all-seasons houseboat community and do away with its general entry fee in favour of charges only for specific attractions. “I personally don’t believe that theme parks work in the long-term. By opening the place up, you bring the volume of traffic up, and then the functions that currently exist become more successful.”
Pedestrian, bicycle and transit access should be improved to better integrate Ontario Place with the city. “Any plans or visions for Ontario Place must include Lakeshore Blvd.”; a streetcar running along the route “would be a phenomenal attraction in and of itself.” A ferry connection from central downtown would also make the site easier to reach.
Chief executive officer, Luminato.
Ontario Place should become known as a home for events that are part of popular festivals like Pride, Caribana, the Jazz Festival and Luminato, Price says. “While I know there is a capital and hardware side to it, I think the real solutions are going to come on the content side,” she says. “If they gathered a group of us and said, ‘What would it take for us to get you to commit, for example, to use the facility. . . and not change your festivals or rename them, but partner with us, for at least five years, for at least one significant event during your festival, and we would in turn commit to a major marketing campaign.’”
Ontario Place will find it difficult to succeed if it attempts to produce its own content, she says.
Founder, Toronto Public
Says Meslin, a community organizer involved in a variety of civic projects: “Maybe part the property could be used as a community meeting space? We have a few large convention centres, but what about smaller groups that can’t afford those spaces? Ontario Place is government-owned, so we could create a space that non-profits could use to hold small conferences, retreats, public events and group activities by the waterfront. A planetarium would be cool too though. . .”