Under The Gardiner: Retail Pavilions

New Public: In-Between and Underneath

Locat­ed under­neath the Gar­diner Express­way, Under the Garid­ner: Retail Pavil­ions cre­ates a new urban con­nec­tion from the Fort York neigh­bour­hood to the Waterfront’s West Block while reclaim­ing the unde­fined and under­uti­lized space for ani­mat­ed pub­lic use. The design aims to cre­ative­ly tie itself into the greater plans for the pedes­tri­an­ized ‘Bent­way’ cor­ri­dor below the ele­vat­ed arte­r­i­al road and in so doing cre­ates a new retail mod­el for the inten­si­fi­ca­tion of urban streets.

‘Under the Gar­diner,’ an ini­tia­tive launched by the City of Toron­to, trans­forms the areas beneath the express­way into vibrant com­mu­ni­ty and retail spaces that play host to a range of cul­tur­al and retail pro­gram­ming – cre­at­ing a new pub­lic space for the use of the 70, 000 res­i­dents in near­by neigh­bor­hoods and for vis­i­tors who use the many ameni­ties and attrac­tions in the area.

Durable out­door mate­ri­als are ren­dered like inte­ri­or fin­ish­es.

This project draws out retail spaces usu­al­ly incor­po­rat­ed in the base of new mixed-use build­ings through­out the rapid inten­si­fi­ca­tion of the city and reimag­ines them as free-stand­ing ani­ma­tors of a new­ly con­ceived pub­lic space at the street, side­walk, and com­mu­ni­ty plaza. The project includes four pavil­ions that togeth­er define a pub­lic pedes­tri­an square bound­ed by Bathurst Street to the west, Housey Street to the north, and West Block to the south. Ele­ments for urban con­nec­tion thread between the pavil­ions to accom­mo­date slow­er space both per­pen­dic­u­lar to the city streets, and par­al­lel to the Bent­way open­ing up a series of pub­lic spaces for the local com­mu­ni­ty.

The design takes advan­tage of the road bridge over­head struc­ture as a pro­tec­tive ele­ment, shel­ter­ing the site from inclement weath­er and cre­at­ing a kind of ‘pub­lic inte­ri­or’, com­plete with wood sof­fits and light­ing ele­ments incor­po­rat­ed into a pub­lic art instal­la­tion. As is pri­or­i­tized in the City of Toronto’s Retail Design Man­u­al, Under the Gar­diner: Retail Pavil­ions devel­ops a unique mod­el for the crit­i­cal and pro­duc­tive inter­face between retail frontage and the archi­tec­ture of new­ly defined pub­lic spaces. Dis­crete canopies and over­hangs define the store­fronts of each pavil­ion and rescales the space under the mam­moth steel struc­ture for a human, pedes­tri­an realm.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Choice Prop­er­ties REIT, Cap­i­tal Devel­op­ments, Wit­ting­ton Prop­er­ties Ltd.

  • Location

    Toron­to, Ontario

  • Status


  • Affiliate Architect

    Archi­tects Alliance — Archi­tect of Record

  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Struc­tur­al — RJC Engi­neers

    Land­scape — NAK Design Strate­gies

  • General Contractor

    Ellis­Don, Rochan Build­ing Cor­po­ra­tion

  • Photography

    Ava Downey

  • Artist / Graphics

    Sean Ver­ho­even