Ontario Place

New design revealed for West Island at Ontario Place

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Diamond Schmitt is leading the design for the West Island at Ontario Place alongside Vienna-based wellbeing organization Therme Group.

Marking the  50th anniversary of Ontario Place, the provincial government announced its plan in late July to redevelop the destination into three attractions. This includes Therme Canada | Ontario Place, a family-friendly, all-season spot with botanical gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, more than eight acres of public space, and public beaches.

“We designed the West Island of Ontario Place to connect people to the water year-round,” said Gary McCluskie, principal Diamond Schmitt. “Our design weaves three themes, expressed through architecture: exhibition pavilions; natural forms; and greenhouse architecture.”

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.

Ontario Place

Rendering of West Island at Ontario Place. Courtesy Diamond Schmitt.

The entrance pavilion establishes a new public presence along Lake Shore Boulevard West with an open and welcoming form with three transparent vaults inspired by a trillium flower.  A double height, wood-lined entry hall defines the pavilion’s natural character.

Entrance pavillion. Courtesy Diamond Schmitt.

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.

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Neighboring Cinesphere and exhibition. Courtesy Diamond Schmitt.

A bridge will connects the mainland to the West Island, with year-round public access to the island park and a new public beach. The bridge integrates an interior passage for visitors and open access for pedestrians and cyclists, and is clad with glass and copper. Open space on the bridge offers improved vantage points for dragon boat racing and other waterway activities.

The restorative value of outdoor green spaces for recreation, community gathering, and overall quality of life will coincide 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.

Southeast view. Courtesy Diamond Schmitt.

The exterior 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 will arrive at a belvedere overlooking the aquatic halls that house the botanical gardens and pools. The largest spaces are located on the ground floor, and 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.

The design team includes: 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.

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