We’re extremely fortunate to work in a city as innovative and engaged as Toronto. Our North American office, which has proudly operated in Canada’s largest city since we began work on revitalizing the Royal Ontario Museum in 2003, has access to an increasingly interconnected and creative community from which to draw inspiration for our own practice. It’s a vital resource for us as we service cultural clients across North America and the world.
Whether visiting local institutions such as Toronto’s new Museum of Contemporary Art or taking in seasonal programming and installations at annual events like Nuit Blanche and Luminato, we’re never short on touchpoints where Toronto’s creative community is experimenting and playing with novel approaches to public interpretive practice in real time.
One shining example is The Bentway, a multi-use and multi-functional space imagined as a reclamation of a formally static and neglected patch of land under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway. The space has been beautified as a gathering space tied to active, and supported engagement and participation. Careful and widespread consideration, not just of how the space would operate aesthetically but in the cultural programming the space could encourage, has allowed the space the flexibility it needs to implement and seek support for ongoing cultural programming.
The project’s New Monuments for New Cities initiative connected to the High Line Network and Monument Lab is only one such example of this currently underway. The Bentway collaborated with the network on June 16th to curate their Theory X speaker series, gathering experts to the site to propose solutions and scrutiny to the simple question: What is your theory of Toronto?
Imagining public space as conduits for engaged civic discussion and programming is the very same approach we bring to our own public-facing projects. The careful work of collaborating with artists, local stakeholders, and subject experts to imagine living, active spaces that can be continuously reused and reactivated by the community they serve has always been a core conceit informing our practice.
Here in Toronto we’re currently engaged in the early stages of two projects, which will serve to enhance and focus civic discussion in the city from two different frameworks. One urban park project will look to better understand and model our societal shift to working inside local Indigenous communities, focusing development through a reconciliation framework. The other will look to increase civic engagement and the innovative toolkits of youth in Toronto, outfitting them with a platform and resources to take on the evolving challenges facing cities globally. We’re excited to share more about these projects as they progress.
Any chance we’re given to actively contribute to Toronto’s cultural dialogue is an honour. We look forward to continuing to do so with our current clients in the city, while always keeping an eye out for opportunities to forge similar partnerships in the future.