Marina Del Rey

Etobicoke, ON

STUDIO tla has been retained to update the centre court at Marina Del Rey while preserving walkways to the water and boardwalk enhancements STUDIO tla had designed more than a decade earlier.

The Centre Court is the central plaza and park space for this large, urban waterfront condominium.  The space was originally designed by STUDIO tla in 1989 as a stylized Linden and Spruce tree forest with a number of seating areas serving as social spaces.  Over time the park has matured into a dense and healthy landscape treasured by the residents.  STUDIO tla was asked to reinvigorate the space to reflect the current needs of the residents and to incorporate present day technologies and sustainability standards.

STUDIO tla’s main objective for the landscape environment is to create a distinctive identity for the central plaza in a post-industrial context while preserving the valuable existing tree canopy.   Our design achieves this through a careful manipulation of the ground plane which at once opens up into a large plaza and shelters the existing vegetation from disruptions.  Central to this matrix is an undulating perimeter wall which captures the roots and soil mass of surrounding the trees while framing the central open plaza. The wall is constructed from light but durable steel which does not require footings or pinning to the garage roof slab.  In a nod to the industrial history of the Toronto Harbour, the planter walls are powder coated in an iconic blue taken from the freighters and rigs which pass by the Marina Dell Rey waterfront.

The ground plane opens up near the centre into a dynamic, multi-use plaza with varying types of surface treatment; the major thoroughfare and gathering space is paved with large format pavers for ease of movement and maintenance.  The adjacent semi private seating areas are delineated with crushed granite fines which allows surface run-off to infiltrate the subgrade and to water the trees.  The interior Spruce trees are preserved by carefully tapering the mounded soil toward the finished grade.  These mounds are variously covered with low maintenance ground covers and sod to provide added places to lounge and view the plaza’s activity.

Paramount to STUDIO tla’s vision for the Centre Court is a pattern and frame for the space that is engaging and beautiful from the view of the condo units which surround and rise above the plaza. From a bird’s eye view the constructed topography augments the flat site into an ever-changing landscape experience throughout the seasons.

The Centre Court redevelopment has been a wonderful opportunity to evolve one our early memorable landscapes into its next phase; a dynamic 21st century plaza which preserves and honours its past.