An Ambitious Plan to Rethink Toronto's King Street

Here's a project to watch: an influential group of contractors has been hired for a complete streets makeover for King Street in Toronto.
January 26, 2016, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Edward Keenan reports on a quickly developing plan to remake King Street in Downtown Toronto into a more pedestrian-, bike-, and transit-friendly street.

According to Kennan, the King Street Visioning Study, "aims to 'develop a transformational vision for King Street and generate design ideas to improve streetcar operations, enhance the identity of this significant street and its neighbourhoods and promote walking through significant, innovative place-making initiatives and improvements to the public realm.'" The study has already been commissioned and will launch with initial efforts in the coming weeks.

The King Street efforts has picked up a lot of buzz thanks to the involvement of some of the biggest names in urban design and planning:

It will be led by Public Work, the Toronto landscape architecture firm founded by the designers who came up with the Central Waterfront Plan that has transformed Queens Quay. They are partnered with two international firms: Gehl Architects, whose founder, Jan Gehl, may be the world’s most influential living urban design thinker, famous for his work in Denmark and for writing the report that led to the New York City’s rapid pedestrianization under mayor Michael Bloomberg; and Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, headed by (and named after) the former New York City transportation commissioner widely credited with bringing the term “gridlock” into widespread usage.

Another impressive characteristic of the project is the speed of its schedule. Keenan cites Toronto chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, who "says it’s 'reasonable' to expect it to be a reality in just one year, as a pilot project to test ideas and gather data should by then be in full swing."

The article includes more coverage of the contractors' earlier projects, to "hint at some possibilities" for the King Street project. 

Full Story:
Published on Monday, January 18, 2016 in Toronto Star
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