Toronto Architect Proposes Greenwrapping Elevated Highway

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Toronto Architect Proposes Greenwrapping Elevated Highway

| architects, architecture, built environment, Green Built Environment | July 08, 2009


In Seoul or San Francisco, they took down their expressways. In New York, they built the High Line on top of an abandoned elevated rail line. In Toronto, they don’t have the guts to tear down the Gardiner expressway, so architect Les Klein has come up with the typical compromise solution: Put a High Line on top of the expressway.  

Klein states the obvious to Paige Magarrey in Azure:

“Once you tear it down, it’s gone.”

Well yes, that might be the point. But Klein says if we keep it we might have both a better highway and a park.

Accessed via stairs and ramps at all intersections, the Green Ribbon would also have elevators and concessions at the busier junctions. From melting snow to lighting, the whole project would be self-powered by wind turbines and photovoltaic systems lining the whole seven kilometers.

Klein knows all the green arguments.

The most green thing you can do is not sending something to a landfill,” he says, adding that the amount of energy required to dispose of all the rubble would be staggering.

Meanwhile, the Green Ribbon could decrease the heat island effect in Toronto, while adding green space and giving the people living around it a completely different kind of view. But most importantly, he says, a concept like this stops the city from making a decision that it’s not ready to make yet. “Once we take down the Gardiner, it’s gone for good.”

Klein then takes a huge leap and calls the Gardiner a heritage structure.

“It’s time to think about the Gardiner in a different way,” he says. The Green Ribbon is intended to get Torontonians reflecting on what the Gardiner once was – and what it could be in the future. “Cities are often judged by how they treat their heritage,” he says. “40 years ago, the Gardiner was a symbol of progress, a symbol of success, a symbol of power. You can’t just snap your fingers and say ‘that doesn’t matter.’”

Sometimes you can. Sometimes you just have to look past the solar panels, wind turbines, bicycle paths and even invocations of minimizing waste and point out that it is a highway full of cars that are being dumped into downtown, not a heritage structure. Greenwrapping it doesn’t change that.

Via Treehugger Blog

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the latest trends in the fields of architecture and building design. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

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