Toronto’s Port Lands

Photo credit: Entuitive

The two newest additions to Toronto’s Port Lands Bridges have opened to the public and signify a major step in the redevelopment of 500 acres of underutilized land.

The additions have been designed as modern structures, and the opening of the Cherry Street North and Commissioners Street Bridges for vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist traffic allows for the ushering of visitors into and around the future site of Villiers Island.

Photo credit: Ryan Walker

The project, called the Waterfront Toronto’s Port Lands Flood Protection Enabling Infrastructure (PLFPEI), called for innovative and aesthetically appealing bridges to be placed over current and future waterways in the area.

The Port Lands Bridges are central to the $1.3B revitalization and regeneration effort and were designed by Entuitive, schlaich bergermann partner (sbp), and Grimshaw Architects.

“We’re pleased to celebrate the opening of Cherry Street North and Commissioners Street Bridges, and to reflect on our rewarding and fruitful collaboration with sbp and Grimshaw, as well as our construction partners at Ellis Don,” said Michael Meschino, principal, Entuitive.

Photo credit: Entuitive

“Waterfront Toronto is one step closer to completing one of the province’s most exciting projects, and the creation of crucial infrastructure, a place to live, work and play, will be a truly remarkable transformation.”

The joint design effort, led by Entuitive, was also supported with direction from Waterfront Toronto and Construction Manager EllisDon, who led the construction process from fabrication to erection.

Photo credit: Entuitive

“We are honored to be a part of the physical transformation of the Toronto waterfront into a vibrant, active, and connected community,” said Juan Porral, partner, Grimshaw. “The Port Lands Bridges enable connectivity and ease of mobility, creating memorable gateways for pedestrians, cyclists, future streetcars, and vehicles onto and through the new Villiers Island.”

The bridges were designed as a unified family of four and showcase fabrication techniques alongside state-of-the-art engineering.

The goal of the design was to create elegant structures that will function as both crossing points and destinations for the public. The single-span Cherry Street North Road and LRT Bridges and the four-span Commissioners Street Bridge join the previously opened Cherry Street South Bridge.

Photo credit: Jonathan Careless

The Cherry Street South Bridge, with three spans, crosses the new mouth of the Don River on the west side of Villiers Island and was opened in October 2022.

“The Port Lands Bridges are a prime example of how creative teams of architects, engineers, contractors, and owners can come together and design beautiful bridges,” said Michael Stein, managing director, sbp. “We are thrilled to contribute to the evolution of Villiers Island with bridges that serve the community both as functional infrastructure and as engaging landmarks that improve the quality of their built environment.”

Entuitive, sbp, and Grimshaw worked to ensure the bridges reached the high aesthetic requirements. The result of Port Lands Bridges has been recognized with engineering and steel construction design awards in North America and Europe, such as the Institution of Structural Engineers, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, the Structural Engineers Association of NY, and the Association of Consulting Engineers Companies for Ontario.

“From concept to construction there have been many challenges, which brought lots of opportunity for innovation and collaboration,” said Jonathan Werner, senior associate, Entuitive. “Seeing the Port Lands Bridges open to the public for them to use and enjoy makes it all worthwhile.”

Photo credit: Ryan Walker

The PLFPEI project called for bridges that would reference the history of Toronto’s waterfront while also supporting a livable and walkable future for the new neighborhood.

As a result, the design team came up with a a hybrid shell-arch bridge structure. This self-anchoring curved-tied arch maximizes the material efficiency while also reducing costs. Tied arches only create vertical reaction forces which also reduce the size and complexity of the foundations.

Since the soil in the industrial area is contaminated and of poor quality, this was a key design consideration as the foundations and piers were also limited by the site’s flood protection plan.


Technical Sheet:

Project Owner: Waterfront Toronto
Architect Firm: Grimshaw Architects
Preliminary Structural Design: schlaich bergermann partner (sbp)
Structural Engineer: Entuitive
General Contractor: EllisDon
Fabricator: Cherubini Bridges & Structures
Detailer: Tenca Steel Detailing Inc.
Erector: ES Fox Ltd.
Erection Engineer: Harbourside Engineering Consultants
Geotechnical Engineer: Thurber Engineering Ltd.
Civil Engineer: Planmac Engineering Inc.
Electrical & Lighting: Mulvaney & Banani Lighting Inc.

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