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Prince Arthur’s Landing by Brook McIlroy
Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 |

Canadian architecture, landscape and urban planning firm Brook McIlroy has shared with us Prince Arthur's Landing, an expansive downtown waterfront revitalization project for Thunder Bay, Ontario. The award-winning development opened in December 2011 and was designed by Brook McIlroy as lead consultant.

Prince Arthur's Landing, Thunder Bay's New Downtown Waterfront from BrookMcIlroy/ on Vimeo.

Pier 2 with Picnic Docks and Sleeping Giant in background

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Pier 2 with Picnic Docks and Sleeping Giant in background

Project Description from Brook McIlroy:

The Prince Arthur’s Landing project has transformed the City of Thunder Bay’s waterfront into a mixed-use village and highly animated waterfront park that reconnects the downtown to the shores of Lake Superior.  The waterfront officially opened to the public on December 16th, 2011, and has since seen record attendance and continues to be met with overwhelming industry acclaim and community support. To-date, the project has received ten design awards from architecture, landscape architecture and urban design industries, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Urban Institute, the Waterfront Center (D.C.), the International Downtown Association, and the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, amongst others.

Awards received to date, include:

  • 2012 Waterfront Center (Washington D.C.), Excellence on the Waterfront Honor Award
  • 2012 International Downtown Association, Pinnacle Award, Public Space Category
  • 2012 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada National Urban Design Award, Medal, Urban Fragments Category
  • 2012 Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, Award for Service to the Environment
  • 2012 Canadian Institute of Planners, Award for Planning Excellence, Aboriginal Community Planning
  • 2012 Ontario Association of Architects Award, Artifact Category
  • 2012 Ontario Wood WORKS! Northern Ontario Excellence Award
  • 2012 Ontario Wood WORKS! Jury’s Choice Award
  • 2011 North American Wood Design Council, Award of Merit
  • 2010 Canadian Urban Institute Awards, Best Large Scale Project

The Viewing Circle at the base of Pier 2

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The Viewing Circle at the base of Pier 2

One of Three ‘Picnic Docks’ on Pier 2

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One of Three ‘Picnic Docks’ on Pier 2

Commencing in 2006, the City of Thunder Bay commissioned a team led by Brook McIlroy to design its new waterfront to enhance the City’s image and high quality of life. With a vision led by urban designers, planners, architects and landscape architects, in conjunction with all levels of government, the project demonstrates innovation in creating activities, forms and spaces that integrate local culture and reflect the uniquely indigenous opportunities of sustainable city building in North America. The redesign of the City’s historic port provides residents with a truly unique waterfront destination that embodies the spirit of this spectacular setting.

In 2009, the City was awarded the second largest contribution in Ontario under the National Infrastructure Stimulus Fund program. Through a $22 million investment, the City successfully leveraged a comprehensive revitalization project with a construction value of $120 million, composed of $55 million in public sector funding, along with by $65 million of private sector investment.

The project is based on a philosophy of urban design which embodies the spirit, materiality and culture of northern Ontario and this magnificent waterfront setting overlooking “Nanabijou” / the Sleeping Giant – a landform on the horizon, which is one of Canada’s most powerful and iconic natural vistas.

Inspiration was drawn from thousands of years of aboriginal settlement history; the western threshold of the greatest and largest freshwater ‘sea’ in the world; the launch-pad of settlement of Western Canada; the junction between the western railways and ships of the Great Lakes; and, the place where western and northwestern Canadian troops bid farewell as they headed off to WWI and WWII.

Waterfront Plaza

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Waterfront Plaza

Waterfront Plaza

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Waterfront Plaza

One of two 22-metres tall Beacons

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One of two 22-metres tall Beacons

Key components of the project’s public elements include:

  • An extensive waterfront park network including dedicated trails and a sequence of highly landscaped thematic destinations incorporating water features and $760,000 in public art installations.
  • Water Garden Pavilion – a public building consisting of ‘The Clearing,’ a full service restaurant, the ‘Mariner’s Hall’ public event space, and support services for the adjacent water feature which provides winter skating and a summer splash pad.
  • Baggage Building Arts Centre – a renovated 1900’s heritage ‘Baggage Building’ structure with a two-level addition containing a public art gallery, retail, artisan studios and fine arts teaching areas.
  • Market Square and Waterfront Plaza – located at the heart of the project, these outdoor spaces provide a beautiful multi-purpose piazza area.
  • Pond Pavilion – a support building for nearby waterfront recreation activities as well as providing bicycle, canoe, kayak and children’s paddleboat rentals.
  • Skate Board Park – an exciting activity area and source of entertainment for visitors.
  • Spirit Garden – an outdoor performance/gathering area and rich public park space featuring landscapes and structures which honour Thunder Bay’s Aboriginal heritage.
  • A 276-slip Marina.

Private sector components include:

  • CN Station – a three-storey heritage building that is being renovated and leased to accommodate a high-end restaurant and other amenities that will enhance visitors’ experiences.
  • Market Building – a two-storey building that will house retail, food/beverage and office building uses.
  • Waterfront Hotel: a 150-room, Delta hotel and conference centre.
  • Two Condominium buildings with 99 units.

Water Garden Pavilion

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Water Garden Pavilion

Skating rink with fire place in front of the Water Garden Pavilion

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Skating rink with fire place in front of the Water Garden Pavilion

Splash pad in front of the Water Garden Pavilion

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Splash pad in front of the Water Garden Pavilion

Mariner’s Hall in the Water Garden Pavilion

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Mariner’s Hall in the Water Garden Pavilion

The Lodge in the Water Garden Pavilion

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The Lodge in the Water Garden Pavilion

The Clearing, restaurant, in the Water Garden Pavilion

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The Clearing, restaurant, in the Water Garden Pavilion

Exterior of the Water Garden Pavilion

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Exterior of the Water Garden Pavilion

Baggage Building Arts Centre

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Baggage Building Arts Centre

Baggage Building Arts Centre with Jardin Elipse in foreground

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Baggage Building Arts Centre with Jardin Elipse in foreground

Water-feature wall outside the Baggage Building Arts Centre

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Water-feature wall outside the Baggage Building Arts Centre

Interior of the Baggage Building Arts Centre

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Interior of the Baggage Building Arts Centre

Poetry etched in granite seating bench

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Poetry etched in granite seating bench

The Gathering Circle at sunrise

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The Gathering Circle at sunrise

Gathering Circle overlooking downtown Thunder Bay at dusk

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Gathering Circle overlooking downtown Thunder Bay at dusk

The Honoring Circle within the Spirit Garden

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The Honoring Circle within the Spirit Garden

Site Plan with Programming Indicated

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Site Plan with Programming Indicated

Announced on September 12, 2012, Brook McIlroy was named lead architect for the design of the new Delta Hotel on Thunder Bay’s waterfront. The hotel, featuring 9,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, a 5,300 square foot ballroom with waterfront views, and a full service restaurant and lounge, is slated to open early 2014.

Find more photos and drawings of Prince Arthur's Landing in the image gallery below. All images courtesy of Brook McIlroy.

Master Plan Rendering of the Shoreline Steps Impromptu, tiered seating areas at the Waterfront Plaza Poetry along the perimeter of the Viewing Circle The Viewing Circle with dramatic views onto the Sleeping Giant Looking onto the Water Garden Pavilion from Jardin Elipse Interior of the Baggage Building Arts Centre Detail of the Beacons with LED Lighting a cascading Morse Code story Beacon at the end of Pier 3 The Spirit Garden and Gathering Circle Entrance to the Gathering Circle Gathering Circle with steel panes etched with Aboriginal artwork Traditional Aboriginal bentwood building techniques Educational Signage at the Living Shoreline within the Spirit Garden Thunder Bay, 1800’s Water Garden Pavilion Floor Plan Baggage Building Arts Centre Ground Floor Plan Baggage Building Arts Centre Upper Floor Plan


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