Green Line Ideas Competition

1. Introduction

Architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, artists and community members are invited to create visionary design proposals for the public use of an overhead transmission line corridor (a.k.a. hydro corridor) in midtown Toronto. We encourage bold ideas and practical solutions to address important issues such as alternative transportation and safety concerns. Multi-disciplinary teams are encouraged.

This design competition aims to demonstrate the potential of the particular hydro corridor site and also to foster a discussion on public use of other similar spaces in North American cities. Imagine the electricity infrastructure as a Green Line -- a pedestrian and cycling link across the middle of the city and a public space and recreational amenity to the many neighbourhoods across Toronto that it links.

About the Green Line Ideas Competition

This is an open, international ideas competition whose purpose is to gather a range of possibilities for the Green Line site in order to stimulate dialogue and action. The ideas will not be built, but they are meant to get the communities who live, study and work near the site to start thinking about its future. Also, the intent is to demonstrate the value of creating a unified vision along the length of the entire hydro corridor, rather than to have this space develop in a piecemeal way.

The competition results will be showcased in Spacing, an online and print magazine that reaches a wide and diverse audience interested in urban issues across Canada. Also, we intend to exhibit a selection of the competition entries along the Green Line site itself.

What is the Green Line?

The Green Line is an overhead transmission line, or hydro corridor as they are known in Canada, in midtown Toronto that is more than 5km (3 miles) long. It passes through a wide range of neighbourhoods, from Davenport Village to the Annex. The Green Line is already well used by local residents. It has splash pads, sports fields, allotment gardens, parking lots and children’s playgrounds, but the spaces are mostly in poor condition and the corridor does not currently provide a continuous physical connection due to grade changes and fencing.

The Green Line crosses interesting and varied territory: the western end starts at Earlscourt Park and moves diagonally through a residential area where it follows Geary Avenue home to an indoor parkour gym, a costume rental warehouse, a karaoke bar, music and photography studios, autobody shops, bakeries, boarded up Victorian storefronts and a former factory now home to many creative industries. For the remainder of its length the Green Line runs parallel to Dupont Street immediately north of the Canada Pacific company’s rail line. The east end of the line, where much of the space is used for paid parking, passes social housing, new condos, George Brown College, a great view of historic home Casa Loma, the Toronto Archives and the Tarragon Theatre.

The Green Line Ideas Competition site is in Toronto, Ontario, Canada but a corridor of overhead transmission lines can be found running through many urban centres in North America. Therefore, the site and competition could be seen as a case study for this condition.

2. What is the Challenge?

Competition objectives

There are two Green Line competition streams: the Green Line Vision and the Green Line Underpass Solution. See below for the competition objectives of each:

Competition A – Green Line Vision

We challenge competitors to create compelling visions for the public use of more than five kilometres of transmission line corridor (see Map A for the extents). This open, one-stage competition seeks to identify proposals for the public use of the Green Line that:

Define a comprehensive vision for the Green Line across its varied territory;
Identify design solutions to the challenge of providing a safe and continuous pedestrian and cycle connection across the full length of the Green Line. Suggestions for tying into Toronto’s cycling network would be welcomed;
The Green Line should be considered as both a series of community spaces and a physical and psychological link across the city;
As this corridor runs through neighbourhoods with low provision of park space, competitors are asked to consider how to make the most of the corridor space seven days a week throughout the year;
Designs are encouraged to be sustainable and to provide a framework for different sections to be implemented over time.

Competition B – Green Line Underpass Solution

We ask competitors to propose a re-design for the intersection and railway underpass (also known as a "subway") at Dovercourt Road between Dupont Street and Geary Avenue. This open, one-stage competition seeks solutions that:

Provide a detailed design to improve pedestrian, cyclist and car-users’ safety and mobility;
Make an improved physical, visual and/or psychological connection for the Green Line;
Create a design for this location that may also serve as a model for the other eight underpasses along the Green Line (circled in Map B);
Designs for Competition B should be realistic and implementable. Solutions that can be realized for a modest budget may be preferred.

Competition guidelines

The competition guidelines below are to be followed for both competition streams:

1. The primary purpose of the hydro corridor is for transmitting electricity. Permitted secondary uses in the City of Toronto are as follows:
Public uses on transmission corridor land include, but are not limited to, transportation (roads, transit, walking and cycling trails, parking), infrastructure (stormwater management and essential public services) and recreation uses (parks, trails, playing fields, agriculture).
Public uses generally will have priority over private ones. Private uses may include, but are not limited to, parking lots, open storage and agriculture.

2. Please follow the Hydro One guidelines below within the hydro corridor (these don’t apply to the adjacent roads and sidewalks within the competition boundary):
Keep 15m (50 feet) clear at the base of the hydro towers. This space is needed for maintenance and repair of the towers. Towers are identified on the plan as squares located along the centre of the corridor measuring about 5.5m to 6m (18 to 20 feet) at their base and spaced approximately 150m to 200m (500 to 650 feet) apart.
Grading plans must ensure that standing water does not occur within 15m (50 feet) of the towers.
Any proposed uses on the corridor must not obstruct access to hydro towers. To achieve this, a 6m (20 feet) wide swath must be provided and available along the length of the corridor to enable unobstructed access for emergency and maintenance requirements.
Mature height for any vegetation within the hydro corridor is limited to a maximum of 4m (13.5 feet)
Permanent structures of any kind are not permitted by Hydro One within the hydro corridor. Small installations such as fences, playground equipment and parking meters currently exist within the corridor. For the purpose of this ideas competition please use your own discretion if proposing any installations, but do not include anything with height of more than 4m (13.5 feet)

3. Please follow the City of Toronto’s policy regarding Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). In a report by Toronto Public Health that was approved by the City of Toronto’s Council in 2008, the City’s position on Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) was outlined as follows:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the magnetic component of EMF as a possible carcinogen because of the association between exposures to EMF magnetic fields in the home and childhood leukemia. Given the possible link between the exposure to EMF and an increase in the risk of leukemia in children, taking practical low or no-cost actions to reduce exposures to young children is prudent.

This report proposes that the City continue with a policy of prudent avoidance and take simple steps that would minimise exposures to EMF from hydro corridors for young children. It recognizes that recreational, trail and park uses of hydro corridors have health benefits for children and adults who use them which outweigh any potential risk from EMF exposure.

4. The competition organizers ask that you do not enter the Green Line competition site except where the site is owned or licensed for public use.

5. By entering the Green Line Ideas Competition you acknowledge having read and agreed to all the terms and conditions stated herein and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless the competition organizers, their sponsors, partners, officers, agents, and employees from and against any and all claims.

Site information

Site extents
The Green Line competition site includes a series of spaces that run diagonally from approximately Landsdowne Avenue and Davenport Road (south of Earlscourt Park) to Bartlett Road and Geary Avenue. From that point, the site runs parallel to Dupont Street, immediately north of the Canadian Pacific rail line to just past Spadina Avenue to connect to Davenport Road once again. The extent of the Green Line competition site includes the hydro corridor and the adjacent streets, sidewalks, intersections and rail underpasses. The Canadian Pacific rail corridor does not form part of the Green Line competition site and should not be included in competitors’ proposals. If desired, competitors can include in their proposals the streetscape along Geary Avenue between Dufferin Road and Bartlett Road and/or the continuation of the hydro corridor to the northwest of the defined competition site.

Ownership and licenses
The Green Line competition site includes the hydro corridor, which is owned by the Province of Ontario as well as the adjacent road right-of-ways (roadways, on-street parking and sidewalks) which are owned by the City of Toronto.

The primary use of the hydro corridor is for the transmission of electricity by the public utility company Hydro One. Much of the hydro corridor land within the competition site is already being licensed for secondary uses under the Provinces Secondary Land Use Program (PSLUP) as follows:

Lands northwest of the Green Line site limit, west of St. Clarens Avenue along Davenport Road to the west of the rail line and north to St. Clair Avenue and beyond, are vacant. Ideas would be welcomed.

The lands on the south side of Davenport Road between the rail line and St. Clarens Avenue are vacant.  

From St. Clarens Avenue to Dufferin Street the majority of lands are licensed to the City of Toronto with the exception of two licenses: a small parcel fronting Primrose Avenue to the Primrose Co-op for parking and maintenance and to a private company on the west side of Dufferin Street for parking and maintenance.

Between Dufferin Street and Dovercourt Road there is a mix of licenses to private parties (on the south side of Geary Avenue, west of Salem Avenue) and to the City of Toronto for public recreational purposes (from the laneway between Bristol Avenue and Dufferin Street to Salem Avenue). The small piece west of the laneway to Dufferin Street contains a Hydro One junction facility. The fenced-in area to the north of the junction is currently licensed on a short term. Apart from the junction facility, this area can be considered for other uses.

Between Shaw Street and Dovercourt Road the lands are licensed to the City of Toronto for public recreational purposes.

The area between Spadina Avenue and Christie Street is occupied by third party license agreements for parking, as well as for a spur line to the TTC. These agreements have been in place for a long time and are expected to remain in place long term.

Corridor lands to the east of Spadina Avenue are committed for a recreational license to the City of Toronto. 

Licenses should be assumed to continue but, where needed, designs may address the ability to use the space for multiple complimentary activities and/or suggest design changes that keep the current use and are able to also achieve the competition objectives.

Site issues
Below are some of the issues along the Green Line that may be addressed by proposals for the Green Line Ideas Competition:

There is a deficiency of park space in the neighbourhoods on the western half of the Green Line site. According to a City of Toronto Parkland Acquisition Study, this area has less than one-fifth the green space of the average Toronto neighbourhood.

There are traffic safety concerns at the underpasses and along the streets adjacent to the east-west portion of the Green Line where cars often speed

There is a lack of continuous access through the length of the Green Line including the following instances:
- There is no pedestrian or cycle connection on the east side of Shaw Street due to a steep grade change and fencing.
- The lack of a physical public connection through the Toronto Transit Commission Hillcrest Complex is particularly a problem as the complex spans four city blocks in each direction and the rail line directly to the south adds to the problem of access.
- There is no access through the private parking lot immediately west of Kendall Avenue or through the public parking lots to the west of the area, but there is continuous access along Bridgman Avenue and Macpherson Avenue.

The parking lots within the hydro corridor west of Bathurst Street are full at peak times (e.g. during the week in the school year near George Brown College; on performance nights near Tarragon Theatre), but empty or only partially used at other times of day or year.

There is a lot of illegal dumping in the hydro corridor, particularly large items and construction waste.

There is dangerous high voltage equipment at Dufferin Junction, Bartlett Junction and at the eastern end of the competition site near the Toronto Bridgman Transformer Station.

3. Competition jury

Shawn Micallef, Senior editor and co-owner, Spacing Media Inc.
Joe Lobko, OAA, FRAIC, Partner, DTAH
Diana Gerrard, OALA, Partner, gh3 inc.
Evan Castel, DNA co-chair and phD candidate, University of Toronto
Netami Stuart, OALA, Landscape Architect, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, City of Toronto


Shawn Micallef is the author of Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto and Full Frontal TO, a columnist at the Toronto Star, and a senior editor and co-owner of the independent, Jane Jacobs Prize–winning magazine Spacing. Spacing is published four times a year in print but maintains a daily blog network across Canada exploring all aspects of Canadian (and international) urbanism. Shawn teaches at the University of Toronto and OCAD University and was a 2011-2012 Canadian Journalism Fellow at University of Toronto's Massey College. He has returned to Massey as a Visiting Scholar for 2012-2013. In 2002, while a resident at the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, he co-founded [murmur], the location-based mobile phone documentary project that has spread to over twenty cities globally. He writes and talks about cities, culture, buildings, art and politics in books, magazines, newspapers, websites and even in front of real live people.


With over 30 years of experience as an architect and urban designer, Joe has a broad range of experience on public and private developments with particular emphasis on urban design, adaptive reuse and the non-profit sector. In 2006, he joined DTAH as a partner with the merger of his practice Joe Lobko Architect, and in the same year he received an urban leadership award from the Canadian Urban Institute and became a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Volunteer efforts include serving on the Board of Directors for ArtsBuild Ontario, past chair of the Toronto Society of Architects, and as a current member of the City of Toronto Design Review Panel. Notable award-winning projects include leading the design of renewal and restoration projects such as Artscape Wychwood Barns and Evergreen Brick Works; the planning and urban design of Waterfront Toronto’s West Don Lands community (with UDA); the L’Arche Dayspring Chapel; Artscape’s first legal live/work project in Toronto; the competition-winning Sims Square office building adjacent to Burlington’s City Hall; and the Fort York Transitional Residence.


Diana Gerrard has over 30 years of experience practicing and teaching landscape architecture. After completing four years of an undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Toronto, Diana went on to complete her Landscape Architecture degree, giving her a unique architectural foundation for her landscape architecture practice. She is one of Toronto’s most innovative landscape architects. Diana has been the landscape architect on a number of large interdisciplinary teams for the master planning and landscape design of public open space initiatives at a wide range of scales, including: the Western Beaches, Toronto; Union Plaza (aka Maple Leaf Square), Toronto; Sheridan College Scholar’s Green, Mississauga City Centre; Trinity College Quadrangle, University of Toronto; and June Callwood Park, Toronto. Diana has also produced cultural heritage studies developing tree selection processes from ecological, historical and cultural data for the City of Montreal. Currently, Diana is partner in charge gh3 for the Edmonton Civic Precinct Master Plan.

EVAN CASTEL, DNA Chair, PhD Candidate, Geography, University of Toronto

Evan Castel is chair of the Davenport Neighbourhood Association (DNA), a diverse community where he has lived, walked and cycled for seven years with his partner and two young children.  With an education in architecture and public health and work experience at a number of Toronto design firms, he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in geography at the University of Toronto.  His research focuses on neighbourhood-level determinants of health with an interest in low-income housing.

NETAMI STUART, OALA, Landscape Architect, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, City of Toronto

Netami Stuart, OALA, is a Landscape Architect for the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division where she plans and designs parks for the City of Toronto. Netami is on the editorial board for Ground Magazine, the Ontario Association of Landscape Architect’s quarterly publication and the Advisory Committee for Jane’s Walk. She is also a certified arborist and an avid urban cyclist.

Competition organizers and sponsors

Workshop Architecture Inc.

Helena Grdadolnik and David Colussi of Workshop Architecture Inc. are the manager and professional advisor for the competition. Workshop Architecture has extensive experience designing community buildings and public spaces. As a full service architectural firm, the firm works collaboratively to create buildings that meet and exceed clients’ needs and aspirations, from renovations to new buildings, urban design and master plans.

Workshop Architecture also engages people with the design of architecture and public space through creative installations, competitions, events and education programs. These projects are often temporary and only sometimes physical, but they seek to catalyze permanent improvements to buildings or spaces.

Davenport Neighbourhood Association

Davenport Neighbourhood Association (DNA) members have assisted in organizing the Green Line Ideas Competition by providing feedback to Workshop Architecture and background material on the site through an advisory committee. DNA is a registered Ratepayers’ Association with the City of Toronto. Their catchment area is between Ossington Avenue and Dufferin Street, and Dupont Street and Davenport Road. DNA was founded in 2007 to increase the sense of community within the area and to improve the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of our rapidly changing neighbourhood.

Canada Council for the Arts

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $154 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil  a investi 154 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Ontario Association of Architects

The OAA is a self-regulating organization with the following mission: To represent, regulate, support and promote the profession of architecture in the interest of all Ontarians, and to lead the design and delivery of built form in the Province of Ontario. The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) is a major sponsor for the Green Line Ideas Competition. Through their generous sponsorship they provided funds towards the competition’s awards.

Astley Gilbert Limited

Astley Gilbert Limited is a major sponsor for the Green Line Ideas Competition. Astley Gilbert Limited (AG), Canada's Largest and Greenest Construction Printer, boasts an amazing staff of high-end Litho and Digital specialists that are experienced in every aspect of the print process. AG partners with you to deliver end-to-end print solutions on-demand. With ten production plants and over 50 customer service vehicles throughout southern Ontario as well as a network of well-organized affiliates around the world, we've got you covered for whatever you need and where ever it’s needed. Please contact us by emailing or visit our website at

Spacing Media Inc.

Spacing is the Green Line Ideas Competition media sponsor. Spacing was launched in 2003 by journalists and public space advocates who felt Toronto needed a publication that would cover key urban issues not being discussed by the local media. Spacing has a wide readership across Canada. Spacing’s print magazine is published four times a year with a readership of 30,000 per issue. Spacing produces a bi-weekly podcast Spacing Radio and also publishes a wide array of digital media, including a national network of blogs in Canadian cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, the Atlantic cities. Combined, the blogs are read by 15,000 daily unique visitors, and almost 5-million pages viewed annually. Spacing Magazine was named Canadian Small Magazine of the Year 2007-09. In 2010, the editors received the Jane Jacobs Award from the Maytree Foundation.

Toronto Society of Architects

Established in 1887, the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) is a non-profit volunteer-based organization comprised of architects, interns, students, urbanists, politicians, academics, retirees, citizens and enthusiasts. The TSA plays an advocacy role in the city, ensuring that architecture and design are key considerations in public discussions and in processes that have an impact on our urban environment. The TSA initiates and sponsors a wide variety of exhibitions, publications, competitions, forums, and celebrations, that engage the architectural profession, its sister disciplines, and the public. TSA strives to promote and advance the role of architecture and design in Toronto’s dynamic community.

Architecture Canada RAIC | IRAC

Architecture Canada | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is the leading voice of architecture in Canada. The organization seeks to build awareness and appreciation of the contribution of architecture to the physical and cultural well-being of Canadians. Their mission is: to affirm that architecture matters; celebrate the richness and diversity of architecture in Canada; and support architects in achieving excellence.

Backyard Design

Backyard Design created the visual identity and website for the Green Line Ideas Competition. Backyard Design is a graphic design company that provides design and art direction services for print, web and digital media applications. Their wallpaper design for W Hotel was featured in Azure Magazine and they won an Applied Arts Design Award in 2011. Their clients include textile designer Bev Hisey, the Cornell School of Architecture, the Drake Hotel, MJM Architects and Third Uncle Design.

4. Details

Selection criteria

Evaluation of submissions will be based on:
Design innovation of the proposal in response to the competition objectives
Responsiveness of the proposal to the site and its context
Quality and clarity of presentation materials


The jury will award $6000 CDN in cash prizes for the competition as below:

Competition A – Green Line Vision
The first place prize is $3000, second place is $1,000 and third place is $500.

The prizes for Competition A are made possible through the generous support of the Ontario Association of Architects.

Competition B – Green Line Underpass Solution
The Astley Gilbert First Place Prize is $1,000 and second place is $500.

The prizes for Competition B are made possible through the generous support of Astley Gilbert who are also the competition’s print sponsor.


The competition is open to anyone not specifically excluded. Exclusions: The firms, partners, and professional associates of the jurors and the competition organizers are enjoined from participating in the competition. If it is determined that a competitor is in any material way related to a juror or to a competition organizer, that competitor's project will be disqualified.

Everyone involved with this competition must comply with the conditions and procedures laid out in these instructions. Failure to do so will lead to immediate elimination from the process.

Please note: Competitors can submit to both competition streams, but only one entry per competition stream will be accepted from an individual or team member.


The organizers of this competition will protect the integrity of its process vigorously. Competitors must not communicate with the jury about the competition in any way until a public announcement of the winners is made. Any competitor or juror found in active violation of this rule will be disqualified immediately by the Professional Advisor, whose decision is final.

Competitors will be required to submit a Green Line Ideas Competition registration form as part of their entry. The jury will not see this registration form. All entries must be submitted without any marks, logos, insignia, or writing on the display surfaces that identify their authorship. Failure to comply with this rule will lead to immediate disqualification. Only at the end of the judging will the names of the competitors be revealed to the jury.

Ownership and copyright

All materials submitted to the competition become the property of Workshop Architecture Inc. and will not be returned. Workshop Architecture Inc. retains worldwide rights to publish and exhibit all entries (see “Exhibition and publication” below). Each Competitor will retain full copyright of all their materials unless otherwise assigned. Each team retains the right to publish and exhibit their own entry.

Exhibition and publication

Workshop Architecture Inc. intends to exhibit a selection of competition entries in a number of venues which may include online, in print, in a gallery and outdoors in a park within the Green Line competition site. Further, we also intend to publish winners and selected entries to the competition in Spacing. In any exhibition, publication, or website, we will make every effort to properly credit the appropriate competitors. Since Workshop Architecture Inc. retains ownership of all competition materials (see "Ownership and copyright" above), we reserve the right to utilize them in any publication or promotional endeavour in perpetuity, and without compensation to the entrants.

5. Schedule

Competition opens: 4 December 2012
Questions deadline: 7 January 2013
Submissions due: 4 February 2013deadline extended to 11 Feb 2013
Winners are announced: 4 May 2013


All questions regarding the competition should be forwarded to by 7 January 2013. Questions and answers will be posted on the competition website by 14 January 2013.


All submissions must be received by email by 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on 11 February 2013, otherwise they will be disqualified. Please note that Workshop Architecture Inc. will not take any responsibility for email problems or any other technical issues.

6. Submission requirements

Competition A – Green Line Vision

Please provide the following:

1. Two 24” x 36” presentation boards (landscape format, to be presented side by side) to describe your proposal. Please provide these as one high resolution PDF file, minimum 150 dpi.
The boards can include any of the following:
a) Conceptual statement under 200 words
b) Plans, sections, elevations, sketches, 3D renderings and/or photographs
c) No marks identifying the entrants shall appear on the presentation boards.

PLEASE NOTE: The boards will be printed to 11x17 for the jury session, so please ensure they are legible at this size.

2. Complete, print, sign and scan the Registration Form as a PDF document and send it in the same email with the competition submission, but as a separate file. The Registration Form and its contents will NOT be shared with the jury.

3. To be eligible for the Green Line Ideas Competition, the team lead must be a member of the Toronto Society of Architects. Membership with the TSA is open to anyone. Student memberships are $25 CDN. Full memberships are $50 CDN.

Competition B – Green Line Underpass Solution

Please follow the submission requirements as above. The only change is that entries are limited to one 24" x 36" presentation board. The board must be in landscape format.

Send entries to:
Please send entries using