Denver-based landscape architecture firm Civitas and Edmonton, Alberta–based consulting firm Stantec won the Back to the River design competition challenging architecture firms to transform the Thames River landscape in downtown London, Ontario. The winning proposal, "Ribbon of the Thames", features a number of new ways to access the river throughout the year, including an ice-skating arena, new multi-use pathways and bridges, and a performing arts center. The design specifically focuses on reviving the neighborhood Fork of the Thames River.
The London Community Foundation, a charity organization which funds local projects, partnered with the city and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority to launch the competition in May. A judging panel led by former Mayor Joni Baechler narrowed down the 19 initial entries to five shortlisted teams in July, and then selected Civitas and Stantec as the winners on Monday.
The city will award Civitas and Stantec a design contract for at least $200,000 to further develop their plans for an initial project to improve the Fork of the Thames River. The team's design currently includes public terraces, a bio-filtered wetland, and an outdoor plaza with patio seating. The project is estimated to cost between $4 million and $8 million, and could be realized if the city council decides to finance it during upcoming budget talks. According to The Londoner, John Fleming, the chief city planner, said that construction could begin as early as next year and be completed by 2018.
The entire proposal, whose phases reach to 2030, is estimated to cost $39 million and would not be totally funded by the city. A committee created by the city council will "consider endorsing the overall plan as a long-range vision for enhancement of this portion of the Thames River corridor," the city's manager of environmental and parks planning, Andrew Macpherson, wrote in an email to ARCHITECT. "This master plan aligns nicely with the city’s overall vision for the 50-kilometer Thames Valley Corridor through London."