RESTORATION STARTING AT THE OCULUS
Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)
ACO Toronto and Giaimo are excited to share that with lockdowns lifting we are able to move ahead with The Oculus Revitalization project. Giaimo will be overseeing the restoration process, which will be executed by Walton GC and Colonial Building Restoration. Restoration to the pavilion, which includes cleaning of the building’s exterior, applying anti-graffiti coating, refurbishing the flagstone, and installing new seating, will take place July 5-August 3, 2021. Due to being an active construction site, the pavilion will unfortunately need to be closed off to the public during this time period. South Humber Park and the Humber River Recreational Trail will remain open. Once restored, the pavilion will be ready to host vibrant community programming including walking tours and a temporary on-site exhibit. Designed and curated by ACO Toronto and Giaimo, the on-site exhibit will run from August-September 2021, serving as both a public art installation as well as free educational information, giving the community an opportunity to explore the space and learn about our built heritage. Read the full announcement here.
The Oculus Revitalization is a community-initiative to transform the pavilion into a welcoming gathering place along the Humber River Recreational Trail. Led by ACO and Giaimo, the project is part of Park People’s Public Space Incubator (PSI) Program, funded by the Balsam Foundation and Ken and Eti Greenberg, which encourages and supports the next generation of creative public space projects by providing access to funding and professional networks. The project has received additional funding and support from Friends of the Pan Am Path, HNR Properties, and Creative Silhouettes. The restoration and programming was originally scheduled for 2020, but due to COVID-19 it has been postponed until 2021, while a temporary public art installation, Brighter Days Ahead, was revealed in October 2020.
As a City of Toronto owned building, ACO Toronto and Giaimo have been working closely with Parks, Forestry, and Recreation (PFR) and Heritage Planning (HP) throughout the entire project, and City Council has approved Heritage Grant funding, conditional on the designation. A request for designation was made in 2019 by Councillor Mark Grimes. We’ve also been collaborating with Heritage Toronto on a heritage plaque for the site which is due to be installed following the conclusion of the project in the Fall. A number of artists and arts groups have expressed interest in providing additional community programming at the pavilion once restoration is complete, and we’re excited to share more information on that once available.
Designed in 1958 by architect Alan Crossley and consulting engineer Laurence Cazaly, South Humber Park Pavilion AKA The Oculus is a fantastical space-age park shelter nestled in a meadow along the Humber River Recreational Trail in the City of Toronto’s South Humber Park. While it stands out as a unique modernist structure in Toronto, The Oculus’ sculptural quality and use of concrete is part of a generation of ambitious and optimistic public pavilions built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that can be found scattered throughout the City’s parks system. More details on the pavilion’s history and cultural value can be found in Brown+Storey’s South Humber Park Pavilion Heritage Evaluation Report, which was prepared for Toronto’s City Planning Division in 2019.