Claude Cormer et Associés are rock stars in the world of landscape architecture. They’re also really good with sidewalks, grass, hills, fountains and art—renowned as experts in designing city parks where people instantly feel they belong.
“It is so amazing to see a park when there are people and animation, and kind of a great spirit. We love that. We create a sense of place, an urban refuge that feels safe and inclusive,” says Claude Cormier, Principal Landscape Architect at Claude Cormier et Associés.
“It’s all about collaboration,” Cormier says. “That’s what you need to bring a park like this to life. “It’s about understanding each teams’ expertise and celebrating what each person can bring.”
Warehouse Park is a dramatic undertaking. The park will transform 1.47 hectares of surface parking lot area into a beautiful and vibrant green space the size of two football fields in the heart of downtown Edmonton.
It’s a unique project and one Cormier stresses needs the expertise of the three firms.
“It is not a simple thing to create a park in existing infrastructure,” Cormier says. “So we are greening it up as much as possible. We are going to bring trees, soil, pathways. We want this to be a connector.”
An Edmonton point of view
Known for high-profile projects in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Kingston and Chicago, Cormier’s team is looking to bring something unique to Edmonton, something he says will take risks and bring a bit of a bit of the unknown.
“There is a feeling of an underground culture in Edmonton.” Cormier says “There is something quite charming about that. There is a cool factor and we want to bring that into the design.”
This will be the first park Cormier’s team has designed in Edmonton. The three firms are looking to introduce a space that will draw people downtown, both to visit as well as work and live.
“The park will become a catalyst for future development in downtown Edmonton,” he says. “We may not have the user density yet, but that is going to come.”
For Cormier’s team, it’s important for the space to feel authentic. They don’t want signs in the park to limit the experiences park-goers imagine for themselves.
“It’s important to design to allow flexibility of use. Not everything needs to be prescribed. So the way we work is to allow for flexibility,” he says.
Over-programming the park is what the team knows it has to avoid.
“We need to provide good bones for the park to allow for future growth,” says Cormier. “A park has a life and is going to keep growing and developing.”
The process of designing an inclusive space and considering the wants and needs of users is a “tennis game,” Cormier says, a back-and-forth process that takes time.
“We are interested in substance,” he says. “We want to create spaces that are timeless, elegant, flexible. We are creating something that will age well and be well utilized.”
The stage is set for gh3* Architecture, Claude Cormier et Associés and AECOM to create a space downtown as unique as Edmoton itself. Public engagement on the design for Warehouse Park is coming this fall. The Warehouse Park project is funded through the Downtown Community Revitalization Levy and construction is tentatively scheduled for 2024-25. The park is expected to open in 2025.
Editor’s note: The photo at the top of this post shows Claude Cormier, left, at the opening of the redesigned Berczy Park in Toronto in 2017. Credit: Industryous Photography