The City of London, Ontario retained Urban Strategies to oversee a two-phase design competition intended to transform the neglected banks of the Thames River into a landmark riverfront landscape. Back to the River sought to link and strengthen existing urban strategic plans through an integrated river-focused design competition. Urban Strategies identified a competition study area — approximately five kilometers of central river corridor radiating out from The Forks in three directions — and established guiding objectives for the competition.
The competition’s first phase attracted 19 submissions from across Canada, the United States, Austria, Spain, and China, from which five teams were short-listed by an eight-person jury of planning and design experts. The five finalist teams prepared high-level plans for the entire study area, area plans for two focus areas, and budgets and renderings for two inaugural projects.
In October 2015, 300 Londoners gathered to hear finalists’ proposals, following which the jury convened to pick a winning design, for which implementation is pending.