Bentway Staging Grounds is a collaboration led by New York-based designer Tei Carpenter and Toronto-based architect Reza Nik.

August 9, 2023 - [Toronto, ON] – Following the recent opening of projects at York Street and Simcoe Street, today The Bentway announced another continuation of its creative work along the Gardiner Expressway. A team led by Tei Carpenter (Agency—Agency, NYC) and Reza Nik (SHEEEP, Toronto) will design new experimental gardens that collect and cleanse rain water from the highway above to feed the growth of flowering native plants below.

Rendering of Bentway Staging Grounds (courtesy of Agency—Agency and SHEEEP)
Rendering of Bentway Staging Grounds (courtesy of Agency—Agency and SHEEEP)

Opening in September 2023, Bentway Staging Grounds is a temporary public space that explores new ways to leverage stormwater runoff from the Expressway to support urban ecology. Visitors will be invited onto a network of elevated walkways to discover resilient strategies for filtration and flood mitigation (strategies that could one day be applied across the length of the Gardiner).

Bentway Staging Grounds responds to the dynamic conditions below the Gardiner, transforming the space into a living laboratory,” says Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway. “The project continues The Bentway’s ongoing work to reposition the Expressway and unlock its creative potential, by revealing the ways in which the existing structure can be leveraged to support new connections, sustainability, and public benefit.”

Designed by Agency—Agency and SHEEEP, with engineering by Buro Happold, graphic design by Neil Donnelly Studio, and horticultural consulting by Brother Nature, Bentway Staging Grounds will feature plant species (including milkweed, agastache, and yarrow) that absorb salts and heavy metals like lead, cadmium and hydrocarbons, along with natural filtration chambers to help remediate excess water. The Expressway’s existing downspout systems are re-deployed to create a new urban infrastructure that works in collaboration with nature.

“It’s a privilege working with The Bentway on Staging Grounds to think creatively about the city’s infrastructure and to center the design of water in the public’s daily experience,” says Tei Carpenter of Agency—Agency. Notes Reza Nik of SHEEEP: "We're really excited to share this project with the city and to see how an underutilized part of our infrastructure can be actively and passively used throughout the year."

Bentway Staging Grounds is presented in a vacant 20,000 sq ft space at Dan Leckie Way and Lake Shore Boulevard, south of Canoe Landing Park and two blocks east of The Bentway’s iconic Skate Trail. The project will help inform both the development of future Bentway spaces under the Gardiner, as well as continued opportunities along the corridor (which runs adjacent to Toronto’s waterfront).

“We continue to partner with The Bentway under the Gardiner to improve the north-south connections to the water,” says Tim Kocur, Executive Director of the Waterfront BIA. “The waterfront neighbourhood is delighted to invite visitors to discover Staging Grounds’ experimental gardens and their strategies for filtration and flood mitigation.”

Bentway Staging Grounds is an interim intervention that will remain in place until the City of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation work commences in the area (currently scheduled for late 2025). Over the project’s two-year duration, The Bentway will commission artists to present original, rotating artworks on a series of scaffolding towers set to line the site facing Lake Shore Boulevard. (Artists to be announced)

Contextual Map

Bentway Staging Grounds, noted in context of other Bentway sites and projects, including Waterfront ReConnect.
Bentway Staging Grounds, noted in context of other Bentway sites and projects, including Waterfront ReConnect.

Bentway Staging Grounds is supported by:

  • Manulife
  • Waterfront Business Improvement Area (BIA)
  • Anonymous [2]
  • CityPlace and Fort York BIA
  • Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin

+ The Bentway’s growing family of friends and supporters

Special thanks to the City of Toronto.

About the Design Team Leads

Agency—Agency ​
Design Team: Tei Carpenter, Jake Rosenwald and Tanya Maneeintr
Agency—Agency is a New York City based architectural design studio led by Tei Carpenter. The studio’s work focuses on cultural and public projects of various scales, including environments, infrastructure, buildings, and exhibitions. It has been featured in publications such as Domus and PIN-UP and was honored with the 2018 AIA New Practices award and the League Prize in 2021. Clients include A/D/O BMW Mini, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and Columbia University. Currently, Tei is a Critic at the Yale School of Architecture.

Design Team: Reza Nik, Connor Stevens, Sam Shahsavani 
SHEEEP is a Toronto-based experimental art and architecture studio led by Reza Nik.




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About The Bentway

The Bentway works “to ignite the urban imagination”, using the city as site, subject, and canvas.

Anchored under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and guiding its complex future, The Bentway is a growing public space, and much more. The Bentway is a new type of civic organization: a not-for-profit, powered by vital partnerships with the City of Toronto, residents, supporters, artists, city-builders, and dreamers. The Bentway is a catalyst rooted in experimentation, leading a creative movement to re-imagine the opportunities of urban spaces. Phase 1 of The Bentway opened in 2018 and is already a vital public space, backyard park, cultural platform, connector for the western Waterfront corridor and a demonstration of what is possible.

 Visit thebentway.ca for details about The Bentway’s programming and activities; and follow on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. #thebentway #beyondconcrete


250 York Blvd., Toronto, ON M5V 3K9