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The Forks is located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg. In 1988 this former rail yard was acquired by the three levels of government, who created a private corporation to develop the site as a new part of downtown and as a civic showpiece.

Cohlmeyer Architecture was engaged to complete planning and development of the public environment. The project included site planning, development of public space design standards, streetscaping, lighting design, public plazas, the boat basin, the river walk, The Forks Pavilion, the central tensile structure, and an artificial ice rink.

Spaces, and the sequence of environments, were designed to encourage exploration, discovery and provide opportunities for comfortable rest. The site has become the prime visitor attraction in Winnipeg, and now attracts over seven million visits per year.

Between 1995 and 2006 Cohlmeyer Architecture acted as Site Planning Coordinators for this 80-acre site. As planning coordinators, we were responsible for the development of long-term planning and design guidelines, policy development with the Board and the Administration, and review of all projects developed at The Forks. The Forks is a meeting place for the people of Winnipeg. It is a place for many kinds of activities, a place to congregate, and a place to participate in the community life of our city. In large part due to the physical planning and design, a formerly vacant site has become a centre for the city - attracting more than 8 million visits annually.

Two overriding goals govern the physical planning and development of The Forks:

  • The first is that the entire site should be developed as a rich fabric of visual, spatial and social events.
  • The second is that development should be evolutionary; that it respond to evolving perception, possibility and reality; and that it not follow a precise, prescriptive and unachievable Master Plan.

The planning framework, established a basic “skeleton” for movement, services and development. Development within this framework will evolve over time in response to future social and economic realities evaluated and guided by consensus-based priorities and response to evolving conditions.