George Dark understands there is a great deal of concern, hope, hesitation and anxiety about the future of Lansdowne Park, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It should be a big, tense discussion,” said Dark, an award-winning urban designer and landscape architect who is chairing the three-person Lansdowne Park strategic design review and advisory panel. “Whichever way you do it, you are projecting your capability to the rest of the country and the world. Those are very, very high stakes.”

The panel, unveiled Thursday, also includes Rick Haldenby, the director of the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo since 1988, and Marianne McKenna, an internationally acclaimed architect and founding partner of the Toronto architectural firm KPMB.

The panel will review the design work of the stadium and the commercial space areas and provide suggestions on how to ensure that the entire space works together. Dark and McKenna will also sit on the selection committee for the design competition to deal with the eastern half of the park.

The most important thing to do for the park is to re-establish it as a civic meeting place that residents will be proud to show off to their out-of-town friends.

In its current state, Lansdowne Park is a vast parking lot with a few out-of-date buildings.
As the nation’s capital, Ottawa has a responsibility to stand for the entire country when tourists visit, Dark said.

The city needs to set the bar high for what it wants from the park and reject anything that does not meet that standard, said Dark.