Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

National Urban Design Awards — 2016 Recipient

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization
Toronto
ON
Award Category: 
National Urban Design Awards
Civic Design Projects

PLANT Architect Inc. | Perkins + Will Canada in Joint Venture, with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architecture and Adrian Blackwell Urban Projects

Viljo Revell’s Toronto City Hall (1965) is a well-loved Modernist icon. In 2006, the City of Toronto launched an international redesign competition for its 12-acre civic space, Nathan Phillips Square, which had become run-down and dysfunctional over time. Targeting LEED Gold, the winning design involved strategically rethinking the heritage-designated square to transform it into an exemplary 21st century public space. Through the redesign or relocation of existing elements and a new series of buildings and gardens framing the open space, the revitalization enhances the functionality, versatility and appeal of Toronto’s signature civic space while augmenting its “connectedness” to its surroundings.

Jury Comment(s): 

"The jury found this project to be exemplary in a number of different ways. Fundamentally it is a successful revitalization of a civic heart that draws people in with an enduring, timeless, restrained intervention. The project is also technically very demanding as a green roof, and it successfully repairs the damage done in previous renovations to this important Modernist Toronto landmark. The design of the edges is effective in artfully responding to different conditions. One of the moments of public use presented by the design team is the spontaneous tributes to Jack Layton that members of the public wrote in chalk on all accessible surfaces in the plaza. The event is unique in urban history, and although it was fleeting, user created and washed away with the first rain, it showed the symbolic importance of the plaza as a primary place of civic expression in the city. The design, with freestanding “Toronto” sign, seems to have supplanted every other symbol of the City of Toronto. The jury also noted that the plaza has become a place in which people from all walks of life feel safe intermingling and talking."

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Photo: Steven Evans

Photo: Steven Evans

Photo: Steven Evans

Photo: Steven Evans

Photo: Steven Evans

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