The all-new Nathan Phillips Square

The city of Toronto has announced the winner of the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization Competition. The winning team, chosen from 48 international entries, is comprised of Toronto firms PLANT Architect and Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners. The team also includes Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture (landscape architect, Chicago), Adrian Blackwell (design collaborator, Toronto), Blackwell Bowick Partnership (structural engineer, Toronto) and Crossey Engineering (mechanical and electrical engineers, Toronto).

Nathan Phillips Square is the premier public space and civic gathering place for Torontonians, a national and provincial landmark, and a leading tourist attraction for the city. Revitalizing the Square is part of the city’s effort to beautify and restore its public spaces in order to foster a renewed sense of civic pride among Torontonians and to inspire new development in the city.

“The Plant Architect Inc. & Shore Tilbe Irwin design best fulfills the guiding principles and design opportunities for Nathan Phillips Square as set out in the competition brief,” said Eric Haldenby, chair of the competition jury. “The team has imaginatively re-invented elements of the Square, enhanced the experience of the public realm and integrated exemplary new sustainable design approaches.”

The $40-million project will be designed to LEED Gold Certification and includes a new public pavilion at the southwest corner of the Square with facilities to support an ice rink and a two-level restaurant, a food concession area, a roof terrace overlooking the Square. A glass pavilion will be constructed at Queen and Bay Streets, with an elevator providing access to the overhead walkway and underground bicycle and car parking, a new stage structure with a roof canopy, a relocated and redesigned entry to the underground PATH system along Queen Street, and a larger Peace Garden with a birch grove and reflecting pool in the western landscaped area of the Square.

The landscaping along the edges of the Square has been redesigned by increasing the number of trees, planting mixed tree species and utilizing an improved soil planting medium. A variety of sustainable design concepts linked to Toronto’s Green Standard have been implemented in the design. They include a soil regeneration strategy, increased biomass and number of trees, facilities for cyclists, improved pedestrian environment, control of light pollution, energy efficient design, renewable energy features, opportunities for public education, attention to the on-site microclimate and local sourcing of materials.