March 9, 2007
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Images courtesy Plant Architect.
The city of Toronto announced yesterday that a joint venture between local firms Plant Architect and Shore Tilbe Irwin won the design competition for a $34 million revitalization of Nathan Phillips Square. This 12-acre civic space surrounding Toronto’s city hall has remained essentially unchanged since the iconic Modernist building by Finnish architect Viljo Revell was completed in 1965.
Nathan Phillips Square currently features a large ornamental pool that serves as a skating rink during winter months. Plant and Shore Tilbe Irwin’s revamp will retain the pool, adding more concessions as well as a new, permanent outdoor stage and public pavilion. More significant, the scheme creates new landscaping and trees along the square’s edges, as well as garden atop the roof of the oval-shaped city council chamber. Public access to this roof had been closed for some time.
Eric Haldenby, who chaired the Nathan Phillips Square jury, praised the plan for “respecting and restoring the beauty and dignity of architect Viljo Revell’s vision, while preserving and enhancing its unique heritage qualities.”
Plant Architect’s other major projects include a conceptual master plan for revitalization the New Jersey Meadowlands, while Shore Tilbe Irwin specializes in large institutional and public projects.
Out of an original field of more than 40 firms who submitted designs for the Nathan Phillips Square competition, the three other finalists were: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, of Toronto; a partnership between Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect, of New York City, as well as du Toit Allsop Hillier, of Toronto; and Zeidler Partnership Architects, of Toronto.
Jurors included Haldenby as well as former Toronto mayor David Crombie, author Michael Ondaatje, and Frances Halsband, of R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects, in New York City.