The Nathan Phillips Square Redesign Competition

   21 February 2007, terribly early in the morning

Shima and I attended the Nathan Phillips Square redesign competition last night. We watched short presentations from each of the 4 finalists. I thought all the finalists were quite good. Any of the designs being implemented would be a big improvement to the space, which is already pretty well used and loved. In particular, I thought the design by Plant Architects, and the one from Rogers Marvel, were particularly good. I’m hoping one of these two teams wins. Marvel’s plan looks simple and uninteresting till you start to hear them talk about what they’ve done and how they’ve changed things. There is a lot in their plan you don’t notice till they point it out. (A nice touch is that they’ve stripped away parts of the walk-way to show off key parts of the square.) Plant’s has a lot of good ideas for utilizing the walkways, and turning pockets of the square into more intimate spaces. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins. I hope the city actually goes through with this plan. I think Nathan Phillips Square is pretty nice as it is, except it’s borders are so ugly: all these plans fix that and then some.

More coverage of the event from: BlogTO, Torontoist, Spacing, and the Toronto Star.



  1. how was the presentation by Zeilder? i have 2 friends who work at Zeilder and did the presentation panels. they also helped with the redesign of the square. one of them was a workaholic – worked 7 days a week at the office. phew!

  2. Zeidler had nice panels; the presentation they gave was a bit too artsy-fartsy for my liking. They want to add movable planters and lights to the square. It’d be pretty assuming the city maintains it.

  3. I agree – the Zeidler plan was a bit cluttered for my tastes. I noticed that everyone kept the arches, which I thought was interesting. I’m submitting a design for the student competition, but I removed/redid the arches… maybe that wasn’t such a good idea!

  4. Shima is supposed to be entering the competition with some of her friends as well. I’m not sure how far along they’ve gotten, or what there plans are for the space though. I think a lot of people must like arches. Whether they are there or not seems like more an issue of aesthetics then of planning to me.

  5. I don’t think you’re allowed to touch the arches (or the elevated walkway) as per the competition brief.

  6. Oh, those pesky guidelines!

    One of my profs advised that for competition purposes it’s ok to ignore the “items to remain”, as long as you can provide something better in its place. Although, I think people like to associate City Hall with the arches…

  7. Stacy, if you don’t mind me asking, what University do you go to?

    My group and I are trying to figure out how legit the student competition is? I tried searching for it online, and even went to the University of Guelph website but couldn’t find anything of substance there either.

  8. Shima, I attend the University of Guelph.

    The information was delivered to us through an email for an open meeting about the competition, where we received nothing more than a flyer. Is there any specific information you are looking for?

  9. Nothing in particular. We just wanted to know how closely to follow the competition brief.

    Do you know who is sitting on the judging panel?

  10. I don’t know, unfortunately, but I’m sure I could easily find out.

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