In the spring of 2007, PLANT Architect Inc. won the international competition to redesign the iconic Nathan Phillips Square and Podium at Toronto City Hall in joint venture with Perkins+Will Canada, and with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architect, and Adrian Blackwell Urban Projects. The Podium Roof Garden is the first transformation in the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization entitled AGORA/THEATRE. This three-acre, upper-level component of the 1965 iconic City Hall was originally conceived by the Finnish architect Viljo Revell as a public ceremonial space made accessible by a giant sculptural ramp. This space proved to be a grim, paved void, remaining closed to the public for over a decade. Today, this heritage site is the largest publicly accessible green roof garden in Canada. It serves as the flagship green roof project for the City of Toronto, and has been recognized as a leading example of the city’s award-winning Green Roof By-Law.
The project fulfils the original potential of Revell’s design by creating a place for gathering, ceremony, and where one can admire the towers’ fine architectural detail. This lush metropolitan haven has now become a site for intimacy, lingering and strolling, large-scale art installations, and wedding chapel gatherings. The Podium is organized with a black-granite paved courtyard, a long curving bench that frames the Council Chamber, a striped café that occupies the prow, a perimeter walk and walk that borders the towers with custom concrete pavers, furniture and lighting, a vast garden, and a raised tree planter that beckons visitors up from the main Square—its three Kentucky Coffee trees providing shade as they grow to a mature height of 40 feet.
Inspired by Paul Klee’s Polyphony (1932), the garden features a complex mosaic of 23 sedum species inter-planted with 42 species of grasses and perennials—the colours progressing from brighter yellows and oranges in the SW to deeper reds and purples in the NE reflecting orientation and shade conditions.
Landscape Architecture: PLANT Architect inc
Project Title: Nathan Phillips Square Podium Roof Garden
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Design Year: 2007
Completion Year: 2010
Area: 11,000 m2
Image Credits: Photographs by Steven Evans | © PLANT Architect Inc.