The Toronto Star's Chris Hume reports today that Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square is finally seeking submissions for a radical redesign of this once loved now tired and worn civic space. Created in 1965 by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, the Square serves today as a sad example of how not to build a public space.
Hume cites several examples of where the Square goes wrong - the fenced off grassy strip along Bay, the concrete blob that is the skate hire, the Peace Garden that nobody ever visits - and provides some useful suggestions on how to make it better - e.g. incorporate a raised stage, remove the overhead walkway.
I would also suggest adding a little more nature into the centre of the city. Toronto's square mile has precious little greenery to lie back in, so why not add a little running water and a tree canopy into the mix?
I have written about how to create successful public spaces before and there's no doubt that Nathan Phillips is perfectly positioned to capture the single most important ingredient for this - people. All we need to do now is give them a reason to stick around.
I'm pleased to see Toronto acknowledging another of its Achilles heels (see proposed Queens Quay makeover and Gardiner Expressway improvements) and am very much look forward to seeing the redesign proposals, coming to a newspaper near you in March, 2007.
Here's hoping some of these ideas become realities.
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