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March 8, 2007
Plant Architect and Shore Tilbe Irwin wins Nathan Phillips Square Design Competition
The Competition Jury for the Nathan Phillips Square Design Competition tonight announced the selection of Plant Architect Inc. & Shore Tilbe Irwin, Toronto as the winning team in the international design competition to revitalize the City’s most important public space.

“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.”

“In reaching our decision, we noted how the winning submission respects and restores the beauty and dignity of architect Viljo Revell’s vision, while preserving and enhancing its unique heritage qualities,” continued Haldenby.

Mayor David Miller said, “The Competition Jury members faced a challenging task in selecting a winner and I am delighted with their decision. On behalf of all Torontonians, I would like to congratulate Plant Architect Inc. & Shore Tilbe Irwin for their bold design. It will ensure that Nathan Phillips Square remains a place of public pride for all Torontonians.”

“On behalf of the City of Toronto and its residents, I wish to thank the jury for its thoughtful deliberations in reaching this milestone decision. The three other finalists should be commended for their wonderfully creative efforts,” said Miller.

The winning design is based on the idea that Nathan Phillips Square has always acted as an agora, the ancient Athenian place of public and political exchange. The theme clearly defines the inner open space of theatre and square – a theatre for the city, where planned and unforeseen events are encouraged, and a square surrounded by a forested perimeter.
The winning scheme includes:

  • a new public pavilion at the southwest corner of the Square with rink support facilities, a food concession, washrooms and a generous upper level roof terrace overlooking the Square;
  • a two-level restaurant in the southwest portion of the Square with seasonal outdoor patio and terrace dining and elevator access to the overhead walkway and adjacent public roof terrace;
  • a new glass pavilion at Queen and Bay Streets with a tourist information kiosk and elevator providing access to the overhead walkway and underground bicycle and car parking;
  • a versatile new stage structure with an elegant roof canopy, wide stairs leading to the elevated walkways and performance support space connected below grade;
  • redesigned landscaping along the edges of the Square and the west side by increasing the number of trees, planting mixed tree species and utilizing an innovative and improved soil planting medium;
  • a wide variety of sustainable design achievements linked to Toronto’s Green Standard such as: a soil regeneration strategy; improved tree planting conditions and increased biomass and number of trees; facilities for cyclists and promotion of cycling; improved pedestrian environment; controlling light pollution; energy efficient design; renewable energy features; opportunities for public education; attention to the on-site microclimate; and local sourcing of materials;
  • a larger and enhanced Peace Garden with a birch grove and reflecting pool at a new location in the western landscaped area of the Square;
  • animating the podium roof of City Hall with a perimeter landscaped garden, a courtyard framing the Council Chamber and a café at the prow;
  • extending the paving from the Square to the newly landscaped Queen Street forecourt;
  • a relocated and redesigned entry to the underground PATH system along Queen Street;
  • upgrading the overhead walkways with wood decking, seating, glass balustrades, light wells and improved access; and
  • a seasonal disappearing water fountain feature in the centre of the Square.

“Four excellent submissions were received and the creative ideas expressed gave the jury a full range of approaches to consider,” remarked Peter Ortved, of CS&P Architects and Professional Advisor overseeing the competition. “The design submitted by Plant Architect Inc. & Shore Tilbe Irwin reflects a vision for Nathan Phillips Square that will take us into the future with renewed pride in this highly regarded public place.”

The three other competition finalists were: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, Toronto; Rogers Marvel Architects, New York, Ken Smith Landscape Architect, New York, du Toit Allsop Hillier, Toronto; and Zeidler Partnership Architects, Toronto.

Eric Haldenby, Chair of the Competition Jury, is Director of the University of the Waterloo School of Architecture. The other five jury members are: Dinu Bumbaru, internationally recognized heritage architect from Montreal; David Crombie, former Mayor of Toronto and President and CEO of The Canadian Urban Institute; Frances Halsband, architect and partner in the New York firm of R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects; Cornelia Oberlander, distinguished landscape architect from Vancouver; and Michael Ondaatje, world-renowned author and resident of Toronto.

The design competition is part of the Toronto Government’s efforts to beautify and restore its public spaces. The City has made a $16-million financial commitment and is seeking an additional $24 million in contributions from other levels of government, the private sector and the business community for Nathan Phillips Square’s revitalization and restoration.

For more information about the competition, visit

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Peter Ortved, Professional Advisor, CS&P Architects, 416-482-5002
Sheila Glazer, Manager, Strategic Policy & Projects, Facilities & Real Estate Division,



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