Winning submission to the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization Competition by:

PLANT Architect Inc.

Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners

Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture Inc.

Adrian Blackwell

the full team >

Agora·Theatre won a 2007 Toronto Urban Design Award and a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.

Nathan Phillips Square – Daytime Overview

Nathan Phillips Square has always acted as an agora, the ancient Athenian place of public and political exchange, but also claims the dual functions of theatre, the place of focused gathering, and square. The porch (stoa) that surrounded the Athenian agora, provided a programmed threshold between the square’s openness and the adjacent private spaces for intimate debate. Revell’s multileveled scheme was bereft of this crucial programmatic support.

AGORA/THEATRE clearly defines the interior space of theatre and square – a theatre for the city – where planned and unforeseen events are encouraged, against a vast forested perimeter of intimate programmed green rooms:

Open the Square

The openness of Nathan Phillips Square is the source of its democratic power. By removing the clutter, the Square is left as a space of pure potential for a vast range of interactions and events. A new stage will act as a fourth element added to the existing composition of iconic elements – Council Chamber, Freedom Arches, and Ceremonial Ramp – while the surface of the Square will be animated by light, “disappearing” fountains, and  seating.

Program a porous perimeter with green rooms

The new-forested perimeter (increasing trees by 30% – by 60% on the perimeter)  is a container for a host of programmes: the Queen Street forecourt, Peace Garden, Treetop restaurant, entry/bike pavilion, playground and chip trucks. A unique soil support system allows for maximum paving, trees, and a storm water sponge to ensure a healthy forest legacy .

Activate the stoa as a threshold

New trees will provide shade and enclosure, new pavings, benches, linear gardens, and openings provide a rich texture and connectivity between upper and lower walkways, the Square, and the revitalized podium. New elevators, stairs, and ramps will double the connections between the levels of the Square.

Organize the existing architecture to bridge the threshold

The stage is reconceived as a permanent public landscape acting as a stair and terrace, connecting the walkways to the Square, serving as bleachers for small performances and a stage for larger ones. The skate pavilion, restaurant and entry kiosk all plug into the mulit-levels.

< full text : view plans >

The Bike and Info Kiosk from Queen & Bay

The open square with “disappearing” fountain and benches

View Westward along the Queen Street elevated Walkway

View of the inside of the Queen Street walkway with new glass railing

The restaurant forecourt on Queen Street

Inside the Restaurant looking South

View of the Skate Pavilion and Restaurant from the Northeast

View of the Peace Garden from the North

View of the Theatre Terrace and Skate pavilion from the Northeast

The Podium at Night

The new PATH connection

The reopened observation deck

The Square at Night

The Competition Team

PLANT Architect Inc.

Chris Pommer, Lisa Rapoport, Mary Tremain, Heather Asquith, Jane Hutton, Renée Kuehnle, Lisa Moffitt, Elise Shelley, Olivia Mapué

Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners

Andrew Frontini, D’Arcy Arthurs, Aaron Cheng, Aimee Drmic, Emily Maclennan, Talal Rameh

Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Inc.

Peter Schaudt, Jessica Ortega, Lybra Lindke, Geoffrey Valentino

Adrian Blackwell

Geoffrey Turnbull, Alan Kwan, Marcin Kedzior


Blanche Lemko van Ginkel

Enermodal Engineering Limited

Stephen Carpenter, Braden Kurczak

Theatre Projects Consultants

Brian Hall

Blackwell Bowick Partnership Limited

Christian Bellini, David Bowick

Crossey Engineering Ltd.

Wallace Eley, Ion Luh, Andrew Pratt

Vermeulens Inc.

James Vermeulen, Anthony Lizzi

Urban Trees + Soil

Jim Urban

CMS Collaborative Inc.

BusyBee Services

ICON Landscape Architecture

Michael Bartosik

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