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Thread: CATHEDRAL SQUARE - a second look

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  1. #1

    Default CATHEDRAL SQUARE - a second look

    Three years ago the National Post did an article on my concept for a piazza-style urban meeting place called "CATHEDRAL SQUARE" I thought it might be fun to revisit the idea one more time.... particularly since there appears to a be an "east of Yonge" renaissance underway.

    At the time, Kyle Rae's office professed to be excited about the idea and offered to meet and discuss how it could be championed. After 6 months of trying to get that meeting I gave up (and was subsequently characterized by Kyle as a pain in the ass nag). ;-)

    Suffice to say that I don't think the plethora of "clever" parks (such as Cityplace) are all that welcoming and may not stand the test of time.



    OVERVIEW (key elements)

    Inspired in part by Rome's "Piazza Navona", I think Cathedral Square is the type of dynamic urban space that Toronto is missing... a lively, sunny, animated piazza that will be the focal point of the "east of Yonge" renaissance that has already begun. It's proximity to St. Mike's, Metropolitan United and St. James Cathedral obviously informed the name.

    The super-block parking lot bounded by Shuter, Dalhousie, Queen and Mutual remains in private hands and a number of proposals for the site have surfaced over the past decade or so.

    "Cathedral Square" forms a perfect pedestrian triangle with Nathan Phillips Square to the west and Yonge Dundas Square to the north and would become a key destination for thousands of future residents in neighbouring developments. Toronto's other two urban squares are sorely lacking what "Cathedral Square" offers the public realm... shopping, dining or just relaxing near the signature fountain in a sheltered, sun-washed meeting place.

    The "retro" historical style at grade (inspired by Queen Street to the south) is critical to the square's success... the building materials must be welcoming.

    With the exception of the massive fountain/waterfall, most of the square remains a blank canvas and can host a variety of events in good weather: music, art shows etc.

    -restaurants/cafes with solariums would encouraged to provide in door and outdoor seasonal animation.
    Given the weather/wind protection provided (particularly from the north), sunny winter days should be down right pleasant in the square
    - the eastern Mutual street elevations accomodate small, shallow shops (Starbucks etc.) and offices on the 2nd level.

    -fountain/waterfall is built of laminated glass: a pyramid/obelisk emerges from a random crystalline mass (beautiful in winter too)
    -stoop and scoop in effect

    -a solar in-ground promenade leads to the fountain, powering night-time illumination and all in-ground lights. There is no overhead lighting
    but the ambient light from the sculpture/fountain and surrounding retail will provide plenty of light in the evenings.
    -solar umbrellas - capture the sun by providing shade (adjustable - "turn me to the sun")
    -live/work lofts above the western retail
    -hundreds of parking spaces below the square

    Expanding the existing footprint:
    -Mutual street would be narrowed to 2 lanes and on-street parking elimated (hundreds of space provided under the square
    - the service lane (Dalhousie) would actually weather-protected since the structure on the western side cantilevers over top of the lane.


    I'm off to my aA meeting but they haven't helped much so far (recovery seems out of reach when you are boxed in).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    humber bay


    that would be so sweet!!!! i think something like that will probably get built at some point, hopefully soon
    come check out my photography!


  3. Default

    Any new square in Toronto should be at a 15-30 gradient for better viewing angles for performances. In this case, based on the existing design, the low point should be the fountain, in order to create an amphitheater.

  4. Default

    I love the idea of finally getting a major square onto which many cafes, pubs, and businesses open up. To be honest though, the square in the renderings looks rather dull next to the many innovative ideas for paving, landscaping and art in public spaces out there right now.
    Last edited by junctionist; 2011-May-19 at 01:09.

  5. #5


    I love(d) the concept to do away with the most hideous surface lot in all of downtown. its unfortunate that we dont really have any European style squares in our city, this would remedy that fact. I think to make it happen it would have to be some kind of joint venture between developers and government as developers in this city would only see dollar signs rather than the cultural benefit of such a large expanse of open ground. One other thing complicating your design is the fact of the Jazz condo now being in existance. I can see it was only under construction in the satellite images you used. Very good and visionary work that I am glad to support. The question of how to move it forward of course is the big obstacle...

  6. #6


    Surprised this parking lot is still a parking lot.

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