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.
HERE'S THE LINK TO THE ORIGINAL NATIONAL POST ARTICLE:
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.
A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSION:
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).