CATHEDRAL SQUARE - a second look

Discussion in 'Buildings, Architecture & Urban Design' started by 3Dementia, May 16, 2011.

  1. 3Dementia

    3Dementia Senior Member

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    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:
    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2008/05/23/from-an-amateur-a-bold-vision-for-a-forgotten-corner-of-east-toronto.aspx


    RENDERING

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    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.

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    A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSION:

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  2. sodapop

    sodapop Active Member

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    that would be so sweet!!!! i think something like that will probably get built at some point, hopefully soon
     
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  3. BoAd

    BoAd BoAd

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    Any new square in Toronto should be at a 15-30º 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.
     
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  4. junctionist

    junctionist Senior Member

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    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: May 19, 2011
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  5. Redroom Studios

    Redroom Studios Senior Member

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    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...
     
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  6. Edward

    Edward Senior Member

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    Surprised this parking lot is still a parking lot.
     
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  7. TonyV

    TonyV Senior Member

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    All well and good; excellent concept, but there is this pressing problem: Toronto has demonstrated, amply, that it doesn't know how to deal with, use, or relate to a public square. It seems to me that square abuse is in our dna.
     
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  8. 3Dementia

    3Dementia Senior Member

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    ^ can't argue with that.

    But this idea "almost" got an audience for a minute or two (yippee). I realize that the "experts" get to design* Toronto, not the amateurs. This is little more than a scribble but it was an informed scribble - european sensibility in Toronto? Check. Huge downtown blank canvas? Check. No food, coffee, shopping in Toronto public spaces? Check.

    Private ownership? Check. Developers willing to look at inviting the public into their "residential" property. Probably no Check.

    Decision-makers willing to listen to an outside thought, idea, concept..... No Check.

    Reasons to do this sort of time-consuming exercise? None. But it has a doodle-art kinda of calming effect. ;-)

    P.S. Thanks Redroom. Junctionist, drop your pants in public and see what everyone else thinks of your bum. ;-)
     
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  9. 3Dementia

    3Dementia Senior Member

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    dbl post
     
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  10. TonyV

    TonyV Senior Member

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    ^ I wouldn't want you to misunderstand me, 3Dementia, I love your idea. It's just that I am so disgusted with the powers-that-be in city hall. I think that everyone I know in the general populace would love another square, a good one as you've suggested, but city hall just doesn't get it. In fact, Yonge-Dundas Square had to reinvent itself as a parking lot with a hard playing surface to get the go-ahead. Oh, I when I stop banging my head against a brick wall things will feel just fine.
     
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  11. Towered

    Towered Senior Member

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    I really wish this could be made a reality somehow, but I fear that Toronto isn't ready for visions along these lines...after all, we did vote in a suburban minded mayor who has zero interest in such things. Not to rag on him exclusively though, the fact that our two most important public squares are nothing but grey concrete slabs say a lot about our culture, one that he grew up in.
     
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  12. TonyV

    TonyV Senior Member

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    This is getting close to another debate on public spaces and how they are undervalued in Toronto, etc. etc. and Towered has reminded us again that Toronto voted for a detractor.

    ... I went for a huge long walk this afternoon, through downtown, and beheld the enormous improvements that have occurred in Toronto over the past 10 years, for example the fabulous Bloor stretch (new sidewalks and planters) - but there is much work to be done, i.e. Yonge St., and it's difficult for me to comprehend how anyone can oppose public space improvements; I wish our elected officials would realize that these beautifications are an investment that can pay real dividends for the city.

    I tell my friends, "it's just a phase we're going through".
     
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  13. monetto

    monetto New Member

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    I like the concept of a public square, but...

    I really don't think that one would work in that location, especially in the form in which you envisioned it.

    This is only my humble (student) opinion, but the reality is that that parking lot abuts no large public/cultural/entertainment institutions, so it is not a destination in itself. Furthermore, there is no large thoroughfare going through that lot (except for Queen, which borders only one of the shorter sides) so this space is not a place which receives a high volume of traffic.

    Since this place is neither a destination in itself, nor does it get a great deal of traffic, the only way to get that sort of activity would be to dedicate a large portion of the parking lot to employment and hope that restaurants and boutiques would follow. Chances are we'll see some nondescript condo building go up on that lot sometime in the future. I'd say forget about this one and focus on a more centrally located plaza.
     
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  14. RC8

    RC8 Senior Member

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    More centrally located than this? You must be joking. This place is a 10 minute walk from the financial district, and a 10 minute walk from yonge and dundas.

    This would be a dream come true. I have always maintained that this is exactly what Toronto is lacking - a proper European style square.

    The parking lot at Liberty village is another good candidate for it, but it'd be more of an attraction to go to and not so encrusted in the city itself. This would be fantastic.

    Please someone make it happen.
     
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  15. Tewder

    Tewder Senior Member

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    Great job but I just don't see this as happening, and I don't really see it as a very Toronto space. How long before the fountain is broken and left that way?

    I think a public square on Queen West at Soho (where the parking lot beside the Black Bull is) might work better because the crowds are already there and there is always a lively atmosphere in the area... and the feel would be less 'monumental' which Toronto really doesn't do well.
     
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