Work on the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization project finally appears to be making some visible progress after several delays and setbacks have pushed the estimated date of completion back by about 18 months. Originally scheduled to be finished this fall, the renovations have been delayed until 2014. The $51 million renewal project by Perkins & Will Canada and Plant Architects for Toronto's most important civic square has also been a controversial subject over its cost, having increased from the original $40 million price tag. Mayor Rob Ford has made it no secret that he doesn't think the City of Toronto should be spending money on the square's renovation, but he hasn't been able to stop its progression. 

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Perkins & Will CanadaNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by rdaner

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Perkins & Will CanadaNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by rdaner


In its current form, Nathan Phillips Square is a barren, uninspiring concrete-clad expanse of nothingness, which inevitably leads the eye to our uniquely-designed City Hall. Maybe that was part of the plan for the square to begin with; designing it in such a manner as to take nothing away from the curved towers of City Hall itself. In any event, if the square feels like it hasn't been touched in the nearly 50 years since it was built, it hasn't. Its austerity may be an appropriate metaphor for the current administration's attitude towards it, but it is a design principle from two generations ago that doesn't serve the needs of 21st century Toronto.

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Perkins & Will CanadaNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by rdaner

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Perkins & Will CanadaNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by rdaner


Civic squares are meant to be gathering places, where people meet and enjoy festivals, farmers markets, outdoor concerts, and attend announcements and protests. Nathan Phillips Square serves that purpose in a strictly utilitarian sense; a central space in the city that can accommodate such events. It isn't however, a place you'd want to hang around in otherwise. The goal of the revitalization project is to (ironically) bring some civility to our civic square, with a new skate pavilion, snack bar, concert stage, public art, furnishings and paving materials, as well as some much-needed green space with attractive landscaping.

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Perkins & Will CanadaNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by rdaner

Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, City of Toronto, Plant ArchitectNathan Phillips Square Revitalization, image by Plant Architect

Many thanks to Forum member rdaner for taking some great pictures of the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization. As work continues on this project, we'd love to see more pictures of its progression. Visit our Forum page and upload your pictures here