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AGORA · THEATRE



Project for Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization by:

PLANT Architect Inc. | Perkins+Will Canada · Architects in Joint Venture

the full competition team >


The Podium Roof Garden opened officially on 29 May 2010 as part of Doors Open Toronto.


Work on the Square kicks off 9 April 2010. Projected completion in autumn 2014.



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 competition text : view plans >


View of the Theatre Terrace and Skate pavilion from the Northeast



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 Northwest entry to the Square

View of the Northwest entry to the site from Armoury Street



The restaurant forecourt on Queen Street


View of the Skate Pavilion and Restaurant from the Northeast



View of the Peace Garden from the North



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


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