Dundas Square sits amidst a newly revitalized an highly animated entertainment and retail district. Sitting above the underground parking garage, the plaza is raised 2 feet above the street, defining a public stage.
A zone along the Yonge Street edge of the square remains at street level which mirrors the informal public space in front of the Eaton Centre at the south-west corner of Yonge and Dundas and connects with it visually.
The plinth itself is a `horizontal billboard'; a floor composed of transparent, translucent and solid materials lit from below and further animated on its surface with graphics and text relating to events and activities in the area. This animated `walkable sign' also serves the function of drawing light below into the parking structure.
The perimeter of the site is set back with benches, trees and other planting at the street level where people will stop to relax, buy a coffee, eat their lunch, watch the street or view a performance.
Individual pavilion structures serving different functions of the program further define the boundaries of the site on both the Dundas Street and the Dundas Square sicles. Set along the these two zones, the entrances to Dundas station, the PATH network, and the parking garage, as well as ventilation shafts, the T.O. TIX ticket outlet, and tourist information kiosks can all be accessed from both the street level and the plaza. These structures serve to further enliven the square, both day and night, as well as creating a visual gateway through the plaza from Yonge Street to Victoria Street.
At night, the `horizontal billboard' adds to the lively environment with an interactive display of lights and images. At different locations around the plaza the public is encouraged to participate by playing with interactive lighting displays and projections of video images from taken from the square itself and around the world. These features would may operate either in connection with or independent of events in the area. To further accentuate the ephemeral quality of the space the plinth floats on a continuous band of light along the underside of its edge.
The scheme presents a strong image, derived from the surrounding area, hence it conveys a sense of place. an atmosphere. It appears that it would be fun to be there. The basic organization is good, the slight raise and the twist in the axis introduce a sense of the exceptional. Here light is a great positive element, nor to be confused with the blur of commercial imagery surrounding the place. This is a public light, it is not about selling something. The project gives breathing space at the corner of Yonge and Dundas. But the site should be twice as big to accommodate everything that has been put in it. There is probably too much event, too many sub-spaces and elements so that things bang into each other. The menu here is too full, one would have to select items from it. The projection system should be rethought, it is simultaneously too intrusive and underdeveloped.
The beauty of this scheme is the use of light as the visual maker and broad invitation to this lively new public space. The slightly raised podium extends equally and democratically across the space, with front doors in all directions and a sense of aspect on the commercial life surrounding the square. Moving the subway entrance significantly south on the site opens up the 100% corner to an inviting public use, and offering a smaller performance and gathering space just where it's needed. The scheme works, it's clear in plan and in section, and it locates a true attraction at the eastern edge, inviting a community previously enjoying no benefits of the Yonge street energy. The designers offer a rich menu of activities and design settings, any two or three of which would define a great public space of energy and potential. At the same time, that is the weakness of the scheme, trying to pack too much into the space and leaving little to the wonderful serendipity of great public spaces.
This scheme could take a site perhaps twice the size. It has a wonderful attitude of super activation and excitement – at the same time perhaps overprogrammed and overdesigned. It could use a bit of deleting and elimination of built-in furnishings.
While the attitude of the square as proposed was engaging and while the glass floor had its admirers, it was strongly felt that the proposal featured too many design events, too much incident – for the size and location of the square. The underground protection system seemed wasteful, cumbersome, expensive and intrusive.
The scheme showed an excellent basic planning of site, particularly the shift in axis and raised podium effect. The use of lit surfaces could create an exciting sense of place and like the southward shift of the subway entrance, improves usability of the corner. There is, however, far too much going on for the size of the space. The pool and stage are inappropriate and the projection lighting Idea seems overreaching – it could be simplified substantially to good effect. The lighting "trees" are excessive impediments to flexibility of use.
(From competition documentation)
20 scanned / 3 viewable
- Presentation Panel
- Presentation Panel
- Presentation Panel