The intent of the design was to create a building with the appropriate image for the town and a pleasant, easy-to-use environment. The building height was kept fairly low to simplify public circulation and interdepartmental communications. On the north side, the structure is only two storeys high, stepping down another floor to the south and following the slope of the land.
The water feature was developed into a lake, which as a major landscaping element, acts as a reflecting pool and visually lends height to the building's south facade and the chamber council located there. In winter, the lake will also provide a large skating surface as an additional community amenity. The landscaping of the public park around the lake is intended to be natural and informal. Man-made mounds were designed to create controlled views of the building from Highway 7 and Warden Avenue.
Visual axes along the approach routes focus on the lake, the building, and the plaza. Parking areas are screened from the building and city streets by berms and planting. To incorporate the existing buildings into the overall scheme, a hard-landscaped civic square was created, linking them to the main ceremonial entrance. The space in the junction between the Markham Theatre and the municipal building was then developed as an amphitheatre, stepping down to the water and serving as an outdoor gathering place for public functions.
The building itself is organized into two main parts: a departmental wing and the municipal executive offices. The different departments are organized into a linear form with multiple public entrances with easy access from the north parking areas. Each department is provided with a public area in one of the three lobbies, thus giving the public direct access to municipal services. Circulation routes were kept simple and a building section was developed to give public lobbies and offices views to the lake.
The main public facilities and municipal executive offices are more compactly grouped at the building's eastern end, and are linked to the department wing by a glass-roofed winter garden off the main lobby. The winter garden steps down to lake level where the chapel, reference library and cafeteria are located. The main lobby also gives access to several committee rooms and leads directly to the semi-circular 200-seat council chamber, supported over the cafeteria below on columns rising from the lake.
The executive wing is the only part of the building above three storeys from lake level. The mayor and councillors have direct elevator access to their offices from an underground parking area. The main service areas of the building are grouped on the north side of the lowest level with access from an underground delivery zone.
The exterior wall of the building will have a reconstructed stone finish in off-white. The sloping roof of the council chamber, the roof of the circular chapel and parts of the roof light structure over the executive wing will be in weathered, copper green metal.
The jury felt that the winning scheme had many outstanding qualities, but was particularly impressed with its imaginative site planning strategy, superb landscape composition, and sensitive incorporation of existing buildings. The jury admired the sequences of views created for the passer-by and members of council and staff in their daily work. The scheme's symbolic image was also considered the most appropriate for the Town of Markham.
The jury held certain reservations about the winning scheme, most notably the fact that the detailed development was not as resolved as that of the Myers' scheme, especially in the main public entrance and the council chamber. This, it was felt, could be refined during the design development.
As far as costs were concerned, the jury noted the quantity surveyor's conclusion that the base buildings for each of the three submissions were over the base budget allowed. However, the jury was confident that the base buildings were capable of being brought within budget in all three cases. As for the costs of the site work, ancillary architectural features, and landscaping, the jury noted the quantity surveyor's opinion that again all three schemes exceed the budget. It was thought likely that a major portion of these three elements could be phased over an extended period. It was the jury's view that the Erickson scheme was initially capable of achieving more of the overall required image than the other two in the event this phasing occurs.
(From jury report)
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- Photograph of Model