The Markham Municipal Building must allow daily operations to proceed with efficiency, dignity and decorum. It must provide the framework and tools for public events and community gatherings, and must project a coherent and identifiable image.
Not a town hall, but a "hall for the town" is the concept's nucleus. It takes the recognizable architectural form of a hall that is accessible and responsive to people's needs. The council chamber, encased in glass, animates the hall and conveys the spirit of a democratic government. A winter garden surrounding the chamber provides an appropriate backdrop for a community with a love of gardens. Rather than surrounding the hall and council chamber, two flanking administrative wings are distinct architectural forms, continuing the theme of reaching out to the community.
The site's major walkway respects both the existing school and theatre, passing their front doors to culminate in the pre-eminent civic space, the hall for the town. The administration's north facade—the "winter wall"—is constructed of granite, with punched window openings, to keep out winter winds and symbolize permanence and strength. This wall, which takes its directional cue from nearby Highway 7, is also the administration's major service/circulation spine. The "summer wall" extends the feeling of openness, as transparent glass and the reflective surfaces of mullions and spandrels transmit light. Suspending the wall above grade further emphasizes the sense of accessibility.
Markham's urban/rural mix is an asset; the rural foreground, which anchors the civic centre, fits into the present context and will be an even more welcome oasis of green as urbanization increases.
The hall projects over a traditional civic square, giving it a sheltering backdrop and stage for civic functions. A skating rink laps over the square, while twin towers frame the square's entry and serve as tools for lighting and communications. For informal community events, a "gathering circle" is planned south of the winter wall. Three round, 25 m-high spires, also serving as lighting and communications tools, stand in this circle. A platform designed for a lighting, fireworks, or laser light display will occupy the top length of the winter wall.
Space for future expansion is planned in the first phase; the leasing of this area will make it self-sustaining until needed by the town. Civic development will occur north of the winter wall, west of the civic promenade. Proposed surface parking will move underground.
The jury was also impressed by the bold drama of Moriyama and Teshima's submission, and admired its simplicity. However, the jurors considered that it was less fully resolved in detail than either of the other two schemes and that it related less successfully to the site's other buildings. In one case, they noted that views of the theatre were completely obscured. There was considerable doubt as to whether the bold symbolic image was the most appropriate for Markham.
(From jury report)
5 scanned / 2 viewable
- Photograph of Model