Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization

Location -

Toronto, Ontario

Project Start Date -

July 2013

Project Completion Date -

December 2014

City of Toronto commissioned the redesign and revitalization of Nathan Phillips Square, the foremost public space in Toronto, following a competition in 2007. Work was to be completed prior to the Pan Am Games of 2015 to host live events and showcase the site.

Toronto contracted Four Seasons to redevelop and modernize the square and related structures to enhance functionality, appearance, address environmental issues, and improve public access and overall experience.

Key challenges for this project included:

  • Extremely high profile. The geographic, functional and cultural significance of the site meant that thousands of unofficial “site inspectors” visited daily throughout the project. A multitude of diverse stakeholders with competing priorities and influence, and substantial political significance.
  • Importance of the site to the Pan Am Games of 2015. Heightened pressure upon scope, schedule, all stakeholders and project participants.
  • Supporting the four-level underground garage to permit heavy equipment and materials above. Neither client nor City of Toronto Parking had specs, requiring FS to carry out structural engineering and design to support equipment, and redesign processes to continue work without damage to garage.
  • High citizen engagement. Movement of Winston Churchill statue attracted interest and involvement of Winston Churchill Society, and required communication process to explain how, where and why the statue would be moved, and invite their input.
  • Licensed street vendors. Licenses guaranteed access to designated site areas, requiring work to be designed and scheduled around them.
  • Brazil wood benches in design. Materials proved difficult to work with and source, requiring shipping at great distance and cost.
  • Integration of modern and existing elements. Location of new elements alongside legacy structures required careful planning and heritage restoration work.
  • Maintaining public access to majority of site. Presence of near constant vehicle and pedestrian traffic required a sophisticated, phased process to work around.

Safety record: No lost time accidents recorded on project.


  • Governor General’s Medal in Architecture (May 2016)
  • National Urban Design Awards - Civic Design Projects (April 2016)