The civic square at Guelph’s City Hall is an important gathering space for the community and is host to many events such as music festivals, the Summer Disco Party, Summer Street Party, Canada Day celebrations, Jazz Fest, and ice skating in winter. As part of the revitalization of the city’s historical downtown core, Guelph Market Square was designed to adapt to a variety of uses throughout the year, encouraging residents to rediscover their city and return to the shop, play, and enjoy.
The design stretches across the street, from the building face of City Hall to the face of the adjacent shops and businesses, allowing both entities to benefit from a dynamic public space. A uniform paving strategy creates a cohesive and accessible space, particularly when the road is closed for large scale community events. Curved stone benches provide flexible seating around elliptical stone planters, with LED lighting recessed beneath the coping. Kentucky Coffee trees were used throughout the space, chosen for their unique branching structure and the dappled natural light that filters through their canopy. Silva cell technology was used under the paving on the Carden St. sidewalk to prevent compaction and allow for root growth of the Maple trees that line the streetscape.
The design centres on a large (8,500 square feet) shallow (2” depth) oval water feature that reflects the historic wall of the City Hall and the sky above. Seven programmable sculptural water jets along with a theatre quality LED lighting and sound system animate the pool, making it a unique and fun experience both day and night. The surface can be drained easily to accommodate a large event while a subsurface reservoir holds and recycles the water for the next day. During colder months, the water feature becomes an ice rink for skating and a focal point for winter festivities.
This transformation has helped to revitalize the surrounding business area. Updated façades and recessed sidewalks now allow businesses to spill past their own walls and establish a vibrant new street life.
2015 Americas Property Awards, Commercial Landscape Category, Canada
2014 RAIC National Urban Design Award, Certificate of Merit, Civic Design
2014 Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO), Margaret & Nicholas Hill Cultural Heritage Landscape Award
2013 CSLA Award of Excellence, Regional Honour
Lead Landscape Architect & Consultant: Janet Rosenberg & Studio
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: RDH Architects (Pavilion Architect)
Project Location: Guelph City Hall, 62-2, Carden St, Guelph, ON Canada N1H 3A2
Client: City of Guelph
Design year: 2008
Year Built: 2012
Photographer: Jeff McNeill Photography, Tom Ridout, Kim Lawrence