and modernize its aesthetics and functionality. Rapoport explains that they were perfectly suited to implement their design outlook and process to this high-profile public space. “We really felt the big challenge with Nathan Phillips Square was, that there are these amazing buildings and amazing architecture in that public space, but there was a very poor understanding of how to activate the space into an area that the public would use and embrace.” Rapoport offers that PLANT’s improvements to the space have made the iconic area of Toronto a single, identifiable entity, rather than a collection of independent elements. “Today it’s difficult to tell where the architecture ends and the landscape begins. It’s completely integrated.” Moreover, successfully completing this project opened many doors for the firm and their desire to redesign public spaces around Toronto, including landscapes in and around universities and other public institutions. In Fact, PLANT received a Governor General’s Medal for the Nathan Phillips Square project. “If people understand the landscape, they will become stewards of the landscape.” However, much of PLANT’s interest remains in the neigh- bourhoods and the opportunity to do a bit of urban planning that is representative of the community’s culture and vibe. Rapoport explains, “Public space is a place for community building and social interaction. The reason for living in the city is for abundant social interaction. So if you think about it that way, then the city needs to be a place that is actively nurturing social interaction.”

elements that make for a usable and sustainable public space. “Obviously we want to make it beautiful and easy to maintain. But there are many spaces that don’t exude this nurturing and socially encouraging feeling. So we work with communities and even do streetscape plans with them. Maybe 4 to 10 blocks long, for example. We look at doing things like parkettes or gathering places. Or maybe it’s a street that could be closed down on Saturdays for a market. We can design the spaces that draw people in, not rush people through. That’s where our interest is.” PLANT’s versatility has led them into a number of adaptive reuse projects for the corporate world. For example, recently they converted an old warehouse space formerly

She points out that beautification is just one of many



Made with FlippingBook HTML5