Yonge -Dundas Square
Yonge -Dundas Square is one of Toronto’s well known public squares located on the intersection between Yonge and Dundas Street. The square was designed by the firm Brown + Storey Architects in 1988. (1) The square was officially opened in 2003. Many critics have praised its architectural design and compared it to many great European public squares. (2 p. 170) Yonge-Dundas square or simply known as Dundas Square was part of downtown redevelopment project that initiated in 1996 (3 p. 22 & 23) Before the development of Dundas Square, the site was a mixture of a great shopping center, the Eaton center, and a mix of various street vendors, digital plasma advertising, street performers and all sorts of crowds. In 2003 Dundas square was developed on the southeast corner of Yonge, as a Canadian version of New York’s Time Square as means to serve multiple purposes such as ; tourist attraction ,advertising site , gathering space and entertainment space. (4 p. 2) In this essay I will discuss and compare the design features of Dundas Square in compliance with William. H. Whyte’s rules for public spaces that are majorly based on his film, “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”. There are six major criteria set out by Whyte in his video, the social life of small urban spaces, which include sitting spaces, street, sun, food, water, trees and triangulation. (5) Each criterion will be discussed in relevance to Dundas square. Sittable Spaces
Whyte considers this criterion a major factor in the success of most plazas and public spaces. Dundas Square complies with this criterion to an extent. As mentioned in the video, elegantly simple steps that are easy to sit on or go up and down on and ledges can be one of the very simple yet popular sitting spaces in a public space. (5) The structure of Dundas square does not constitute of any major steps or ledges on the north, east or south side of the square. There are few benches on the west side, I haven’t measured these benches to be sure if they exactly comply with Whyte’s measures for a comfortably sized bench, but they appear to be comfortable enough for two people to sit on the opposite sides of it. Also on the west side there are a few steps and a ledge that is comfortable for sitting meaning it is of a suitable height that most people can easily sit on and also not bump into other on the other side. The west side ledges are comfortable for sitting in the sense that they don’t have any sharp edges to avoid people from sitting , or in the seasons where staying outside is tolerable for Torontonians, these ledges are not wet from the fountains located in this square . There aren’t any railings, sharp edges, shrubbery or any kind of structure that will prevent people from sitting on the ledges and steps. The raised podium on the east side of the square has many low and simple steps that are perfect for sitting or for groups of friends and people to gather and socialize. Many people are seen sitting on these steps coming down from the stage like incline of the square when the permits. These steps are very similar to the description Whyte mentioned in his film. He stated that steps that mostly attract people should be low, simple and easy to go up and down from. (5) The steps descending from this plinth are just that and as a result of their easy structure, they are one of the most populated sitting spots in the square. Another factor Whyte stresses in his film is the importance of movable chairs and the flexibility of the various sitting choices these movable chairs offer to people. (5) On the east side of the square movable chairs with small café style tables located in front of these chairs are observed. Most of the time these chairs are re-located by users to all around the square to accommodate peoples desires to different sitting locations with different views from the square. When there aren’t any concerts or...
Bibliography: 1. Hume, Christopher. 'A European space ' ; Dundas Square, Toronto 's latest public place, is also the city 's most misunderstood The empty landscape is intentional, and renewal at its edges is years from completion. Urban Issues. Jan 18, 2003.
2. Warkentin, John. Creating Memory: A Guide to Outdoor Public Sculpture in Toronto.
3. Ruppert, Evelyn Sharon. The Moral Economy of Cities : Shaping Good Citizens. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2005.
4. Teelucksingh, Cheryl. Claiming Space : Racialization in Canadian cities . 2006.
5. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. William.H.Whyte, 1979.
6. Downtown Yonge Website. [Online] http://www.downtownyonge.com/about.
7. Yonge-Dundas Square Website. [Online] http://ydsquare.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19:who-designed-the-square-all-about-the-design&catid=14:all-about-the-square&Itemid=27.
8. Toronto Star , Business Section. Dundas Square coming to life ; Decaying strip redesigned with rich granite, fibre-optic lights. March 18, 2002.
9. Michelin Travel Publications. Michelin Mustsees Toronto.
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