The first project completed at Nathan Phillips Square transforms the three-storey podium at Toronto City Hall into the largest publicly accessible green-roof garden in Canada. It fulfils the original potential of Viljo Revell’s iconic 1965 design by creating a lush metropolitan haven that supports lingering, strolling, gathering, and ceremony and panoramic views of the city. The new green roof consists of three distinct areas: A sweeping carpet of sedum mosaic surrounded by a perimeter walk, a granite paved courtyard that frames the curved council chamber, and the plaza that occupies the prow.

View of the garden from the observation deck (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
View of the garden from the observation deck

Inspired by Paul Klee’s Polyphony (1932), the garden features a complex mosaic of sedum species inter-planted with grasses, alliums and bulbs that respond to shade and wind conditions created by the surrounding towers. The colours of the plantings progress from bright yellows and oranges in the SW to deep reds and purples in the NE. Although the initial garden layout was designed to appear rigidly geometric, the plants were carefully selected to grow over time into a more Fauvist set of drifts.

Connected to the square by the ceremonial ramp at the south, by stairs at the north and east, this upper level garden is signalled by new trees at the podium level, and lit wooden handrails that lead up from the square.

The Podium Roof Garden opened officially on 29 May 2010 as part of Doors Open Toronto.

Layered seating and planting (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Layered seating and planting
Canopy seating (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Shade benches
Seating nestled in the planting (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Benches with lighting
Nestled in the planting (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Nestled in the planting
The long bench at the council chamber plaza (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
The long bench at the council chamber courtyard
Shade benches in the west garden (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Shade benches in fall
Shade benches in summer (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Shade benches in summer
The perimeter walk (photo: Gabriel Li)
The perimeter walk · Photo: Gabriel Li
View of the west garden looking south (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
The perimeter walk at night
View of the central courtyard (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
The central courtyard
View of the tree planter and council chamber from the prow (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
The tree planter and council chamber from the prow

project index

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Garden
  4. Airdrie Road Residence
  5. Albany Avenue Residence
  6. Aporia Records
  7. Asphalt Poetry
  8. – Poem
  9. Baby Point Gardens
  10. Beach Garden
  11. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  12. Beaty Residence
  13. Bennington Heights Garden
  14. Berkeley Street Residence
  15. Bin-Scarth Garden
  16. Blink and you miss it.
  17. – Poem
  18. Bloor St. Apartment
  19. Blue Note
  20. Booth Avenue Residence
  21. Boustrophedon Garden
  22. Braemore Gardens Residence
  23. Browning Avenue Residence
  24. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  25. Camp Arowhon Offices
  26. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  27. Centre for Teaching and Learning, UBCO
  28. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  29. Chocolate Loft
  30. City Instrument
  31. Clarendon Garden
  32. Conversation Piece
  33. Creemore Farm
  34. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  35. Dickson Park Garden
  36. Dilworth Residence
  37. Don Landing Revitalization
  38. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  39. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  40. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  41. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  42. Eglinton Ave Forecourt
  43. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  44. Elizabeth Fry Society
  45. Ellsworth Residence
  46. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  47. First Avenue Garden
  48. First Avenue Residence
  49. Flyover Canada
  50. Foote’s Pond Wood
  51. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  52. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  53. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  54. Gormley Garden
  55. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  56. Greener P
  57. Greer Road Garden
  58. Greer Road Residence
  59. Guelph Bridge
  60. Head in the Clouds
  61. Helena Ave Residence 4
  62. Junction Craft Brewery
  63. Kelpies Competition
  64. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  65. Kipling & Islington Developments
  66. Le jardin du repos
  67. Lenticular Curtain
  68. Liberty Village Parkettes
  69. Liza’s Garden
  70. Lynwood Garden
  71. Macroscape
  72. Markham Garden One
  73. Markham Street Residence Two
  74. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  75. Mulock Park
  76. Nathan Phillips Square
  77. – Streetscape
  78. – Peace Garden
  79. – Podium Roof Garden
  80. Orchard View Garden
  81. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  82. Owl Cottage
  83. Paperstone Scissors
  84. Peripheral Sitings
  85. Pottery Road Crossing
  86. rare
  87. Ravine Forecourt
  88. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  89. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  90. Roxborough Garden One
  91. Roxborough Garden Two
  92. Ryerson Centre for Urban Innovation
  93. Schulich School of Business
  94. Sheridan College
  95. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  96. Spadina Quay Wetland
  97. St. Anne's Road Garden
  98. Stratford Market Square Competition
  99. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  100. Superkids Dental
  101. Superlegible
  102. Sweet Farm
  103. Sweet Farm Pond House
  104. Swift Medical Offices
  105. The Meadows Reconsidered
  106. The Red Sash
  107. Thick & Thin
  108. Tipping Point
  109. Tranby Garden
  110. Tree House Residence
  111. UHN Tunnels
  112. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  113. Venice Biennale 2012
  114. Vermont Square Park
  115. Vernon Avenue Garden
  116. Walk the Walk
  117. Walmer Road Residence
  118. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  119. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  120. Wells Street Residence
  121. Westminster Residence
  122. With Words as Their Actions
  123. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  124. Woven Stories
  125. York Park