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