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