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Dundas Square

Dundas Square is a public square in downtown Toronto, Ontario, on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street. It was opened to the public in November of 2002, and a "grand opening" concert was held on May 30, 2003.

Designed by Brown + Storey Architects, it was intended to create a new public space in Toronto, somewhat akin to Nathan Phillips Square, designed by Viljo Revell for New City Hall. Unlike Nathan Phillips Square, however, Dundas Square is operated as a commercial venture, with a separate Board of Management.

The square is largely paved with granite, and features a zinc canopy along the northern edge, a movable plinth which serves as a stage for concerts and other performances, lighting masts, and a row of lighted fountains set directly into the pavement. Planned additions include a row of trees along the southern edge, a transparent canopy over the plinth, and a new entrance to Dundas subway station below. The square also includes a below-grade municipal parking lot, with an entrance under the plinth.

The square is located opposite the Eaton Centre and just south of the Ryerson University campus, and is part of a revitalization effort by the city and the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, an association of local businesses. Until the late 1990s, the Dundas Square site was occupied by a block of retail stores, and considered by many to be a seedy or dangerous corner. In 1998, as part of its Yonge Street Regeneration Project, Toronto City Council approved the expropriation and demolition of the buildings on the site, and the construction of Dundas Square.

Other projects in the immediate area include the redevelopment of the Eaton Centre, and the construction of a new cinema complex to the north. A so-called "Media Tower" - essentially a scaffold for billboards, operated by Clear Channel Communications - has been constructed on the northwest corner. The Business Improvement Area and city councillor Kyle Rae have pointed to Times Square in New York City as a model to emulate, with its canyon of billboards and animated advertising screens.

Critics of Dundas Square suggest that the city has missed an opportunity for new green space within the downtown area, or at least some more interesting architectural elements. According to Brown + Storey, the square is meant as a blank slate, a space to be filled and animated by its users. Others worry that the square is overcommercialized and, run as a business with a mandate to be financially self-supporting, cannot fulfil the role of a truly public space.

External links:

Official site with event listings

Architect's Site