At the centre of the City of Stratford, City Hall was designed to “exploit its irregular site, presenting interesting façades from all angles.” The adjacent historic Market Square is surrounded on all sides by heritage main street facades comprised of local businesses. Yet, modern demands have necessitated the use of the Market Square space for parking and public transit.
We propose an ‘expanded’ Market Square, in which the design stretches across the streets, allowing all three entities of retail and commerce to benefit from a dynamic public space. For much of its existence, as evidenced in period photographs, the area was open, uniformly surfaced and active, complementing the reading of the City of Stratford flowing into Market Square and Market Square flowing through the City. The genesis for the design was inspired by this framing of the City Hall structure within Market Square by the historic facades. The property edges on Wellington Street, as represented by their footprints, are used to cast a symbolic reflection of these in the ground as modulating bands of pavers. A similar acknowledgment of Downie Street results in a geometry that is a metaphorical net that spans from one edge of the expanded square to another.
The new Market Square is reconnected to its surrounding urban fabric and provides innumerable seating opportunities — “from all angles” — for people having lunch or just for watching other people. Connections between the Square and the streets are re-established, and the people who wish to sit can do so in either sun or shade. Modeled on a traditional historic bench profile, the featured seating is made into a memorable site-specific element by virtue of wrapping around the bosque trees, thereby sheltering them from traffic and urban conditions.
Design should mirror the physical urban fabric as the physical role of architecture in the expression of cultural heritage, yet it should also reflect the economic and social activities that symbolize the community, whether in the past or still present. We have protected and celebrated the unique heritage of the site and context in the process showcasing the culture of Stratford. In our design, a water basin is positioned so as to offer a framed mirrored reflection of City Hall. Although budgeted for a later phase, water should serve as the tranquil medium to instill this contemplation. With a fountain, it also provides a focal point for gathering or casual encounters, as well as a source of play and animation for children and adults alike. When combined with dramatic lighting, it can expand the Square’s programming potential to include evening hours. A winter layout is further proposed for a later phase, to be captured as an independent donor opportunity.
JRS was shortlisted through an RFQ with two other design firms for this stage two RFP/Design Submission.
For more information on the project, please go to: http://www.stratfordcanada.ca/en/insidecityhall/market-square.asp To view our complete submission, please go to: http://www.stratfordcanada.ca/en/insidecityhall/resources/RFP15-09---Janet-Rosenberg-Proposal.pdf
Status: Shortlisted Finalist – Under Jury Review