Harbourfront Centre at York Quay

Harbourfront Centre at York Quay

Harbourfront Centre, a unique arts institution that pioneered reinvestment in civic activity on the Toronto waterfront, has grown to become one of Canada’s most visited destinations. Attracting 12.5 million people annually, it is the site of the city's most diverse collection of cultural celebrations and arts events.

Two squares, one at the street front and one along the water’s edge, organize the circulation between existing and future buildings while offering respite from the experientially rich programming that animates the Quay.

Ontario Square’s bold two-tone paving scheme, inspired by the ice floes that accumulate in Toronto Harbour, makes the ground plane feel alive whether playing host to a crowded market or a lone visitor.

More than 500 densely planted trembling aspens in large, raised beds define the edges of this circulation nexus, which is also equipped for events with signage, lighting, benches, and utility connections.

MVVA’s design replaces an existing surface parking lot with a 300-car underground garage. With a dramatic opening to the sky, the new garage becomes part of the arrival sequence, bringing daylight and fresh air to visitors as they make their way to the surface.

At the water’s edge, Canada Square provides a generous place of gathering with panoramic views and welcome shelter in the winter. A simple but materially rich grid of pink granite cobbles plays against organically shaped plant beds. Seating areas are shielded from harbor winds by a soaring grove of 21 metasequoia trees and a thick understory of swaying Hakone grass. The cosmopolitan plant palette feels familiar in this northern climate while also expressing the city’s international character.

Towering “moonlight” fixtures pair with softly glowing columns of light at eye level. In a place where nighttime use is critical, the illuminated character of Canada Square at night provides an entirely different and equally engaging experience as a visit during the day.