York Urbanist

5 VAUGHAN CITY HALL – Iconic Buildings

December 20th, 2011


“Designed by the award-winning Canadian architectural firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna
and Blumberg (KPMB), Vaughan City Hall is expected to be one of the largest
civic buildings in Canada to achieve a Gold certification for Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – an internationally accepted benchmark
for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.” www.vaughan.ca

Like the Toronto city hall, then entrance hall is appropriately vacuous, but confusing upon first visit. I overheard comments from several persons in the lobby expounding that they felt that the atrium was a waste of dollars. This could be a reaction to the project exceeding budget.  The design is LEED certified giving it credibility, and the rest of the interior is expressive of the personalities of the originating Council.

Unlike the Toronto city hall, the siting and street presence is discomfitting. Some have expressed that Toronto’s is shaped like a toilet. But viewing Vaughan’s from a distance west of the site on Major Mackenzie, take a look.  There is a concern that the middle finger of the building’s fist appears above the horizon of the foreground Mackenzie House. 

The project became both famous and infamous as an icon of Vaughan for its stark realities.

The reality is that the front door has a presence on a parking lot, not the important Major Mackenzie frontage, which simply gets a side view.  The travelers on the GO train get the backside and its expanse of parking.  Where is the LEED point for reducing the need to drive to the site. (LEED does not acknowledge travel to a site in its calculations). KPMB must have struggled with the site location while expressing good design within the building. The building is visually distinctive by its tower but is unlikely to go into a coffee table book of architecture.

Iconic Rating – 8.5 out of 10

Desirability – 8 out of 10

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