York Urbanist

4 MARKHAM TOWN HALL – Iconic Buildings

December 22nd, 2011

The brick and glass Civic Centre was designed by architect Arthur Erikson with Richard Stevens Architects Limited and opened in 1989. Entrances, except the great hall entrance, are named after communities in Markham (Unionville, Milliken, Thornhill), part of Erickson’s mall theme – 1986.  The theatre beside it lends content and balance within the site. Architect: CS+P Architects.

Together, the theatre, school and civic centre create a campus that brought together the individual villages that are Markham.  Although the Town Hall is set away from the street, it overlooks the intersection of Highway 7 and Warden in a stately fashion.  Once in the campus, the reflecting pool sets a tone of calmness that perhaps belies the events of Council.  Having said that the centre overlooks the street, it feels like we are entering the back door as you must drive to the back of the complex. Therefore the parking lot becomes a major feature of the site and insists that Markham is suburbia. The expanse of asphalt and concrete is a disappointing invitation to what is a uniquely laid out floor plan. Its ceremonial ‘front door’ is understated on the north end.

What caught my eye as a young design professional was the multicoloured glass panels of the school and theatre.  Subtedly the panels add character to an indistinct facade. But they are enough to draw the eye.  When the glassy hues of red and blue are seen in a photo, you know they represent Markham. 

The Town Hall may need greater floor space as the Town grows. The site’s large size lends future possibilities to enlarge on the persona of the Town’s civic precinct.    Hopefully, the next expansion will be respectful of Erikson’s original concept and that the site will become a physical, visual and social emblem of what is becoming a knitted community of villages.


Iconic Rating – 9 out of 10

Desirability – 9 out of 10

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