Toronto City Hall, Toronto, Ontario
The Toronto City Hall, or New City Hall, is the seat of the municipal government of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. Designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell (with Heikki Castrén, Bengt Lundsten, and Seppo Valjus) and landscape architect Richard Strong, and engineered by Hannskarl Bandel, the building opened in 1965. It was built to replace Old City Hall, which was built in 1899. The current city hall, located at Nathan Phillips Square, is actually Toronto's fourth and was built in order to replace the former city hall due to a shortage of space. The area of Toronto City Hall and the civic square was formerly the location of Toronto's Old Chinatown, which was expropriated and bulldozed during the mid-1950s in preparation for a new civic building.
In 1958, an international architectural competition was launched by Mayor Nathan Phillips in order to find a design for the new city hall. Revell's winning proposal came first among submissions from 42 countries. It consists of near-twin towers surrounding a white disk-like council chamber, which is mounted on a raised platform with entrances located below. There is also a ramp from connecting the square to the podium roof, from which there is access to the council chamber. The two towers are of unequal height, the east tower being taller than the west. The building was nicknamed "The Eye of the Government" because it resembles a large eye in a plan view. Revell died a year before New City Hall was completed.
While the building's base is rectangular, its two towers are curved in cross-section and rise to differing heights. The east tower is 27 storeys (99.5 metres (326 ft)) tall and the west tower is 20 storeys (79.4 metres (260 ft)). Between the towers is the saucer-like council chamber, and the overall arrangement is somewhat like two hands cradling the chamber. The outer concrete surfaces of the towers have been ribbed, to prevent collapse of the fabric as a result of the expansion of the exterior surfaces, and the tearing apart of the fabric as a result of differences in air pressure on the two sides of each wing-like tower during the high winds characteristic of the Great Lakes. The north, west, and east elevations are more abstract and sculptural in contrast with the extensive glazing of south elevation facing the square; each presents a view of concave panels of concrete textured with split-faced strips of Botticino marble. To the east of the square is Old City Hall which is now a courthouse. From the air, the building is seen as a giant unblinking eye, thus the building's original nickname of "The Eye of Government".
The design for the public space in front of the new city hall, Nathan Phillips Square, was part of the competition. The square's reflecting pool and concrete arches, fountain, and overhead walkways were thus also part of Revell's submission. It has since seen several monuments, sculptures, and other works of public art added, and was renovated, but it continues to complement the city hall with its original Modernist design elements.