Yonge-Dundas Square, or Dundas Square, is a public square
situated at the southeast corner of the intersection of Yonge Street and Dundas
Street East in Downtown Toronto. The square was conceived in 1997 as part of
revitalizing the intersection, and was designed by Brown and Storey Architects.
Since its completion in 2002, the square has hosted many public events,
performances and art displays, establishing itself as a prominent landmark in Toronto
and one of the city’s prime tourist attractions. Central to the Downtown Yonge
entertainment and shopping district, the square is owned by the city and is the
first public square in Canada to be maintained through a public-private
partnership. The intersection is one of the busiest in Canada, serving over
100,000 pedestrians daily.
Surrounding the square are other major landmarks, including the Toronto
Eaton Centre, 10 Dundas Street East, 33 Dundas Street East, Ryerson University,
Ed Mirvish Theatre, Atrium on Bay and the Citytv building. The
intersection features the city’s first pedestrian scramble. The square is
continuously illuminated by large billboard screens, which has led to
comparison of the square with New York City’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly
The square is on a slight incline, which architects Brown and Storey have
said was intended to evoke a theatrical stage. It is made with modular raised
square textured 35.125 by 35.125 inches (892.2 by 892.2 mm) granite slabs
(each slab costing approximately $1,500: $1,000 materials plus $500 labour),
features a diagonally running zinc canopy along the northern hypotenuse of the
“square”, a movable plinth which serves as a stage for concerts and
other performances, a row of lighted fountains set directly into the pavement,
a row of small trees along the southern edge, a transparent canopy over the
plinth, and a new entrance to Dundas subway station below. A series of low,
circular stone planters was added to the western side of the square in summer
Because Dundas Street bends at the square, it is not actually a square, but
an irregular pentagon.
The centrepiece of the square is the array of fountains designed by Dan
Euser of Waterarchitecture. Two rows of 10 fountains are spread out across the
square’s main walkway, so that visitors have the opportunity to walk through or
around the fountains. Unlike many other city fountains, the Dundas Square
fountains were meant for waterplay, and include a sophisticated filtration
system that (according to both of the architects) keep the water at or above
“pool quality” water. According to Euser, the water is treated to
maintain health standards for waterplay. According to facility administrator
Christine MacLean, the slate that was chosen for the entire space has non-slip
properties for the safety of those running through or playing in the fountains.
Each of the 10 water fountains consists of a stainless steel grille with 30 ground
nozzles (arranged in three rows of 10) under it.
The entire rock surface is of a very dark (almost black) colour and
effectively absorbs sunlight, thus creating a warm surface on which to rest.
The water runs under the dark rock slabs and is thus heated by them, so that
the fountain water is solar heated