Commerce Court Courtyard located in the heart of the financial district in downtown Toronto is one of Canada’s most prominent urban spaces. It is defined by two historic buildings: Commerce Court North, a significant Art Deco building completed in 1931 and Commerce Court West a classic modern building, designed by I.M. Pei in 1972.
The client wanted to introduce planting into the courtyard. This resulted in moveable stainless steel planters that were fabricated to have minimal impact on the historic essence of the courtyard.
The material and scale of the planters are a direct response to the landscape and architecture. The use of non-directional stainless steel respects the cladding of I.M. Pei’s classic modern building, eliminates maintenance issues. The planters are 3’ x 3’ x 3’ based on the grid used in the granite paving pattern. The installation of the planters in an arc, around the fountain, follows the rhythm of I.M Pei’s grid and re-enforces the fountain as a visual focus. Bolts inserted into the top of the planter’s edge reinforce their strength and deter skateboarders.
A sun/shade study and an observation study of the users influenced the placement of the planters. Junipers and boxwood provide a continuous green throughout the year. Perennials provide interest during the summer. To the future delight of the courtyard participants, early March can predict the warmth of spring through the bright colours of seasonal bulbs such as tulips, and daffodils. The view can be enjoyed from above and within.
Engineered rubber was placed under the planters to absorb their impact on the granite pavers at the request of the client. The black rubber pads raise the planter and create a shadow line, eliminating the need for a drainage base and reinforcing the concept of minimalism. The rubber pads allow a forklift to move the planters anywhere in the courtyard or street plaza.
After September 11th the planters were moved to the front plaza as a preventative measure against terrorists.