08-31-22 | Department

Queens Square Restoration

The vision was to create purposeful linkages between people and the cultural landscape.
by Brad Smith, OALA, CSLA, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect, Seferian Design Group

The renovation of Queens Square in Cambridge, Ontario included restoring the pictured Gore Fountain, the pavement, concrete benches, site lighting, and trash receptacles found around the square. PHOTO CREDIT: MCNEIL PHOTOGRAPHY
This aerial view of the square provides an idea of how the site fits in to the existing urban environment. The Honeylocust trees visible in the photo that line the fountain were reused from the original Queens Square. PHOTO CREDIT: SEFERIAN DESIGN GROUP
This image shows a close up of the Russian cannon that was donated to the city of Cambridge in 1864. The cannon is from the Crimean War era of Russian history and was moved and refurbished during the project. PHOTO CREDIT: MCNEIL PHOTOGRAPHY
The final concept plan for the project that shows the fountain, the relocated historical feature, the Russian gun, and all of the new paving and site amenities. PHOTO CREDIT: SEFERIAN DESIGN GROUP
Looking at the site from above, the refurbished trash receptacles, lighting, and daylily planting areas are visible. The new elements to the site are also visible including concrete bench seating along the fountain edges, new concrete paving, wood bench seating across from the fountain, and concrete banding on the east side to promote wayfinding. PHOTO CREDIT: MCNEIL PHOTOGRAPHY

For nearly 200 years, Queens Square has been the heart of downtown Cambridge, Ontario. This urban plaza forms a key linkage in the open space system of the city, joining the Cambridge Main Street Bridge to the east and Memorial Park to the west. Together, these three spaces form a crucial part of the identity of the city, and act as landmarks for locals and visitors.
Queens Square not only has great iconic and heritage value, but it also plays an important role in the civic life of Cambridge, hosting Canada Day and Remembrance Day events that bring people together each year. However, over time the space had grown less welcoming, with cracked paving and aged utility sheds that were periodically flooded affecting the function of the Square's centerpiece, Gore Centennial Fountain.
The timely refurbishment of Queens Square has transformed an aging space in the heart of downtown Cambridge into a civic hub that welcomes all members of the community. By emphasizing the historic character of the site, and improving accessibility and working sustainably, the design helps unite people and the landscape. Originally installed in 1967 to celebrate Canada's centennial year, Gore Fountain was in desperate need of a makeover. Concrete paving and concrete benches within the plaza space were heavily damaged and impeded safety and accessibility within the plaza. With the help of Seferian Design Group, based in Burlington, Ontario, and led by Brad Smith (OALA, APALA, CSLA, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect) with funding from a Canada 150 grant, the fountain was planned for restoration.
Restoring the site was a priority for the City of Cambridge, especially as Queens Square is one of the key public spaces near the Grand River. This made it a target of the Back to the Rivers Plan, an initiative that strives to enhance connection to the waterfront, encourages civic participation, and improves quality of life for residents and visitors to Cambridge. Canada's Sesquicentennial was also an important consideration - not only would Canada 150 funding make the project possible, but it would be appropriately symbolic to re-dedicate the Centennial Fountain 50 years after it was first built.

The main goal of the project was to respect the original design, while improving the functionality and aesthetics of the site. The vision was to create purposeful linkages between people and the cultural landscape. In addition to repairing the concrete fountain and replacing surfacing and structures, the design team worked to increase accessibility and circulation by improving site grading and layout.
Seat walls around the existing planting beds were re-shaped to create more open space for gathering, and dated benches were replaced, while other features like light standards and waste receptacles were refurbished. Existing heritage features like the Russian Gun, a Crimean War-era cannon donated to the City in 1864, and the Gore Centennial fountain dedication plaque, were lined up with the existing Geodetic Survey of Canada benchmark, enhancing the Square's strong east-west visual axis. Bands of exposed-aggregate concrete are used to define walkways and seating areas, while echoing the
fountain's angular design.
In addition to enhancing the functionality and heritage character of Queens Square, the project used interventions to enhance sustainability during design and construction. All existing trees on site were protected, ensuring that the many environmental benefits of mature urban trees remained. Re-grading directed all storm water toward planting beds, where the water could be absorbed by plants or infiltrate into the ground. Many steps were taken in the name of the environment, from the selection of a local contractor to the use of local materials as well as refurbishment and reuse of existing site features.
The restored Queens Square is welcoming a new generation of Cambridge residents and visitors, offering a unique place to meet, relax, learn about heritage, interact with water, or enjoy a civic event. The project was committed to continuous improvement in demonstrating design practices that promote sustainability, including measures to increase efficiency and use of renewable resources and to decrease the production of waste and hazardous materials. Not only did the project promote health, wellness, and the safety of the community through design and maintenance, but it improved the overall experience for its visitors.

Team List
Project Lead: Brad Smith, OALA, CSLA, ASLA, Senior
Landscape Architect, Seferian Design Group
Landscape Architecture: Seferian Design Group
Civil Engineering: MTE Consultants
Electrical Engineering: Mighton Engineering
Landscape Construction: Hardscape Concrete & Interlock


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