The vision was to create purposeful linkages between people and the cultural landscape.
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.