Verticality, Public Space and the Role of Resident Participation in Revitalizing Suburban High-rise Buildings


  • Loren March University of Toronto
  • Ute Lehrer York University


public space, high rise, verticality, suburbia, Toronto, tower renewal


In this paper, we look at the role that public space may take on in the redevelopment of suburban high-rise
buildings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). We are interested in what role public space plays
in the imaginary and how different forms of public participation in planning processes are beneficial to the
outcome of the redesign of high-rise buildings who are in need of repair and retrofitting due to their age and
their social stigmatization. These suburban high-rises offer insight into newly proliferating forms of public space,
and speak to the need for more diverse and specific physical, social and political articulations of public space.
We find that by examining public space through the lens of verticality we are able to see how different planning
interventions, urban development processes, spatial contexts and competing imaginaries produce very different
and often hybrid forms. We base our findings upon selected planning and policy documents, media reports and
discourse, and input from interviews with several locals involved in planning processes.

Author Biographies

Loren March, University of Toronto

PhD Candidate

Geography and Planning

University of Toronto

Ute Lehrer, York University

Environmental Studies

York University