Moriyama and Teshima Build Green City Hall in Guelph, Ontario


photos by Lloyd Alter unless noted

So many of our smaller towns and cities are in trouble; just a few weeks ago I wrote about one that was demolishing an entire street of empty buildings. Others pull themselves together and reinvent themselves. Guelph, Ontario is such a place; a few years ago citizens formed a Civic League to throw the bums out and put in a new, activist and green City Council and Mayor. They have taken a strong stance on ecological awareness and heritage preservation and it shows.

Now they have built a new City Hall that reflects those goals.

guelph city hall green building canada photo wall exterior

Guelph had a lovely old city hall that dated back to 1856, and that they had seriously outgrown; various departments were spread all over town. Next to City Hall was an arena that had been built on the site of an 1899 Winter Fair building. When they pulled off the aluminum siding they found that the original stone facade of the fair building was inside, so Moriyama and Teshima Architects integrated it into the design. It creates quite the dramatic lobby space.

guelph city hall green building canada photo green wall

Of course, every green building these days will have the obligatory green wall in the lobby;

guelph city hall green building canada photo stair

Photo by Grant Sewell

But what really matters is how the building actually works. It has a grand, naturally lit and comfortable communicating stair in the middle, that just invites you to walk up instead of taking the elevator. The courtyard brings natural light into circulation spaces, and clerestory windows and toplights bring it into the interior spaces. It is filled with light.

guelph city hall green building canada photo roof

About half of the structure is covered with a green roof. Other green features include a ban on bottled water, bike storage and showers, dual flush toilets and other water and energy control measures that reduce water and energy consumption to 30 to 40 percent less than conventional buildings. It is designed to achieve LEED silver from the Canadian Green Building Council.

guelph city hall green building canada photo exterior

one2one photography

It is still pretty barren outside, but when the pool and meeting areas are installed it will look a lot softer and a lot greener. Like so much in Guelph, the City Hall is intelligently and sensitively done.

guelph city hall green building canada photo susan ratcliffe

Susan Ratcliffe, center in picture, has been conducting walking tours of Guelph for over twenty years. She knows her stuff. More on the building at

More on Guelph:
CFL's Pack Big Savings at University of Guelph
LEED Platinum in Canada: Designed to Bore
LEED Platinum in Canada: Designed to Bore
More on Moriyama and Teshima:
Canadian War Museum by Moriyama & Teshima with Griffiths Rankin Cook
Ghostbuster Aykroyd Faces New Terroir

Related Content on