Toronto's modern city hall resulted from a 1958 international competition to which some 520 architects from 42 countries submitted designs. The winning presentation by Finnish architect Viljo Revell was controversial—two curved towers of differing height—but logical: an aerial view of City Hall shows a circular council chamber sitting like an eye between the two tower "eyelids," which contain the offices of 44 municipal wards, with 44 city councillors. A remarkable mural within the main entrance, Metropolis, was constructed by sculptor David Partridge from 100,000 nails. Revell died before his masterwork was opened in 1965, but within months City Hall became a symbol of a thriving metropolis, with a silhouette as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower. Robert Fulford's book Accidental City details the positive influence the development of this building has had on Toronto's civic life.
Annual events at City Hall include the Spring Flower Show in late March; the
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in early July; and the yearly Cavalcade of Lights from late November through Christmas, when more than 100,000 sparkling lights are illuminated across both new and old city halls.
In front of City Hall, 9-acre Nathan Phillips Square (named after the mayor who initiated the City Hall project) has become a gathering place, whether for royal visits, protest rallies, picnic lunches, or concerts. The reflecting pool is a delight in summer, and even more so in winter, when office workers skate at lunch. The park also holds a Peace Garden for quiet meditation and Henry Moore's striking bronze sculpture The Archer.