Stone pavers like porphyry and its more expensive granite cousin are being designed into numerous places in Toronto.  This blog has previously highlighted the wonderful designs and work by WaterFront Toronto, now the nearby entertainment district is re-imagining one of their main streets. Distinctive paving materials and patterns are a necessary part of the project recommendations as well as a continuous “mountable” curb. The curb, on both sides of the street will enable a seamless transition into a pedestrian-only space for events.

Excerpts from the EA Study – John Street Corridor Improvement

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of John Street’s potential for Toronto including its designation as one of four streets that are ‘Cultural Corridors’ (City of Toronto, ‘Canada’s Urban Waterfront: Waterfront Culture and Heritage Infrastructure Plan’, 2001) and within an area identified as the ‘Avenue of the Arts’ (City of Toronto, ‘Culture Plan for the Creative City’, 2003). In designating the John Street corridor as a ‘Cultural Corridor’, the City’s report states that: “John Street, as a central urban street, can be understood as a cultural new media link to the central waterfront, linking the city’s cultural activities with the water’s edge. A revitalized John Street could become Canada’s premier street of arts, entertainment and culture. Promoted as part of a global tourism strategy, John Street would become a must-see destination and the place to celebrate the convergence of art, design and the new media that is rapidly transforming Canada’s cultural landscape.”

Distinctive Paving Materials on John Street Toronto imagined

The study further recommends the following action:

“Develop a streetscape improvement plan for John Street, including an audit of existing conditions and detailed design proposal for implementation. Enhance the pedestrian realm along John Street with a unique streetscape character illustrating the route’s cultural significance. Increase sidewalk width and narrow the roadway whenever possible to create a more comfortable pedestrian promenade.

Distinctive Paving Materials Through Intersections

A key objective for the design of John Street is to enhance wayfinding to the various attractions and destinations that line the corridor. Accordingly streetscape elements and paving details should be a prominent feature that extends through the intersections and wraps around intersecting streets to clearly identify John Street where it intersects with east-west streets. A distinctive treatment can also signal to drivers on east-west streets to be more aware and cautious at John Street where high volumes of crossing pedestrian traffic can be anticipated.

Distinctive Paving Treatment from Building Face to Building Face

Distinctive pavement treatments are a key feature to creating a unique public space but also as a means to provide visual cues to motorists that different driver behavior is warranted in this corridor. The preferred design proposes a distinctive paving treatment that extends from building face to building face, encompassing the sidewalk, roadway and setback areas between the right-of-way and buildings. This approach to paving is intended to unify the street, reinforce its civic importance and distinction as a cultural corridor, enhance the quality and setting of the cultural uses that line the street.

 Distinctive Paving Materials on John Street festival intersection imagined

The Planning Partnership: Consultant for the study

The Planning Partnership is a multidisciplinary practice providing land use planning, urban design, landscape architecture, and consultation services to public and private sector clients. Based in Toronto, The Planning Partnership prepares policies, plans, designs and studies related to new communities, campuses, waterfronts, open spaces, urban corridors and downtowns in Canada, the United States, China and Russia.

The Planning Partnership is often engaged in complex urban projects involving a myriad of stakeholders and is recognized for its unique collaborative and consensus-building techniques. A commitment to a truly multidisciplinary approach lends to the firm’s ability to tackle comprehensive and large–scale planning and urban design projects, from the visioning stages through to implementation. Innovators in transit-oriented development, sustainable community design, public realm design, and revitalization strategies, The Planning Partnership has been the recipient of numerous local, provincial, national and international awards.


Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These beautiful materials are available from Milestone Imports.   Milestone supports the creativity of architects, planners and designers. Porphyry offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet and red, depending on where it is extracted.  The products are available in North America from Milestone Imports.  –