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A park can be a place where all the peo­ple of a city come to­gether.

Or it can sort us into dif­fer­ent tribes: the dog peo­ple, the par­ents with kids, the tourists snap­ping pho­tos.

At Ber­czy Park, how­ever, every­one comes to­gether around a grand cast-iron foun­tain. It is pat­terned af­ter a late-19th-cen­tury de­sign but or­na­mented with dog heads, col­lar studs, and 27 full-colour hand-sculpted ca­nines whose mouths spout water back into the basin. Oh, and one cat.

This spec­ta­cle is the work of Claude Cormier + As­so­ciés, land­scape ar­chi­tects who re­designed this un­der­uti­lized, pie-shaped park at Front and Church Streets last year. “I think the park is now be­ing used as we in­tended it to be,” Claude Cormier says from his Mon­treal of­fice. “Peo­ple are aware of their sur­round­ings. They’re re­lax­ing, they’re sit­ting, they’re look­ing at things, they’re look­ing at peo­ple.”

That’s the idea. Cormier’s de­signs, in­clud­ing Su­gar Beach on the wa­ter­front, blend an ex­pert knowl­edge of tree and plant species with rig­or­ous ar­chi­tec­tural de­tail­ing and, above all, in­sights about what makes a park suc­cess­ful. Com­fort­able seat­ing. Shade. A va­ri­ety of tex­tures. Paving that pro­vides visual in­ter­est.

And, within the land­scape, some­thing to think about. Cormier, who founded his firm in 1995, once worked in the Mas­sachusetts of­fice of Martha Schwartz, a land­scape ar­chi­tect who proves that it’s pos­si­ble to take ref­er­ences from cul­ture, and not just from na­ture. He’s done that ex­pertly ever since – cre­at­ing places that bring us in touch with the en­vi­ron­ment but re­main dis­tinctly man-made. He will con­tinue this tra­di­tion with Love Park, his com­pe­ti­tion­win­ning de­sign for a new green space on the wa­ter­front.

Mean­while, back at Ber­czy Park, the daily bal­let of flâneurs, tod­dlers and ca­nines con­tin­ues. All the tribes of the city come to­gether here.

CLAUDECORMIER.COM 

 Claude Cormier + As­so­ciés re­vived this Front Street park with a tow­er­ing cast-iron foun­tain en­cir­cled by 27 ca­nine stat­ues.

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