True North Square

Winnipeg, Manitoba
Designing a New Civic Heart

The City of Winnipeg and True North Development had a joint vision to relocate the city’s civic heart to a new site that commemorates loyal sports fans and citizens alike. With this in mind, an unprecedented opportunity to create a unique neighbourhood around a memorable public space was awarded to our studio after winning a national design competition.

Capturing the unique sense and spirit of Winnipeg, True North Square addresses its unique location with a climate-responsive design for a place that will be active year-round, with a specific focus on transforming the character and lifestyle of the downtown sports and entertainment district. The ambitious approach to public realm design provides an array of amenities and open space to create a 24/7 urban experience. Enhanced access to public transit, enclosed waiting spaces, and walkable design are assimilated in this TOD to encourage alternative transport.

true north courtyard
A transformative development that captures the spirit of Winnipeg and establishes the heart of the sports and entertainment district.
Climate Responsive Design

Winnipeg’s climate, with its famously harsh winter conditions and hot, humid summers create the world’s most challenging conditions in a city with a population over 500,000. True North Square embraces this climate while ambitiously proposing a public realm that provides meaningful connections between the urban context and its community. Through a people-first approach, buildings are strategically sculpted so that open spaces capture sunlight while the Skywalk and podia block winds. This allows the square to be a centre of outdoor activity year-round: able to accommodate an outdoor skating or curling rink in winter as well as concerts, farmer’s markets, etc. during the summer.

A view of True North Square showing the pedestrian skybridge in the foreground.
Augmenting the primary pedestrian focus of the project, the Skywalk is designed to be legible, accessible and integrated with the public realm. It also provides access to the neighbouring developments including the Canada Life Centre (home of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets).


Winner of a national design competition, True North Square features an innovative climate-responsive design that provides a year-round amenity and urban experience.

True north ground floor view
Creating a Layered Experience

True North Square’s urban design pays special attention to creating a layered experience that breaks down the large and complex site to a pedestrian scale. The buildings sit on four-storey podia, with active, landscaped rooftops that visually enclose the space and create an intimacy at eye level. Vegetation, granite paving, a programmable water feature, and sculptural wood seating elements are all used to define smaller, more human-scaled spaces within the square.

True North Square successfully reconciles the difficult challenge of creating a place for thousands of people when hosting major events, while maintaining the intimacy and welcoming character that makes it an active, every day urban plaza through all seasons.

Expressing the Curve

The intersecting arc geometry of the square is continued up into the towers above, creating a sculptural architectural response that frames the public realm.

The sinuous curves are repeated in throughout the public realm being revealed in features such as the benches, planters, and the grand stair.


second floor view of true north
Elevating the quality of the public plaza.
Strong street walls and active streetscapes repair the existing
open-block pattern in the area characterized by open parking lots.
“Winnipeg is where Manitoba’s heart beats, and downtown Winnipeg is where Winnipeg’s heart beats. Today we celebrate an investment in the future of this heart. Today, our hearts beat more loudly and with more pride, perhaps, than they did yesterday.”

– Brian Pallister, Former Premier of Manitoba at the Grand Opening of True North Square Plaza


At the heart of Winnipeg’s sports and entertainment district, True North Square welcomes fans during a Winnipeg Jets NHL Hockey game. The climate-responsive design allows True North Square to host events year-round.
winnipeg jets outside true north


Ryan Bragg