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York subway stations takes shape

Regional News
November 13, 2008 11:11 PM

By: David Fleischer

It may not be as grand as Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario renovation, but, if you’re willing to look a little deeper, world class architecture is coming to Vaughan.

The TTC has named its selected teams for the design of the Spadina subway extension stations and prominent British firms are set to design the three York Region stops.

“Choosing the best architects working today will signal not only to the world, but to the people of Toronto, that this city cares about excellent public spaces and facilities,” said TTC chairperson Adam Giambrone in a statement.

Employing “starchitects” will lead to increased up-front costs, Spadina extension committee staff said, but each UK firm is teaming with a local company to manage costs.

A better and sustainable design should also lead to long-term savings, they said.

TTC regulations have doubled the percentage of funds alotted to public art, compared to the Sheppard Subway line, from 0.5 to 1 per cent. That line’s design features were curtailed by budget cutbacks, but the goal is to create unique stations united by a “family” of TTC esthetics across the system, staff said.

Designing the Steeles West station is the Spadina Group Associates Team A, represented by Alsop Architects. The British firm is best known locally for the “table on stilts” addition to the Ontario College of Art and Design.

It will have $15 million to spend on design, the biggest budget of all six new stations, working with the local Stevens Group, which has designed other TTC stations.

The design could employ a concept using reflective surfaces to bring natural light into platform and tunnel areas.

Vaughan Corporate Centre’s $12-million design goes to Arup Canada, lead by Grimshaw & Architects.

They have worked extensively at Heathrow Airport and renovating London’s Paddington Station.

Earth Tech Canada, which has offices in Markham, will have $12 million to design the 407 Transitway stop.

Its lead architect is Aedas, whose projects include the renovation of London’s Whitechapel Station, as well as a museum at the reconstructed World Trade Center.

Earth Tech will also build Toronto’s Sheppard West station, while another Arup team works on the York University station.

While pleased with the ambition of the plan, Vaughan Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, whose ward houses the planned stations, expressed frustration she did not know of the decision until after the process was complete.

“It’s imperative that we work together to move things along,” she said.

While TTC is in charge of station design, York Region oversees the design and construction of surface facilities and bus terminals in its territory.

Vaughan is preparing to develop a downtown style corporate centre at the terminus and Ms Racco hopes the designs ensure everything gels with what the city is trying to do.

“I hope they do actually come to us and say, ‘Here’s our design; what do you think?” she said.

The winners were selected from 14 proposals received after a request for proposals published in July.

Preliminary designs should be available for public viewing in June.

Tunnel vision:

  • When the Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street lines open, only about half of all trains will proceed into York Region. Spadina trains will turn around at Steeles Avenue while Yonge trains head south again at Finch station. The goal is to reduce capacity until the need is greater here, ensuring Toronto stations are not overloaded.
  • Regional council, along with both Richmond Hill and Markham, wants to see the Yonge subway’s Richmond Hill Centre terminal located near the current Viva and GO train faciltiies. They will negotiate with the landowner, Metrus, about future development.
  • Staff hopes to have the environmental assessment complete by mid-March 2009; in time for the province’s spring budget.



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