If you have been following UrbanToronto over the last five weekends, there is a good chance that you are expecting us to wrap up our look at the new Spadina line stations this week, as we have reliably counted down five of the six stations over the last five Fridays... but a nasty word for reliability is predictability, and predictability is boring of course. Instead, for a little fun, we're going to run screaming from the predictable and take a look at an overlooked aspect of extending subway lines, and that...

is the emergency exit.

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits

Ever used one? Not likely: over the subway's 57 year history in Toronto there have been, thankfully, very few times when the escape hatches have been necessary. There aren't that many of them on the system either: the TTC has generally only built the exits when the underground distance between stations is greater than one kilometre. I have used an exit once, over 22 years ago, and maybe that's why I am interested in the buildings now. In October of 1988 I took part in an emergency simulation meant to train responders in this city on how to deal with a situation unfolding in the tunnels below the streets. In our case late one Saturday night after service had finished, we were painted up with injuries, taken in a subway train to a spot between two distant stations, and the train was parked, then filled with theatrical smoke. Emergency services were called, and soon enough we were led out the back door of the train, on to the tracks, and then through a doorway in the tunnel and up a winding staircase. Near dawn we exited on to the street here:

Spadina Extension Emergency ExitsGoogle Streetview

The day was saved, but we certainly did not find ourselves anywhere particularly fashionable.

With the extension of the Spadina line towards the north pole, the fashionability of an early return topside is about to change: Stevens / IBI Group Architects has a design that will make an extraordinary surfacing a far more chic affair. There will be six exits built, and you will see from the renderings of the five that we have, that all share the same inner structure and plan. Building in bulk saves some coin of course, so the savings are being poured into eye-catching cladding treatments. We can't think of any doors in town we'd rather be evacuated through. So, let's start the tour, un-narrated, enjoy:

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)

Spadina Extension Emergency Exits (Stevens/IBI Group/TTC)All renderings by Stevens / IBI Group Architects, as found at ttc.ca

There you go, a story for a very small segment of the population: transit geeks who are concerned with the architectural quality of a structure that they may one day, unlikely enough, flee from. We choose to embrace all of our constituents.