With over 250,000 commuters, including 155,000 GO passengers passing through every business day, Union Station is Canada’s busiest transportation hub. The bulk of that traffic passes through the rustic steel and wood train shed, built between 1929 and 1930, from a widely produced design by American engineer Abraham Lincoln Bush (no, not the President). The depression-era train shed was designed as a completely utilitarian structure, meant to serve as a model of efficiency with aesthetics taking a back seat to function, unlike the grand and monolithic Beaux-Arts style terminal building directly to the north.

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoView of new glass atrium from Union Station's south entrance, image by forum member MafaldaBoy

Almost 85 years have passed since the completion of the train shed. Since then the structure has deteriorated significantly, owing to generations of diesel exhaust, soot, and corrosion from rain and road salt. In that same timeframe, the land surrounding the rail corridor has seen an exodus of industrial properties followed by a subsequent large-scale wave of commercial and residential high-rise development encroaching from all sides.

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoNew glass atrium seen from track level at Union Station, image by forum member MafaldaBoy

The resulting increased commuter traffic coupled with the aforementioned decaying infrastructure have led Metrolinx, GO, the TTC, and all three levels of government, to invest in a massive revitalization project of the entire station. Work on the upgrades, which include a new concourse, improved tracks, and a refreshed train shed and atrium, started in January of 2010. The glass atrium will replace the middle fifth of the Bush shed, while the eastern and western two-fifths each will be restored. Though the project isn’t expected to be fully complete until 2016, construction work on the upgraded Bush shed is speeding along.

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoNew glass atrium seen from track level at Union Station, image by forum member MafaldaBoy

The 71,000-square foot, Zeidler Partnership-designed glass atrium floats 2 storeys above the historic Bush shed roof and is supported by 48 canted steel columns. Clear-glass louvered walls will be suspended from the frame allowing both fresh air and natural light to permeate the once dark desolate train platforms.

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoInside of the new glass atrium, seen from track level at Union Station, image by forum member MafaldaBoy

Taking Union Station’s high-rise surroundings into consideration, plans are in the works to retrofit the remaining portions of the Bush shed with a green roof and solar panels, sure to be a welcome sight for the thousands of nearby office workers subjected to the current dog’s breakfast of mismatched panels.  Once completed, the upgraded Union Station is expected to serve as a grand entrance to Downtown Toronto for generations to come.

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoAerial view of the roof of the Bush shed and new atrium, image by Jack Landau

Union Station Revitalization Zeidler Partnership GO TorontoRendering of the new atrium's interior, image courtesy of Zeidler Partnership

Looking for more information? A comprehensive collection of renderings and additional facts regarding the Union Station Revitalization can be found at the project’s associated dataBase page, linked below. To get involved in the discussion, please visit the related forum thread, here, or voice your opinion in the comments section below.