When Union Station opened to the public in 1927, at a grand ceremony featuring none other than the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII, the people of Toronto were ecstatic in their celebration of the beautiful, new station which had been more than twenty years in the making. The third iteration to bear that name, the new Union Station had been built alongside the second, 1878-built station, causing a chaotic scene for commuters, one which would be all too familiar today to the crowds that must everyday pass through the ongoing construction that began back in 2009. When all of the historic revitalization work, along with the brand new York and Bay concourses, the addition of the UPX platform, along with a host of other upgrades are complete sometime in 2017, the public will once more be able to take pride in what will arguably be Canada's most beautiful railway station. 

How the $640 million revitalization will appear from the outside when complete, note the glassed-in moat which will run almost continuously around the Bay, Front, and York Street sides of the building:

Union Station, Toronto, Norr Architects, MetrolinxUnion Station Revitalization, Front Street West, image courtesy of NORR Architects

For now, however, UrbanToronto would like to take its readers through a recent walk-through of the station, and provide some important construction progress updates along with several new photos of the work now underway. Beginning with the exterior of the station, while the Bay, Front, and York Street moats have yet to be fitted with their glass canopies, the area has been somewhat cleaned up, allowing for smoother pedestrian traffic from one concourse to the other—for the time being. 

Union Station, Toronto, Norr Architects, MetrolinxThe stairs leading to the Bay Concourse may soon be demolished to make way for the glass canopy, image by Craig White

After the Parapan Am Games are done, expect some areas of the station to get much messier again as the Bay Concourse closes for its rebuild. The stairs above will start to disappear, and people heading for GO Trains will be rerouted through the Front Street Moat, below, and some interior passages.

Union Station, Toronto, Norr Architects, MetrolinxFront Street moat ready for its facelift, image by Craig White

Planners are hoping that more GO Train passengers will enter the station from the west, and while work continues on building to the right and eventually the York Street Moat will be glassed over, it's now accessible from new stairs from the sidewalk and from the new Northwest PATH tunnel under Front Street.

Union Station, Toronto, Norr Architects, MetrolinxYork Street, looking North, image by Craig White

Transitioning into the station, refurbished heritage features, such as the shiny, new doors, adorned with gleaming, brass kick-plates and hardware, greet commuters, as seen at the York Street Promenade entrance below:

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxRefurbished heritage doors greet commuters, York Promenade, image by Craig White

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxInside the York Street Promenade, complete with new PATH map, image by Craig White

Work on the York Concourse began first. Inside it, the modern, soft-white tile finishes—a motif consistent with the recently opened second subway platform to the north—provide commuters with a pleasant, airy space, one which will offer a host of new retail and dining options, first to include Booster Juice, McDonald's, and INS on the GO Concourse level. Eventually the retail level below will open with many more food options for eating there, taking home, and many other stores.

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxLooking down at the York GO Concourse retail level , image by Craig White

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxThe future home of Booster Juice, York Concourse, image by Craig White

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxThe new McDonald's location, along with the future site of INS, York Concourse, image by Craig White

Though much of the heritage revitalization budget will be spent on the restoration of the stone throughout the station interiors, as well as the labour-intensive cleaning of the exterior facades, subtle touches such as the aforementioned brass details on the new doors, have been paired with handsome new brass rails, which give passers-by a gentle reminder of the building's historic grandeur:

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxBrass rails shine below the Great Hall, image by Craig White

Once complete, the Union Station Revitalization will have transformed the admittedly tired, Beaux-Arts pile, into a inspirational space for the city's many commuters, and those passing through the station from one side of the expanding core to another. A newly shining entrance into the city, Union Station will offer commuters and local office workers with more than just a transit hub; the revitalized building will in essence become a destination unto itself. 

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxCommuters lining up for tickets, image by Craig White

Union Station, Toronto, NORR Architects, MetrolinxUnion Station as it will appear once complete, a grand entrance into the heart of the city, image courtesy of NORR Architects

UrbanToronto will continue to keep its readers posted on the ongoing Union Station Revitalization. Check the dataBase for many additional renderings of this project, while the associated Forum thread link will take you to the latest posts on the revitalization. You get can in on the discussion there, or add your comment in the space provided on this page.