Another piece of the massive redevelopment of Toronto's Union Station has opened today, providing those transiting through the station—or those nearby who simply want to grab bite to eat—a number of new options to tackle their thirst or hunger. One level below the GO York Concourse, the Union Food Court opened for business at 7 AM. With 600 seats and 10 food retailers spread across 25,000 square feet, the new options expand upon what's already available from the handful of retailers on the floor above, while providing the tables where people can eat more easily.

Union Station Food Court, overlooked by the GO York Concourse, TorontoThe central area of the Food Court, overlooked by the GO York Concourse, image by Craig White

Curated by retail developer Osmington, the food court includes market leaders like McDonalds, Tim Hortons, and Pizza Pizza, along with lesser known but proven local fast service food retailers Shanghai 360, Loaded Pierogi, Paramount, Sushi Shop, Roywoods, and Bangkok Buri. Scaccia will join that list in a few weeks time, while an eleventh retailer is still to be chosen by Osmington to complete the mix here.

Bangkok Buri, one of the new restaurants in the Union Station Food Court TorontoBangkok Buri, one of the new restaurants in the Union Station Food Court, image by Craig White

While the massive Union Station development as a whole is being overseen architecturally by NORR with FGMDA (undergoing a name change to Evoq) handing heritage elements, the design of the food court's spaces is under the wing of PARTISANS. Famous for their curvaceous forms and use of textural materials to impart warmth, whimsy, and the human touch, PARTISANS' most obvious contribution here are the cloud-like pods that hang from the ceiling. Most clearly lighting fixtures, within each pod is also hidden the HVAC equipment to keep the place comfortable, and fire sprinklers. With the actual ceiling blacked out above them, Alex Josephson of PARTISANS told us "the Pressurized Ocular Diffusers gained the station 3 feet extra ceiling space."

Looking through a section of the Union Food Court, image by Craig WhiteLooking through a section of the Union Food Court, image by Craig White

The light coming out of the diffusers is a warm yellow-white, with some being a brighter, purer white. They are LED though, so the colour can be changed to match theme days. Union could turn many of the lights blue on Leafs game days for example, red for the Raptors or Canada Day, etc.

PARTISANS-designed fixtures and furniture are found throughout the Food CourtPARTISANS-designed fixtures and furniture are found throughout the space, image by Craig White

The diffusers are not PARTISANS only industrial design down here though: it's all put together to create an inviting space. Chairs are all ribbed-back aluminum in three colours, while table tops may be light or dark wood. A series of bar-height tables formed wth steel and wood make the most dramatic statement. Reminiscent of the metalwork in the train shed a couple floors above, the tables feature welcoming dark wood tops which are supported by muscular steel legs wth curving corners, secured to the floor with four oversized bolts at each end. Half of the table tops feature green resin inserts pocked with electrical outlets for our increasingly army of laptop-toting commuters.

Wow and steel bar-height tables with sockets, Union Station Food Court, TorontoWow and steel bar-height tables with sockets, image by Craig White

The manufactured green counterpoints nicely with the natural wood grain… and ties in with the TD Banks's branding of many elements within the station: if you're charging up your computer before jumping a train home, you'll know which financial institution to thank. If you want to charge your phone, the USB ports are just one level up, same licensing agreement providing your mobile juice.

Hallway towards the future Fresh Market area of Union Station, TorontoHallway towards the future Fresh Market area of Union Station, image by Craig White

Besides its initial access from the GO York Concourse, the Food Court will soon have access to the York East Teamway pedestrian passage (to the west, ironically), and then to the Union Station Fresh Market to the east. Osmington has not set a date for the market's opening yet, but in the works is an area where you'll be able to pick up items to take home to make dinner. Purveyors are still to be announced, but Osmington foresees "Thinly sliced charcuterie, farm-fresh veg, crispy baguette, and a bottle of Ontario pinot noir [that] are begging to be brought home and served up" as examples of the offerings.

Concept rendering of the Fresh Market area at Union Station by PARTISANSConcept rendering of the Fresh Market area by PARTISANS

Union Station already has other eating opportunities. Full service restaurants include Amano Pasta, Union Chicken, and within the next several weeks, Wvrst. A number of shops in the station's 'Front Street Promenade' area sell such items as danishes, cinnamon buns, biscotti, smoothies, and coffee. A handful of places in the GO York Concourse include McCafe, Starbucks, Booster Juice, The Bagel Stop, and Uncle Tetsu. Union Mercado and International News carry convenience items. Further into the future, a fine dining restaurant is being built into the north side of the Great Hall.

The Food Court opens at 7 AM on weekdays and 10 AM on weekends, and will be open to 10 PM every night.

We will be back with more from Union Station as more pieces of the $800 million puzzle are revealed. In the meantime, you will find many renderings of what's to come in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get in on the conversation? You can join in via the associated Forum thread link (where you will also find many more shots from the food court opening), or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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