Toronto Union Station Revitalization | ?m | ?s | City of Toronto | NORR

Wasn't this covered with a faux skylight? I recall there were lightboxes on the ceiling. It looked fairly nice, but a real skylight would look much better.

What the heck? Why don't I just go there... lol. I'm off to check it out...
There is both a natural skylight and fluorecent lighting in there. There are 2 layers of glass (one on top lets in natural light, one on bottom is the inside ceiling of the station) with the light boxes inbetween. In the day natural light comes in. In the evening there is fake light so people dont bump into each other on their way to the Skywalk.

It isnt really effective in terms of "open, airy" skylight, but does the trick to bring natural light in during the day.

Now, they need to fox the paint job on the ceiling and replace the crap floor.
LP Heritage, proposed an atrium like rounded skylight that extended the feel of the Great Hall and opened up the space from the crampy doctor's hall style feel it has today.
I went yesterday to look at what they had on display for the NW connection to the PATH.

The preferred option heads up north from the NW corner of the building (where the current underground connection to 123 Front is) under York street up to King Street, with connections into the Royal York hotel, 100 Wellington, 70 York Street, 145 King West and Standard Life at 121 King. There will additionally be a street exit outside of the Royal York hotel on York, north of the doors.

Other options either had the PATH heading north up University, or had the exit point from Union station at a different place, either via the Royal York Hotel's current exit, or heading north from 123 Front Street (Citibank building).

They are also suggesting that York street be reduced to two lanes and increasing the side-walk out on the east side of the street into that space, with a cut-in for pick-up at the Royal York Hotel. Other options included no change to York street, completely closing it off to vehicle traffic or going down to 3 lanes.

The skylight refurbishment is actually quite nice, and is more than just ensuring that Union Station doesn't fall down.

I wouldn't mind a paired-down scheme, keep the upper Great Hall the way it is (but finish the refurbishments), and redevelop sections of the rest, like the old CN/CP offices, particuarly the abandoned west wing, or the lower level with retail, like an upscale-looking food court, like Halles de la Gare in Central Station.

The GO Concourse needs a redo. Very very badly.

Yeah, it's like walking back into the 70s. The whole place is hideous, with the puke colored floors and walls. It's kind of depressing!

I definitely think this area of Union needs more attention than the renovations they are doing now.
Will the new corridor be lined with shopping? It would be crazy if it isn't, since that could easily pay for the whole cost. The city shouldn't be paying anything for it. They should let a private developer build it.
From the Post:

Where nobody wants to linger
Report on renovations to go to council Nov. 26
Peter Kuitenbrouwer, National Post
Published: Saturday, October 27, 2007

Under the broken clock in the centre of Union Station stood a sad German tourist. Antje Heinen, an engineer from Munich, had trekked to the station for guidance on points of interest in the city. She found the Travelers' Aid Bureau below the clock with a sign on it: "Sorry, the booth is closed."

"I'm looking for someone who can help me out," she says.

She surveyed the rest of the deserted station: tired marble riddled with cracks; empty ticket counters on the north side, which Via abandoned when it moved to the south side. Some of the counters bear mismatched signs for a lotto centre, currency exchange, Ontario Northland railway and Gray Line buses. She saw Harvey's, but nowhere to get a coffee or a newspaper.

"It's so quiet," she says. "Nice, but strange somehow."

Opened in 1927, Union Station, the Beaux-Arts limestone marvel with a 27-metre ceiling that is Canada's second heritage site (behind only Ottawa's Parliament Buildings), has hit rock-bottom.

Out in front of the station, tattered plywood hoardings bearing the TTC logo wall off a huge section of the plaza and Front Street, snarling traffic but suggesting some progress. Alas, the work sites are vacant --and have been for some time.

"For a year, nothing!" says an outraged Yohannes Tecle, a taxi driver. "No workers."

Gordon Brand, who owns a trucking business, stopped by the Union Station Barber Shop, perhaps the only vestige of the station's former grandeur, to get a haircut from Bruno Villanova, a barber there since 1961.

"When are they going to renovate it?" Mr. Brand asked. "When was it built? I don't think anything has been done since then."

True. Union Station today reminds me of Grand Central Station (1913) when I lived in New York in the early 1990s: a forgotten jewel, grimy and forlorn, to which people ventured only out of necessity. In 1998, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority restored the station. Today, Grand Central bulges with high-end retailers and is a destination for many not catching a train; the MTA says its shops' sales per square foot are double those of the best malls.

San Francisco similarly transformed its Ferry Building with a destination marketplace. In Europe, as Ms. Heinen points out, a train station is a city's grand main entrance. Even Montreal's Gare Centrale is a bustling place with great food.

So what happened in Toronto? It's not like our Union Station is abandoned: With 200,000 passengers a day, it is Canada's busiest transit hub (yes, busier than Pearson airport). But most commuters scurry underground from GO to the TTC, avoiding the Grand Hall as if it were a haunted house. In 2000, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific sold the place to the City of Toronto; as one well-placed source at the station put it, "CN and CP are still laughing about that."

Toronto cut a deal with the Union Pearson Group for a private injection of capital to revitalize the station, but that fell through last year. The deal's collapse, a city back-grounder notes, "provided the city with a new opportunity to review the current status of the station."

In a boardroom on the seventh floor of the East Tower at City Hall, I met the other day with Jodie Parmar, director of business and strategic innovation for the city's real estate division, and Tanner Helmer, a project manager. They are preparing a report on Union Station, to go to the Nov. 26 council meeting.

"My job is to restore the lustre to this national historic site," Mr. Parmar says. "CN and CP allowed the station to run down. If that sad German tourist were to revisit in 2012, 2013, or 2014, she would find a building that is completely revitalized."

Councillors Gloria Lindsay-Luby and Pam McConnell travelled with city staff to New York and Washington, D.C., this summer to check out the success of the train stations

"This could be potentially the premier retail destination in all of Canada," Mr. Parmar says. (The crowds at St. Lawrence Market are proof the city is capable of managing a busy retail destination.)

In the meantime, Mr. Helmer's people have rebuilt the west window in the Great Hall and have $10-million budgeted through 2008. They are right now putting out a call for an architect to restore the marble floor and planning to rebuild the "bridge" -- the plaza that links the building to Front Street. Ottawa has committed $25-million to rebuilding Union Station, but has not yet sent the funds; Mr. Parmar said discussions with Queen's Park continue.

The city has an opportunity to turn Union Station into a showpiece and a profit centre: here's hoping they seize it. In the meantime, I did try to give the German tourist a little guidance. I suggested Chinatown, but she said she frequently travels to China. Finally I steered her to Kensington Market and Little Italy. "Thank you," she said.

© National Post 2007

So does this mean that the city is going at it on its own bit by bit?

While I do prefer that the city maintain control over Union Station -- and the transit functions will benefit in lieu of commercial if private interests were investing -- I wonder how long it would take to reno the entire station.
I also really question how good it's going to look (but I'll bet that Miller campaign chair Jack Diamond will be involved somehow!) with the city renovating it. I'm sure better than the Union Pearson plan which was a sad joke.

They've been blocking off Front Street for a year for nothing!? I thought it had something to do with the subway station project. Is the city nuts?
Pathetic. I had no idea that no work was being done at Union.

Remember back in 2000 when it was grandly announced that expanding the Union subway platform was going to be one of the four main prongs of the waterfront revitalization?
Under the broken clock in the centre of Union Station stood a sad German tourist. Antje Heinen, an engineer from Munich, had trekked to the station for guidance on points of interest in the city. She found the Travelers' Aid Bureau below the clock with a sign on it: "Sorry, the booth is closed."

I think it's unfair to include Traveler's Aid to the sorry state of Union Station. I was at the Arrivals area at 9:30 on a weeknight, and that was the time that the Traveler's Aid booth closed for the day. The volunteer that night was an old woman whom from what I heard from her was very knowledgeable. These people should be commended for doing something useful in their old age (instead of frequenting bingo halls or running down to Florida :) )

As for how to fix up Union Station, I think the first thing the station could work on is lighting. The Great Hall is lit up by that orange (sodium vapour?) lamp chandelier, while white fluorescent lighting is mostly used downstairs. I'd like to see a change in lighting that would make the indoor spaces look and feel better. They can take a look at the spaces in the Royal York Hotel across the street for ideas.
I find it hard to believe that no work has been done on the Union Station second platform.
The Union subway platform is moving forward but s-l-o-w-l-y. It's pretty much the second trickiest project the TTC needs to do (fixing Yonge-Bloor being the champ). The sanitary sewer relocation needs to be completed first, which is scheduled for next month. City of Toronto says design complete in 2008, complete 2012