At the October 1st meeting of the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP), the Crosstown LRT's architectural aesthetic was thoroughly laid out by representatives of Metrolinx and by the IBI Group, the design-engineering joint venture partner of SNC Lavalin, as part of the Crosslinx consortium who will Design Build Finance and Maintain the new rapid transit line set to open along 19 kilometres of Eglinton Avenue in 2021. Crosslinx is made up of ACS Infrastructure Canada, Aecon, EllisDon, SNC-Lavalin, and Dragados Canada. 

The cohesive design language developed for the line and the in-progress station and stop designs it has guided, was presented before the panel for its one and only appearance, after general principles were hammered out at the panel a number of times over the preceding years. The station design principles prioritize an abundance of natural light, as well as spacious layouts that foster intuitive passenger circulation throughout each station. The Metrolinx presentation also emphasized a strong commitment to sustainability and public realm improvement, elucidating a cohesive conceptual narrative for a transit network that aspires to become "an international signature for Toronto."

A light-filled, spacious station entrance epitomizes the LRT's design principles, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The Crosstown stations are designed in a minimalist 'glass box/mechanical box' configuration (below), with the large, light-filled glass boxes serving as passenger access, while the concrete mechanical boxes will provide a highly visible forum for public art—to which $10 million has been committed. The glass boxes are designed to allow for natural light to spill down into the station below, making for a smooth and inviting transition underground, while the mechanical boxes hide the nitty-gritty of such things as air and power supply for the station and trains below. 

Bathurst Station, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Inside, the stations are designed according to principles of "clarity and simplicity of architectural expression," with clean, minimalist spaces at platform level. Notes of orange colour are visible throughout the renderings (below), knitting together an identity for the upcoming LRT line.

Keele Station interior, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The Crosstown is also to be represented in Orange on future TTC maps, with a preliminary map of "Line 5" recently surfacing (below). The map also features some newly proposed, landmark oriented station names (not reflected in the renderings), such as Aga Khan & Eglinton, as well as Science Centre.

A preliminary map of "Line 5," image courtesy of Metrolinx

While the glassy underground station entrances will serve as a conscpicous and luminescent wayfinding tool, the surrounding areas are designed to enliven the public realm, making the stations an appealing part of the streetscape. Each entrance is fronted by textured pavingreferred to as an "urban carpet"that negotiates the transition between the street and the underground, while bicycle parking, tree groving, and ornamental grass, surround the main entrances (below). Planters for the trees and ground cover will be simple rectangles in dense urban locations, and more freeform in less dense park settings such as in the image below.

A look at the landscaping components, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Some stations, such as Allen Road and Dufferin, also incorporate public plazas into their design. While the design for Dufferin Station includes a revamped public square at the southwest corner of the intersection, Allen Station will knit together the Crosstown entrances and the existing Eglinton West subway station through an expanded plaza that reaches out across the foot of the Allen Road (below).

A large public plaza knits together the new Allen Road interchange station, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Yonge Station—which stands out as the LRT's most centrally located and densely surrounded stationwill also accommodate an expanded public space, with the main entrance (located at the northeast edge of the old bus bay) set back from the street to accommodate a small plaza. Yonge Station is also unique for its extensive structural enhancements, with reinforced concrete pillars allowing for future development of up to 30 storeys to take place directly above it. 

A rendering of Yonge Station, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Many of the stations—including Laird (below)—also feature retail components, which will help incorporate the new structures into the urban context, linking the transit network's facilities with the city around it. As with the light-filled design and public plazas, the inclusion of retail serves to incorporate transit into a pleasant urban lifestyle. The LRT and its stations are not just designed to provide transport between points A and B, but to do so in a more humane and comfortable manner. 

Laird Station will feature a retail component, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Each of the stations is also sensitively designed to fit the urban scale of the surrounding area, rising to meet the height of the streetwall around it. The cohesive design aesthetic—characterized by kinetically sloped glass alongside rectilinear concrete—meanwhile, creates what Metrolinx calls a 'signature' for the system (as exemplified above), making the stations recognizable and eye-catching part of the urban landscape. Of note, the Design Review Panel was very happy with what it saw.

We will return with a more in-depth look at the Crosstown's at-grade stations and components—which are set to include green trackways—as well as an analysis of the extensive landscaping and facilities at Mount Dennis. For more information, make sure to check out dataBase files, linked below. Want to share your thoughts on the designs? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or join in the discussions in one of our Forums, linked below.

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