In a city full of construction projects, there are always a few that stand out from the crowd, and in Toronto right now, one of the most meaningful for the city's future is the ongoing transformation of Union Station. It's been nearly two and a half years since the new GO York Concourse opened at the west end of the station, and work to rebuild the east end of the station where the old GO Bay Concourse was has been underway ever since. It's a slow process, as the floor has had to be dug out while the station continues to function above.

Work progressing where the subway meets the mainline station, image by Craig White

Recently, a new temporary walkway has opened between the exit from Union subway station and the "Front Street Promenade" area which leads to the GO York Concourse. The new walkway is meant to alleviate some crowding at the subway station exit which has been an issue ever since the construction diversions began. Take this route through Union Station, and you'll find yourself in the partially completed "Bay St. Promenade" area, with two-metre-high hoarding lining the passage. Lift a camera above the hoarding, and you'll get a picture of what's going on behind.

Looking southeast through the future "Bay St. Promenade" retail area at Union Station, image by Craig White

The first thing that's evident in the very raw space is how much taller it is than it used to be. The floor was lowered to make it stair-free from the subway, and when it's complete it will provide shop-lined airy hallways for commuters to walk through as they go to or from the trains. The shops in this area of Union Station will most closely resemble the assortment of shops currently found in Toronto's PATH system, with shops focusing on convenience and day-to-day items and gifts.

Looking south through the future "Bay St. Promenade" retail area at Union Station, image by Craig White

At each end of this section, stairs, escalators, and elevators will connect people to Bay Street on the east, the new GO Bay Concourse one floor up to the south (with the PATH network connecting to the Air Canada Centre and the South Core beyond that), the Market area to the southwest, and the Front Street Promenade to the west. The Market area will focus on fresh foods—whether to take home or consume on the spot—from mostly artisanal producers, while the Front Street Promenade area will put independent retailers behind revitalized heritage storefronts. Branded hoardings for several of these retailers are up now, and they include Cabin, Danish Pastry House, Detox Market, Forno Cultura, Greenhouse Juice, LodinG, Naked Beauty Bar, Peace Collective, Pilot Coffee, and Ugly Du'kling.

Looking southwest through the future "Bay St. Promenade" retail area at Union Station, image by Craig White

At the west end of Union Station, work is underway to bring more restaurants and fast food to those visiting the station. In the York Street Promenade area, Union Chicken and Amano pasta bar are currently being kitted out, which downstairs in the Food Court area a number of purveyors have now been identified. They include Bangkok Buri, Loaded Pierogi, McDonald’s, Paramount Fine Foods, Pizza Pizza, Roywoods, Scaccia, Shanghai 360, Sushi Shop, and Tim Hortons. Opening dates for any of retailers have yet to be released.

Looking west up the temporary stairs towards VIA and the GO York Concourse, image by Craig White

At the northwest corner of Union Station, another area being worked on is to be known as the TD Carriageway upon completion. Also known as the Front West moat, this area which will have more food and shopping opportunities is being brought inside from out with an extensive new skylight. 

The frame for the Front Street west moat skylight is nearly ready for glazing, image by Craig White

The frame for the skylight is now built, and most of the pieces are now in place to allow the glazing to be installed, but finishing touches to a drainage channel are still being assembled by construction tradespeople before the glass will go on. (The frame has been erected in a way here so that it rests upon the limestone walls of the station building without damaging the stone.)

A construction worker assembles a drainage channel in the skylight, image by Craig White

It's a huge project, so we will return when there is more news. If you want to know more in the meantime, you will find renderings and diagrams of the plans in our database file for the project, linked below. If you want to talk about it, you can get in on the conversation in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  EllisDon, entro, Entuitive, EVOQ Architecture Inc., IBI Group, NORR Architects & Engineers Limited, RJC Engineers