Nine years into construction and commuter confusion at Union Station, the Downtown Toronto transit hub's  revitalization has been overshadowed by missed deadlines, contractor woes, and a swelling price tag. Despite the negative attention though, sections that have opened have been received well, and progress continues behind the hoarding in other areas. A media tour this morning, led by Frank Molinari, Manager of Capital Construction for the City of Toronto, provided an update on the massive project.

Union Station, image by Jack Landau

The first place visited was the Front Street west moat—recently re-branded as 'TD Carriageway'—where a new glass and steel skylight now shelters the space from the elements. It will be lined with retail, with finishings designed by Partisans for Union's retail developer Osmington. Covering the moats—including the Front Street east moat and the York and Bay Street moats—IS a combined 26,000 ft² of glazing supported by 437 metric tonnes of steel.

Front Street west moat at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

The new food court below the GO York Concourse opened at the end of 2018, and has proven to be very popular. It joined a handful of fast food counters on the concourse level itself and sit-down restaurants in an area called the Front Street promenade to the north of it. The addition of even more food and shopping options will cement the station as a destination, instead of just a conduit to other destinations. Aside from the moat-fronting spaces shown above, another significant space is the upcoming Fresh Market, a curated collection of independent retail spaces that represent the unique qualities of different neighbourhoods around the city, offering what was described to media as "the best of Toronto without leaving the station." Located before the VIA Concourse, Fresh Market vendors will be geared towards (but not exclusive to) food products for people to take home with them.

Future Fresh Market at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

Osmington expects the Fresh Market space to be turned over in just over a year, with an exact date to be announced in the near future. In the meantime, the space is in a state of flux, with a healthy mix of finished surfaces and raw construction areas with exposed concrete, plumbing, and electrical. Work on this area of the station is expected to wrap up late this year.

Future Fresh Market at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

In contrast to the independent offerings that will be found at the Fresh Market area, another new retail area is taking shape at the east end of the station beside Bay Street and directly below the coming GO Bay Concourse. It is set to house a selection of national and international brands typically found in a mall. Which retailers will fill this area are still under wraps.

Future retail area below Bay Concourse at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

This retail area is expected to be among the last to open to the public as part of the revitalization, expected for mid-2020. While the area remains in a relatively raw state for now, the first escalators have been installed and final finishes should start to materialize in the coming months. It's worth noting that, like the food court below the GO York Concourse, this entire area is under the original basement level and had to be excavated out from below the active station.

Future retail area below Bay Concourse at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

The escalators shown above lead up to the new GO Bay Concourse, now looking entirely different from the 1970s look that the original GO Concourse sported when it closed in 2015. Replacing the old concourse's tired aesthetic, the new concourse's materials all mirror the finishes of the GO York Concourse at the station's west end.

Bay Concourse at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

Work is quite far along here, with lighting and finishes in place as well as stairs and elevators leading up to platform level. Up above, the City and Metrolinx have been cooperating to coordinate the necessary surface-level work overnight in an effort to minimize disruption to commuter traffic.

Bay Concourse at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

Up at ground level just east of the Great Hall (north of the GO Bay Concourse), Osmington was keeping tight lipped about a space now beginning to take shape in the East Wing. While we asked both Osmington and City representatives who might be coming to this space, both declined to comment. At torontounion.ca however, clicking on the East Wing floor plan brings up a note which says "A beautiful room that continues the opulence and grandeur of the Great Hall. Strategically located at the heart of the financial district, this space will become home to a high-profile signature restaurant."

Unnamed retail space in the East Wing of Union Station, image by Jack Landau

This area is separated from the Great Hall via a restored skylight which will serve as a grand entrance to it.

Skylight in the East Wing of Union Station, image by Jack Landau

An opening in the floor was created below the skylight to allow natural light to penetrate down to the new Bay Street Promenade retail area below.

Looking down below the skylight in the East Wing of Union Station, image by Jack Landau

While not a major construction area, the Great Hall—Union Station's crown jewel—is also a work in progress, with finishing touches happening behind the scenes. The space is looking better than ever, with extensive masonry work carried out to refresh the original Zumbro stone and marble floor tiles. A tourist kiosk has been relocated to the south side of the hall, while hoarding covers off the north end where former ticketing windows are being replaced by new restaurant space. New lighting is still to come.

Great Hall at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

The City projects full completion of the project by Q3 2020, meaning that it will be only 16 more months before the revitalization saga comes to a close. 

Additional information and images can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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Related Companies:  Carillion PLC, City of Toronto, entro, Entuitive, EVOQ Architecture Inc., Hatch, Metrolinx, NORR Architects, PARTISANS, Priestly Demolition Inc., RJC Engineers, Zeidler Partnership Architects