Updated January 24: A video showing the proposed new layout of the eastern GO Concourse is available on the City of Toronto’s Union Station site.
The virtual tour starts looking down into the moat from Front Street at the east end of the bridge linking the sidewalk to the station building. Note that the moat is at a lower level than today and provides a direct path with no stairs between the subway mezzanine and the new lower level of Union Station. Although the moat is shown with no cover in this video, there will be a transparent cover over this area to protect from weather and to prevent water and snow buildup in the crossing. Also, the number of entrances through the north wall of the station will be greater than today to handle the large pedestrian volumes between the subway and the railway station.
The tour “flies in” through the north doors to the new concourse level. This is in the same space as the existing GO concourse, but at a lower elevation giving a very high space for this entrance area. The point of view pans west toward the centre block of the building. Although it is not immediately obvious, there will be a stair up to the concourse under the great hall. There is already a change in elevation at this location, but it will be greater because the east concourse will now be lower. There will also be a connection into the Via Arrivals level.
The tour pans back and looks toward the east wall where you can see a stairway up to the east teamway. This is roughly where the exit to the teamway south of Front is located today.
Next, the tour flies south to the escalators up to the new GO concourse level. In the video, all six of the escalators are running “up”, but in practice this would be adjusted depending on flow conditions. At this point you can see the diagonal undersides of some of the connections up to track level. This design gives more open space than a simple box with a stairway inside it.
After we fly up the escalators, the view shifts to look back to the north and eventually comes back to the north end of the concourse. The layout, with the escalators a considerable distance south of the subway connection, is designed to spread out the pedestrian flows. In the original design, this connection was further north and the pedestrian modelling revealed that there would be congestion problems. My shifting the escalator south, GO passengers enter the concourse in roughly the middle of the space rather than at one end, and travellers waiting for trains on this level don’t block people trying to continue further south. Schedule and departure information screens are provided throughout the concourse to avoid congestion problems with many people clustering around few screens.
Finally, the tour looks down into the lower concourse from north to south, toward the bank of escalators.
The original post follows the break below.
December 2, 2008
City Council has approved the sale of a portion of the West Wing of Union Station to GO Transit, and given GO the right of first refusal on the lease of any additional office space that may come available in the building. This is a reference to the East Wing now occupied by the Bank of Nova Scotia on a lease that expires in the next decade.
The Staff Report With Confidential (now public) Attachment includes diagrams of areas to be sold and leased.
The arrangement is a “strata sale” in which portions of the complex are owned by GO and part by the City. GO Transit already owns the tracks and trainshed including airspace to the top of that shed. The city owns the space under the tracks (the concourse area) and above the trainshed.
The office space in parts of the West Wing is unchanged from its original condition, and some aspects of it are subject to a heritage easement with Parks Canada. (That easement deals mainly with the public areas of the building such as the Great Hall.)
There is an extensive presentation about plans for the station. A few points worth noting:
- Page 8: The statistics about Union Station usage are worth reiterating. Today, Union Station handles 65 million passengers every year, twice as many as Pearson Airport. With projected increases in GO Transit (two times by GO’s plans, four times by Metrolinx’ plans), this will rise to over 100 million passengers a year. No other regional hub comes close to this level of demand.
- Page 12: The GO Concourse area will be increased by almost a factor of four from 30K to 110K square feet.
- Pages 15-19: Union Station forms a vital focal point for many developments that exist or are in various stages of development. The new Union Plaza will create a south door to the building and access to new developments that previously could only be reached by walking under the railway viaducts.
- Pages 21-24: GO Transit’s new Atrium Roof over the central section of the trainshed will transform the feel of the platform area and provide a visual focus for this part of the station.
- Page 26: This shows the existing layout of the public areas of the concourse level. Note how much space is unused in the east and west wings. The south end of the east wing was formally used as part of the postal terminal, and the space in the west wing is primarily used today for rental car parking.
- Page 27: The revised concourse level is for the most part at a lower elevation than the current concourse. This will be accomplished by a “dig down” to a new lower level. Although it is not immediately obvious in the drawing, the sections labelled York Street and Front Street Promenade are the existing concourse under the main station building, but the additional space will be opened up to provide much better capacity for pedestrian flow. The Bay Street Promenade and the areas under the tracks (mainly retail) are at the new lower level, and this provides direct access across a lowered section of the Moat to the existing fare control level of Union Subway Station.
- Page 28: This shows the existing and planned floor levels in cross-section in the eastern section of the station.
- Page 29: This is the upper level of the station including the Great Hall, the two wings and the new Concourse areas under the tracks. The Via Concourse is at its existing level.
- Page 39: View looking west through the Bay Street Promenade from the Teamway Access. The doors at the bottom of the stairway open onto the lowered Moat and thence to Union Subway Station. The escalators in the background take people back up to the existing Concourse level under the Great Hall. To the left is the new retail area.
- Page 40: View looking north through the Bay Street Concourse. The far end of this view is the set of doors out to the Moat and subway that were to the right of the previous view.
- Page 41: View looking south through the upper level of the Bay Street Concourse. The escalators in the previous view are in the distance of this one.
- Page 42: The new Moat crossing from the subway to the railway station.
The City expects to have a proposal for leasing of the commercial space by March 2009.