By: Alyssa Cerbu, IBI Group
The following is a recap of one of the 11 city tours that made up ULI Toronto’s Symposium 2018. On November 7th, hundreds of urban professionals from the region and beyond came together to explore the leading edges of North America’s fastest growing metropolis, exposing the contemporary tensions and innovative approaches to building a global city region.
On November 7th, as part of the Urban Land Institute’s Symposium 2018, a group of urban enthusiasts joined the design team behind the new Crosslinx stations for an exclusive, backstage tour. The tour was organized by the Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC). The objective was to explore aspects of the design process in Canada’s largest transit project. The group boarded a tour bus to the future Mount Dennis Light Rail Transit (LRT) stop in the morning to hear about the project from the construction and design teams. Afterwards, the bus headed to the IBI Group offices to learn more about the design process that was crucial in delivering this complex work in progress.
When the tour arrived at the Mount Dennis station, they were greeted by a group of representatives from Crosslinx. This team is responsible for overseeing project management and construction for not only Mount Dennis, but all of the new 15 LRT stations. The group put on their safety gear and embarked on the tour of the new multi-modal hub. The first two stops on the active construction site allowed the group to imagine what the future station would look like. In particular, the group walked around the future pedestrian pick-up and drop-off zone as well as the bus terminal.
Next, the group was taken through the main LRT station area, which features a unique design integrating the heritage Kodak factory building. It was learned that the Kodak factory, a heritage building, was incredibly significant for the Mount Dennis neighbourhood, and was therefore preserved and utilized as the centrepiece in the final design of the station.
As the group headed to track level, they learned that new windows were added to the Kodak building to allow light to travel from the station to track level. In fact, natural light is a crucial design element across all the new LRT stations to create a more welcoming, user-friendly experience and promote safety and visibility at track level. Another consistent element across all stations is the incorporation of public art. At the Mount Dennis station, this will be featured at the top of the escalators that lead users from the station to the LRT track level.
The tour also showed how precise the staging is for a transit project. At all of the new LRT stations, for instance, the tracks must be laid out in order to then add the yellow platform edging tiles to then complete the rest of the tiling in the station. The tour concluded by a short look at renderings of the proposed station designs before heading to the next stop, the IBI Group offices.
At the IBI Group offices, a number of presentations were given by various members of the IBI Group design team, including transit architects, urban designers, and user experience designers. There was also a presentation from the design lead at Entro on the way-finding and signage concepts. It was stressed that the design team wanted to ensure legibility, similarity and architectural continuity across all 15 stations and 10 unique stops. At the same time, however, it was stressed that each station should have its own unique identity. Particularly, the design team won the bid because of their commitment to consistent design and focus on the passenger experience.
The presentations stressed the importance of a coordinated yet customizable approach to designing the stations. It was emphasized that every single facet of design had to be staged, prototyped and coordinated within each individual station as well as across all of the new stations.
The afternoon wrapped up with a panel of design leaders sharing their insights on the anticipated impacts of the project. The panel was moderated by Alex Bozikovic, Architecture Critic of the Globe and Mail.
Overall, design excellence and taking a systemwide approach to implementing the project is at the centre of the Eglinton Crosstown project. The team constructed mock ups, tested details and confirmed, improved and finalized the design. Additionally, they successfully incorporated a heritage asset at the Mount Dennis site through incorporating the existing Kodak factory building. Lastly, through construction, they future-proofed the whole line by incurring the extra cost to tunnel underneath the existing rail line, which adds the ability to extend the line westward at a later point. The group had an excellent day learning about the complexities of transit design at the future Mount Dennis LRT Station and IBI Group offices and looks forward to visiting the stations once they are complete!
Thank you to the Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) for organizing this tour.