Two stations that need to be rebuilt

I am not opposed to “modernization” of TTC subway stations. All of them require wheelchair access and other accessibility features. As I am fond of saying, it would be nice if Victoria Park at least had a front door. Subway stations should be renovated from time to time. But such renovation must fully respect and preserve the type and tile heritage of those stations. In other words, no, it doesn’t matter how tall, young, and clean-cut you are, if you run the TTC you don’t have the right to tear down station walls and refinish them in “artificial stone.” (The fact that the tall, young, clean-cut man who runs the TTC is a trained archæologist makes such plans much, much worse.)

I support renovation of old stations. And, just to shock the hell out of you, I support the destruction and complete rebuilding of two of those stations, as long as stringent requirements are met and the results are better and more consistent than the originals.

Knock down Glencairn and Lawrence West...

The two ugliest stations in the system are Glencairn and Lawrence West on the Spadina line. (You could argue that Wilson is almost as bad.) But if a proposed project goes through, we have the opportunity to make these stations as beautiful as Dupont.

Eberhard Zeidler of Zeidler Partnership Architects has proposed a redevelopment of the lands along the Allen Expressway from Eglinton West station to Downsview station, although the area of greatest interest runs from Glencairn to Viewmount Ave. In that area, a new platform would be built on top of the Allen Expressway and the subway line. An entire new community would be built on that platform, with high-rises along the edges and low-rise buildings right on top of the street and tracks. (The project received a perhaps predictable accolade from Christopher Hume.)

I have seen the current plans for this development. I was alarmed at the possibility that Zeidler would act like Jack Diamond and assume he had the right to just knock down the existing stations and rebuild them according to his own whim, as is happening with Museum station. I wrote Zeidler and asked for assurance that would not happen. Zeidler gave me that assurance, emphasizing the need to preserve Toronto’s history.

However, the proposed redevelopment – more redolent of science-fiction terraforming than anything else – would be so huge it would invariably change the structure of those two subway stations. If nothing else, ventilation will significantly change: The stations will no longer be open to the elements at either end. If we’re going to do something that radical and spend that much money, why not go even further?

...and rebuild them as nice as Dupont or Downsview

I want to put up for discussion the possibility of demolishing and completely rebuilding Glencairn and Lawrence West stations. That would only happen in Zeidler’s redevelopment plan and would be acceptable if and only if:

Full accessibility were included
Noncontroversial. Any new subway station has to be accessible.
Public art were included
Also noncontroversial; it is the norm for new stations. But any public art that is more complex than designs on tiles – i.e., anything with a mechanism or that draws power – requires an ironclad maintenance agreement with the TTC, lest the history of Arc-en-ciel repeat itself
The level of architectural excellence bordered on extravagant
These stations have to be as beautiful as Dupont or Downsview, and clearly nicer than the Sheppard-line stations. Build palaces, not shelters
Tile were used for wall surfaces
Tile is the standard for the period in the TTC’s history when the Spadina line was built. Brutalist concrete at various stations, including these two, was always wrong and out of place
The original Spadina-line typography – all Univers all the time – were maintained
Station designations and other permanent markings must be inscribed in the living tile in Univers, exactly matching the other Spadina-line stations. No original TTC typeface and no fake Helvetica

This wouldn’t cost less than $60 million (the budget for the Islington/Kipling redevelopment) but could be money well spent. I have no solution to the problem of what to do while the stations are closed and being rebuilt.