New renderings are offering a glimpse into an upcoming Toronto transit hub that will connect the Lakeshore East and Stouffville GO lines with the under-construction Ontario Line subway, as well as future bus and streetcar routes, all under one roof.
Known as the East Harbour Transit Hub, this multimodal interchange station in the Riverdale neighbourhood is expected to serve about 100,000 daily riders once completed.
The new station is set to include two island platforms with canopies serving GO trains, an enclosed Ontario Line platform and supporting elevated guideways, an elevated track-carrying structure supporting GO tracks and platforms over a station concourse that extends east and west of Broadview, retaining walls, and four plazas.
Renderings depict a floating main station building adorned in fins and bearing the station name.
Pedestrians will enter the station via rather mundane plazas and a minimalist concrete underpass.
Once inside, a main concourse will greet commuters, including a print paying lip service to the Unilever factory that was controversially demolished to make way for the new transit-oriented community.
The GO platforms are shown in renderings with platform shelters and info screens.
The latest design is a significant departure from the grand vision presented in 2016, promising an enormous open-air, multi-level space with a futuristic design, unlike anything that exists in the city.
There are lies, damned lies, and early conceptual renderings. https://t.co/Ja9phwvoha pic.twitter.com/lkkv8tKLjP
— Gil Meslin (@g_meslin) November 10, 2023
Several prominent voices in the urban design community have called out the obvious bait-and-switch, noting that most of the elements that made the initial vision stand out have been value-engineered out of the plan.
Despite the obvious step back from the early designs — which were indeed promoted as concepts — one transit expert has essentially called that initial vision impractical and essentially unbuildable.
Transit expert Reece Martin shared a blog post defending the current vision and noting the challenges the concept design would have faced — most notably running GO’s “soot-belching diesel trains” through a gleaming white vaulted station enclosure.
What Toronto will end up with at East Harbour, while nothing overly impressive, will still prove a vast improvement for transit users.