Today I attended a press conference at a blustery and loud Pape station – right on the bus platform between the 72 stop and the unique and underused waiting room – for TTC’s planned subway-station “modernizations.” I have posted TTC’s renderings of these modernizations.

The TTC itself was barely able to transport me from Leslieville to Pape station in time. I noted all the usual suspects – the only two people who think current TTC signage is any good, Gary Webster and tarnished wunderkind Adam Giambrone; Rahul Bhardwaj from the Toronto Community Foundation, the shysters who are inducing the TTC to spend $5 million on “cost-shared” renovations to stations that will turn them into children’s confectionery; the TTC’s media rep, who claimed, absurdly, not to speak for Giambrone; John Sepulis of operations; and a supervisor I will talk about in a later posting. David Lawson, billed as a “designer,” was also there and would later helpfully answer every one of my questions.

You’d be surprised how many of the others completely avoided my gaze or pretended I wasn’t there. However, I in turn specifically did not go up and talk to them. I was there to report. I shot photographs.

Adam Giambrone stares at BlackBerry in his palm as people stream by on a subway platform

Giambrone CrackBerrying under the signs he approves of

I took more notes than anybody. Here they are.

I stood with the cub reporters from the Tubby blog and Torontoist. Everyone was handed SUBWAY MODERNIZATION pins. I smelled Blackett, but according to the media doyenne, it was an inside job. She waxed romantic for several minutes about how the jobs of so many people at the TTC are purely functional, they jump at the chance “to design a logo.” I pointed out a logo does next to nothing and is tits on a bull. “We all thought it looked fresh and subway-like.”

The 3:00 P.M. press conference started right on time at 1515 hours.

  1. Giambrone: We’re starting a five-year program to modernize nine stations. The subway is over 50 years old. “Many of the stations date from the 1960s, not [from] the very beginning of the subway” when it went from Union to Eglinton in the ’50s.

    “Despite the best efforts of our staff” for state of good repair and cleanliness, “the fact is some of them simply need to be redone.” Not the new ones, of course: Downsview is “a work of art,” while stations like Pape are “showing their age.”

    TTC, on its own initiative, is renovating three stations: Pape, Dufferin, and “Bloor & Yonge” (actually just Yonge). It will take three years to complete design and construction. All will be accessible; the entire system will be accessible by 2020. [He failed to note that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act forced that very late deadline.] John is trying to speed that up. Some stations need up to three elevators at $5 million to $6 million just for those. It’s a $250 million project to make the subway accessible.

    At the same time, we take care of all major capital work, like leaky ceilings, and we install second entrances or exits (as required by the new building code). The second exit will only be an exit at Pape.

    We evaluated stations that needed the most work. We plan to reno one station a year “predominantly.”

    We’re also doing Vic Park, which was originally a structural rehabilitation due to damaged concrete. Opened in the mid-’60s. Parking had to be redone. We were spending “tens of millions of dollars” anyway, and we slightly increased the budget for a full renovation.

    All will have public art.

    Kipling/Islington: We’re moving Mississauga Transit bus bays to Islington [which is a bone of contention, he failed to note]. That will be $58 million. [He later says $56 million.] It will also make room for an SNC Lavalin skyscraper that will account for 1,400 jobs. The bus bays “too are looking a little tired.”

    Vic Park will cost $46 million. Dufferin, “Bloor & Yonge,” Pape: $6 million each, excluding elevators or major reconstructions already accounted for in other budgets. Toronto Community Foundation projects: $5 million each. It’s an over-$100-million project.

    Toronto Community Foundation: There are a number of corporate citizens who would be interested in enhancing the public realm in Toronto. IT’s hard for TTC to do this on its own. Museum station renovation has already begun, “also Osgoode station and St. Patrick’s.” It’s a 75%/25% split, and of course we also supported it quite a bit with design and engineering staff.

    Our next decision will involve other opportunities that do not present themselves today. It’s a 30-year project to redo all stations – then at that point it might be necessary to do it all over again. [Inexact paraphrase, but that is the exact sense of what he said.]

  2. Rahul Bhardwaj: In 2005, Toronto Community Foundation put together Toronto Dialogues. [As the URL is 100 characters long and seems to be an unstable address spontaneously and evanescently custom-generated by a Microsoft server, I’m not going to link to it.] Torontonians believe TTC space is public space. But, through normal wear and tear, some stations no longer “represent the vibrancy of Toronto.” Museum station “is going to be remarkably refurbished.” It harmonizes very much with the station-modernization program.

  3. We did a station walkthrough with Giambrone and his merry band of ducklings.

    Giambrone: Finishes will all be similar. We have a security problem with people walking across the driveway to the bus bay, as they are doing right now. We’ll extend the entrance, which has other problems, like it’s too small, especially in the winter when people are waiting. We have an open-air bus bay; we will extend the current roof over it. More glass.

    “Trying to heighten the profile. Right now this looks like a Tim Hortons store…. It’s hard to tell there’s a station here.”

    New floor, lighting, brick casings with artificial stone to match the interior. [He mused inexactly about some kind of “green space,” implying it would be enclosed.] Cladding pillars in a kind of brushed stainless steel. (Waiting room to be eliminated from its current state as “an isolated section.”) Replace all tiles with artificial stone in much bigger panels.

    (What about signage?) “We will be protecting some of the heritage features of Pape,” which will go to Toronto Archives. Signs saying “Pape” are the ones he’s talking about, he later clarifies under questioning from Tess Kalinowski of the Star.

  4. Downstairs: Ugly ceiling slats will go. They’re drop ceilings that will be replaced, but “piping” will be exposed.

    David Lawson answered some of my questions: Still a terrazzo floor. New lighting system is at the same time “unclear as yet” and the same as is used at Sheppard. No exposed concrete walls as at Sheppard. [“I like those. They’re honest.” Lawson: “I agree, but.”] There will be only two elevators, one that takes you to “concourse” level and to westbound trains, the other from concourse to eastbound. They have another manufacturer for their trademark, and tested, yellow platform-edge-marker tiles.

    Giambrone, again under questioning from Tess: “Our designs for signs – of course we’ll be redesigning our signs to our code.” Lawson: “There’s an early example at Downsview station.” (Later:) “We found that the city is filled with a lot of people who are interested in its history.”

    Artworks: They’re working with the local BIA [a recipe for disaster]. We don’t have a design yet because it is to be incorporated into the walls. It will be vetted by the city’s Art Design Review Committee [a body that does not have a Web page]. The artist is Allan Harding Mackay. Lawson: It isn’t an artist running away with an idea. Giambrone (very quickly after that statement): “But at the same time, it gives an artist a chance to work on a concept.”

  5. A woman walks by and yells at Giambrone: “Don’t raise the Metropass! It’s high enough as it is!”

  6. Lawson: As much construction as possible will happen “outside the existing station box.” [Also, the station will be open continuously throughout construction.]

  7. What about including infrastructure for the upcoming LRT? Too soon for that, Lawson says; we’re only at 10% design now. That line might go up Pape or Broadview. [What about Donlands? I asked. He shrugged. He implied that one project team simply was not talking to the other one.]

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.07.12 17:52. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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