TTC has sent along its own Central Committee–like version of the questions posed at the bidders’ meeting two weeks ago. Apart from the misspellings, the frequent misnaming of stations (“Finch Station”?), and the fact that most questions don’t end in question marks and many answers don’t end in periods, TTC’s bigger problem is the baldfaced disingenuousness of its answers. They read like the work of an intern at an industrial polluter’s PR agency.

TTC staff seem completely unaware of what was happening at their own meeting. It was a tough crowd that used questions to tell the TTC it had produced a vague and insulting RFP. This time it’s for architectural design of six new subway stations; at yesterday’s monthly TTC meeting, the vague RFP in question was for billions of dollars in streetcars. There are times when these people don’t quite know what they’re doing. I don’t know if the streetcar contract was one of those times (it looks that way), but I know for a fact the subway-design contract is one of those times.

Here are some straightforward questions (my wording) and the TTC’s disingenuous answers (theirs).

  • Q. Do you seriously think you can hire “international” architects on this kind of budget?

    A. “Yes, the budget does allow for international architects. Markups will be those described in Supplementary Conditions SC4.”

    Unstated: It isn’t a question of “markups” but of a fundamental lack of millions of dollars to pay a starchitect – and an institution that can actually work with an ego that size.

  • Q. If I put in all that effort and you hand the contract over to a design-build contractor at the 30%-completion stage, I lose money. (Defanged, half-truthful TTC version: “[I]f it goes to design-build, there are risks associated with this.”)

    A. The consultant will be paid on a time-and-material basis for this phase of the work.

    Unstated: We indeed reserve the right to pull the rug out from under you. (Elsewhere they state that the decision to use or not use design-build contractors will come in November.)

  • What about the GO station at Sheppard West? “There is no requirement in the RFP to coordinate with GO Transit.” I know that; that’s why I asked the question. I guess the answer is yes, your beautiful Modern subway station may sit alongside GO Transit’s wooden shack.

  • We learn something about the firehall to be moved from the Finch West lot: “The new firehall will be located on a site remote from Finch [West] station and will have no visual impact on the station.”

  • Q. Doesn’t every entrance have to be accessible? (Evasive TTC rewrite: “Are all stations to be barrier-free?”)

    A. “Will be addressed at a later date.” (The RFP already states that stations will be barrier-free; TTC rewrote the question to hide what was really being asked, i.e., to avoid addressing a ramification they hadn’t managed to consider.)

  • Q. Are you people going to maintain your properties or not? You allowed the artworks at Yorkdale and Eglinton West to malfunction electrically and they had to be removed. Are you going to put us through that again? (Euphemistic TTC rewrite: “What role does the TTC maintenance department have in the reviews?”)

    A. “They will be involved in the reviews and TTC will coordinate their involvement in a timely manner.”

  • We’re explicitly told that “City of Toronto/TTC will be holding a competition for public art.” What does the slash mean? And or or?

    “Selected artists will be matched up with the station design consultant.” Does “matched up with” mean “assigned to”? (If I put in a proposal for art at York University, will I be stuck doing art at Steeles West? Will the architect be stuck with me?)

  • Water leaks? You have to look after them: “This will be addressed by the consultant as part of the design assignment.”

  • Q. Isn’t it huge that Steeles West will surely become the terminus of the Jane LRT line? Shouldn’t we be designing for that up front?

    A. “TTC will provide up-to-date information for incorporation into the station design during the concept-development stage.”

My personal favourite

Q. One of my own questions: Why is there such a huge surface parking lot at Steeles West? How do we remediate the landscape-architecture effects of so much concrete? (TTC rewrite: “Why is there a large parking lot at Steeles West?”)

A. “The layout of surface facilities at Steeles [West] is still under development. We do not see this as having any impact on the proposal submissions[,] as the Proponents should be focussed on Finch [West] Stn.”

Do you mind if I call this a crock of shit? Because it is.

The contract is to design six subway stations (one or two per architectural firm). The evaluation is based on a design for Finch West. If the TTC were actually serious about this answer (in other words, if it hadn’t been provided as a particularly smug way of dodging an embarrassing question), then every question pertaining to any station other than Finch West should have been ruled out of order and ignored.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.08.28 13:53. 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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