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Unveiling the redesigned Museum Station, April 8

Update, Sunday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.: Today’s Toronto Star contains an article on the redesign and the debate about the new and old designs of subway stations. It quotes from Transit Toronto contributor, Matthew Blackett.

A number of public officials will take part in a ceremony to unveil the redesigned Museum Station on the TTC’s 1 Yonge-University-Spadina subway line on Tuesday, April 8 at 11 a.m.

During the event, the dignitaries will unwrap the columns on the station platform. The designers of the updated station intend the columns to reflect “the treasures and the historical range” of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, which stand above the station.

According to a press release from the Toronto Community Foundation, the five columns represent Canada’s First Nations (“The Wuikinuxv First National House Post”), ancient Egypt (“The Osiris Pilaster”), Mexico’s Toltec culture (“The Warrior”), China’s traditional culture (“The Forbidden City Columns”) and the Parthenon in Greece (“The Doric Columns”).

The officials taking part in the opening cermony include Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman, Ontario Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll, Toronto Mayor David Miller, Toronto Transit Commission Chair Adam Giambrone and Rahul Bhardwaj, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Community Foundation.


Redesigning subway stations — like redesigning any public space — always attracts public and media attention, controversy and debate. For everyone that is enthusiastic about a new design, you’ll find someone else who’s upset about it. Both blogs and media reports contain comments from those who hate the current appearance of Toronto subway stations because the design is “too sixties” and those who love the design for exactly the same reason.

Many people celebrate the current design of the Bloor-Danforth subway, for example, because they see the entire line — rather than its individual stations — as a design statement. Others feel that Toronto needs improved spaces on transit lines to encourage more people to use the transit system and to attract tourists to cultural venues such as the ROM and the Gardiner, rather than tiled stations that look “like bathrooms”.

Transit Toronto has a number of articles on the look, style and history of subway stations and subway lines.

For example, you can read Mark Brader’s essay on the original subway design.

Read James Bow’s history of the University subway here and see Neil McCarten’s photos — some of them in color, showing the original colours of the stations — of the University subway under construction here.

From the Transit Toronto Archives, you can also read our November 30, 2005 posting on the new design and also an article from the Toronto Star from the same day here.

Off-site, you can also read Justin Bur’s essay on subway colours here, which will also, in turn, link you to Jose Onagin’s look at the original and current Yonge subway station designs here, and the original and current designs of the University subway here.

You can also read this week’s National Post article on the redesign.

You can also see the new design for Museum Station and similar proposals for retrofits of St. Patrick and Osgoode Stations by visiting the website of Diamond + Schmitt Architects Inc., designers of the subway revitalization project here. (Click on “portfolio”, then “community”, then project #3.)

The Toronto Community Foundation says the the opening of the redesigned station “reflects its commitment to the idea of beautifying and invigorating public spaces in the city. The impetus for the ‘Arts on Track’ project came from Mayor David Miller’s ‘Clean and Beautiful City’ initiative. Subsequent dialogues convened by the Foundation brought together a diverse group of partners and donors to complete this ‘Public Philanthropic Partnership’”.

Although the TTC contributed to the cost of the redesign, the bulk of the total budget of $5 million came from the Budd Sugarman Foundation.

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