UP Express Union Station

Toronto, Ontario

Design Thinking: The design for the Union Pearson (UP) Express Union Station provides an airy and light-filled Toronto terminus for this new rail link between downtown and Pearson International Airport. Using a material and colour palette that includes natural wood, the design reinforces UP Express’s brand identity, inspired by Ontario’s landscapes. The sunlight-filled station provides an uplifting and sustainable public transit travel experience. By providing a new gateway to Toronto that all its citizens can take pride in, the project reinterprets and recalls the spirit of the golden era of train travel associated with the adjacent and nationally historic Toronto Union Station.

The treatment of the 90-m-long station façade features zinc, glass, and steel – robust materials that integrate the building into its railway environment. Articulated beams rise from the top of the train doors to the ceiling of the waiting lounge and then descend to envelope the lounge space at the mezzanine level, protruding into the Skywalk as an object that lingers above the UP entrance. Slender Y-shaped columns support the predominantly wood ceiling, and continuous clear class skylights bathe the wood in warm daylight. Black panelled walls visually anchor the space and define entrances and passageways, while exposed concrete walls and columns counterbalance the wood and glass. The bold elegance of the space supports an uplifting travel experience, creating drama and beauty that mark passengers’ arrival at a world-class city.

Key Features: The project, immediately west of Union Station and adjacent to the existing Skywalk, includes the train station, waiting lounge space, retail concessions, and support facilities. The upper mezzanine offers a public lounge with food service, meeting space, and staff facilities. The station platform is enclosed, featuring a synchronized screen door system for passenger comfort and safety. The facility was designed to fit into the height restrictions of the existing building, requiring floor depths for the mezzanine to be minimal. Challenged with this restriction, we used the ceiling design to define the space as a sculptural and dynamic element that conveys the movement of travel.

The project contributes to Toronto’s public transit system and reduces vehicular traffic with a convenient, comfortable, and environmentally superior option for travelers to reach their destinations – from air to rail to subway. The station also provides a fully accessible connection along Toronto’s PATH pedestrian system. The project is a terminal stop for the UP Express light rail line, with the intent of the design to enhance the passenger experience.

With Design Guidelines By: Winkreative and Hosoya Schaefer Architects
Client: Metrolinx
Size: 18,500 sq.ft. (1,700 sq.m.)