Our design for the Union Pearson (UP) Express provides a light-filled downtown Toronto station for this new rail link to Pearson International Airport. The project contributes to Toronto's public transit system and reduces vehicular traffic with its convenient, comfortable, and environmentally superior travel option from air to rail to subway.
Our treatment of the 90-metre-long façade features zinc, glass, and steel—robust and sustainable materials that integrate the building into its railway environment. Zinc shingles are syncopated by piers to give the 90-metre-long elevation the suggestion of movement, and an expansive picture window provides a platform view to approaching trains.
Our design supports UP Express’s business goals of providing Toronto with a seamless, serene, and uniquely Canadian urban transportation experience. Through the use of natural materials such as wood, zinc, and concrete, we reinforced our client’s creative identity, inspired by Ontario’s natural scenery. The main floor at train level features a waiting area, concessions, and a gas fireplace alongside the platform. An upper mezzanine offers a public lounge with food service and views to the platform and Skywalk connection through glass walls that allow in abundant natural light. The lounge, which includes a gas fireplace, is custom finished and furnished with pale wood to elegantly express the brand aesthetic.
The platform and mezzanine feature glazed doors, windows, and skylights to ensure abundant natural light. To prevent heat and cooling loss, and also to prevent diesel fumes from entering, the openings in the platform's glass wall align precisely with the train doors. Air curtains, concealed in the continuous bulkhead above, were detailed so that they can be moved aside to allow maintenance of the door systems. The resulting platform environment meets our energy targets even though platform edge doors remain open for minutes at a time.
The design accommodates the restriction of the existing Skywalk structure, which necessitated minimal floor-to-ceiling heights for the mezzanine. Our architectural response was to emphasize the ceiling's form using wood as a sculptural element to convey the movement of travel and respond to the client's branding requirements. Articulated beams start above the train doors, rise to the waiting lounge ceiling, descend to envelope the mezzanine lounge, and extend into the Skywalk to punctuate the entrance.
Where the floating ceiling folds to form the mezzanine’s vertical walls, we included continuous clear glass skylights that bathe the wood in warm daylight. The airiness of the double-height space is enhanced by a minimum of slender y-shaped concrete columns. Black panelled walls visually anchor the space and define boundaries, entrances, and passageways, while exposed concrete walls and columns counterbalance the wood and glass.
The bold elegance of the station supports an uplifting travel experience in the spirit of the golden era of train travel associated with the nearby, and nationally historic, Toronto Union Station.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Rob Eley, Manuela Istrate, Rick E. Mugford,Maryam Madsen, Rossen Kolev
Branding: Winkreative, Mechanical Engineering: MMM Group Limited, Electrical Engineering: MMM Group Limited, Structural Engineering: MMM Group Limited Security Systems: MMM Group Lighting Design: MMM Group Limited, A/V: Novita, Code Consultant: Rubes Code
Zeidler Partnership Architects is a Canadian architectural firm focused on design excellence in a range of complex project types. One of the longest continually running practices in North America, we are based in Toronto with 7 offices internationally. Senior partners Tarek El-Khatib and Vaidila Banelis lead a dedicated team whose ability to create inspiring buildings has been recognized by more than 160 awards, including eight Governor General’s Medals and five legacy Landmark Awards from the Ontario Association of Architects. Quality is the foundation of our practice—quality of design, process, and service. We believe that excellent architecture emerges from a project’s physical and social relationships with its surroundings, and from a client’s unique culture. The result is buildings that are a pleasure to own and to be in—buildings that are at once enduring, relevant, and inventive, buildings that contribute to their communities and are catalysts for new ways of thinking.