Union Station Lounge Marks Step in Revitalization

Union Station toronto

The revitalization of Toronto’s historic Union Station took a step closer to becoming a reality as the federal government, the City of Toronto and VIA Rail celebrated the completion of the Panorama Lounge.

The upgraded lounge, which encompasses 630 square metres in the transit hub, more than doubled the capacity of the former lounge and features modern amenities such as WiFi, a beverage service area and a business centre.

More importantly, however, the $4.2 million revitalization has managed to maintain the station’s overall historic feel by retaining the heritage architecture that helped distinguish it prior to the work starting.

Toronto councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong pointed to the station as a part of Toronto’s architectural past, noting that “the high calibre of architectural design is a bold statement about this historic building as a gateway into a vibrant city.”

Heritage features include the mottled grey Missoquoi marble floor and walls, some of which was replaced by new stone from the same quarry that produced Union Station’s original marble.

Much of the marble, as well as plaster ceilings and cornice detailing, was uncovered throughout the station’s revamp. It had been covered over throughout the station’s history by paint, wallpaper and other coverings and fixtures.

While the new lounge retains much of the heritage charm that has characterized it since its opening in 1927, certain features have been modernized in a way that is unobtrusive. New wood-frame windows are thermally glazed and energy efficient while electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems were updated to meet the stricter green standards of today.

Union Station toronto interior

VIA Rail president and CEO Marc Laliberte said the new lounge “will allow for a more comfortable travel experience for the close to 170,000 Business Class and Sleeper Touring Class passengers that leave Union Station on VIA trains every year.”

The newly-refurbished lounge is part of an ongoing revitalization of Union Station, with further ameliorations such as the addition of a pedestrian retail concourse, a large-scale expansion of the GO Transit concourse and more entrances into the station planned.

All told, the project will cost some $640 million, with the City of Toronto contributing $304 million, the Ontario government providing $172 million and the federal government chipping in $168 million.

The ongoing work will help improve Canada’s busiest transit hub and one that has earned plaudits for its architecture. Union Station was designated a National Historic Site in 1975, serving as both a piece of the country’s history and a functional and integral locale.

“Union Station is an important commercial and economic hub for business travellers, tourists and daily commuters,” said Transport Minister Steven Fletcher. “VIA’s new Panorama Lounge is a valuable addition to the many projects our government is supporting to revitalize Union Station, creating jobs and economic growth.”

The Panorama Lounge marks the first stage in Union Station’s continuing heritage restoration and its completion, VIA chairman Paul G. Smith said, serves as “another step toward a renewed and modernized passenger rail service.”

By Anthony Morales
© 2012 DesignBuild Source. All rights Reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.