Underground Design Reflects Above-Ground Cultural Renaissance

May 1, 2008

TORONTO - Diamond and Schmitt Architects' innovative and dramatic redesign of the Museum Subway Station on the Toronto Transit Commission's University Subway Line was recently unveiled. The acclaimed Canadian firm's new design of Museum Station re-imagines the subway platform as a hypostyle hall supported by archeologically inspired columns. With a major cultural renaissance taking place above ground through the renovation and expansion of the Royal Ontario Museum and the George R. Gardiner Museum, the redesigned and revitalized Museum Subway station reflects this new energy and spirit underground.

Photo: Elizabeth Gyde/Diamond and Schmitt Architects 

Based on artifacts from the Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Museum, five column designs are repeated throughout the station's platform representing Canada's First Nations ("The Wuikinuxv First Nation Bear House Post"), Ancient Egypt ("The Osiris Pilaster"), Mexico's Toltec Culture ("The Toltec Warrior"), China's traditional culture ("The Forbidden City Columns"), and Ancient Greece ("The Doric Columns"). Updated ceiling lighting and a new monolithic wall finish create a contemporary backdrop for the column designs. The new station design helps to orient subway riders to city above, providing visual clues about the activities above ground.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects also worked with the Toronto Transit Commission to streamline the wayfinding and other signage in the 45-year-old station. This includes the redesign of the station's Designated Waiting Areas, locations in the station where an intercom, map, fire extinguisher, safety procedures, and a bench can be found.

Benches throughout the station were also custom-designed by the architects. A dropped ceiling above the platform was removed giving a greater sense of volume to the space and new lighting fixtures accentuate the new architectural features.

The opening of the redesigned Museum Station represents the completion of the first stage in the Toronto Community Foundation's "Arts on Track" initiative and reflects the commitment of the Foundation to the idea of beautifying and invigorating public spaces in the city. The Toronto Community Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation committed to improving the quality of life in Toronto by connecting philanthropy to community needs and opportunities. The impetus for "Arts on Track" came from the Mayor's "Beautiful City" initiative and subsequent conversations convened by the foundation on how to create great public spaces.

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