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Friday, May 1, 2015

A photo essay from yours truly about the York Concourse

Before anyone involved in this project gets their panties in a knot, please understand I supported this project. It was long overdue and it is an engineering feat because of how it was built, but it doesn't mean I have to love it and marry it. I do like that it exists.

Let's review, shall we?


At Oshawa, I walked to the far west end of the train because this is where the train will position to put me at York Steet. As I passed by the CSA for the 7:15 am train, I thanked him for his efforts this week in calming the commuter rage because of the signals issue (which I still don't have an answer for). I introduced myself and was grateful he'd heard of me, because I always find it awkward when I have to explain who I am and what I do. He's so nice. He's a keeper!


Almost there. Oh look, working signals! In the horizon!


I just followed people as they got off the train. I'm not familiar with this part of the land. I didn't know I was actually headed down the wrong staircase. 


Which is why I looked at this and went, um ...

And more um ...


So I went back up the stairs and saw the sign. Silly me!


I expected it to be busier. I was told it would be busy at this time (8:13 am) but it was eerily empty. I think Bay Street will always be the hub.


What struck me about the stairwell was the lack of lighting. It's pretty dark when you're inside looking out. Why is it enclosed by the way? How would anyone hear me if I fell late at night? Or was pushed into that corner shown below ... I'm just raising a flag here. Will cameras be installed?


So much concrete. I guess tile is too expensive? Or maybe I'm just too spoiled by the grandeur of the golden age of public spaces (think actual Union train station itself with its marble floors) ... I know. I set my expectations too high which is why ...


... my heart sank when I saw this. Is this ... is this the airport? It's so ... boring. There's nothing visually or architecturally appealing. Then again, this was probably intentional. No one would ever want to loiter here. Good call, Metrolinx.


These are a much better design than the Playskool, anti-vandalism, couldn't carry them away if we tried, solid-steel and mesh benches over at the toilet concourse we call Bay.


At first, I thought these were slides. Then I realized these were unfinished escalators. Forgive me, I had my sunglasses on. But still, they really should be slides. Also, a nice fountain should be down there somewhere, or a water rock wall. Or ... a pond ? Who remembers Sherway Gardens from the 80s? Remember how urban it felt? This place needs a little "green".


I thought these were lockers. But it's the entrance to the washrooms which were super clean. I didn't snap off a photo. Too many people and well, that's just weird.


Holy smokes, the janitor gets a lair? And a sign! So we know what it is? Because that's important? This is where the butt wipe is. Noted.


This was the only vantage point I found visually appealing, but this place needs artwork. It needs colour. I know it's still in its infancy, but I really hope the next step is an element of vibrance. Colour and emotion go hand in hand. The lack of colour made me depressed.


Is this where I buy my airline ticket?


Rome had sewers. Just saying ...


That little green man sums up how I felt leaving the York Concourse. I wanted to run like the wind and buy some paint. I would paint the concrete columns the alternating Metrolinx colours, and carry some of those dots they've come to love so much onto the walls of this space. At the very least, the space should be branded. Make it yours, Metrolinx!

I know a lot of my comments may be premature as the retail space isn't open yet, or even finished. Perhaps when that happens, the place will liven up a bit.

But it's still a better love story than Bay.

24 comments:

Squiggles said...

Tuesday morning I went to explore it, so I chose a coach closer to York than Bay. Somehow (maybe lack of signage or caffeine) I ended up in the VIA Grand Hall :(

Anyhoodles, this morning I was lined up to add money to my PRESTO and the green-clad helpers were trying to get people to head to the York concourse to load their cards.

Habit it strong and I don't think many will start using this concourse until the HAVE to use it.

Dakota said...

I saw the green running man earlier this week and was wondering what it meant.

C.J. Smith said...

It means run away this way.

What's wrong with Exit/Sortie? Too many words?

TomW said...

It's.... boring. Lacks any sort of character.

Paint would be good. I suggest getting a different elementary school class to paint each pillar. Vary the ages by platform.

Nahid said...

Also, regarding exit signs, the problem with Exit/Sortie is that it doesn't mean anything to people who don't speak English/French. If you were in China and saw 出口 on a sign, how would you know it means exit? The pictogram is a universal symbol that anyone should be able to understand.

C.J. Smith said...

Excellent point! Okay, leave the running green man.

He's grown on. He symbolizes panic and urgency which is important when dealing with Union Station.

C.J. Smith said...

You know what Tom, that is actually a fabulous idea and it could be culturally diverse as well.

I'd also like to see our Native culture being represented. Those pillars can be painted by local artists depicting scenes.

There's so much potential here.

Anonymous said...

Totem Poles!

Tyson Moore said...

I don't want to get too off-topic, but the green running man is an international standard (ISO 7010/3864-1), and will eventually replace all red exit/sortie signs.

Existing installations are grandfathered in, but as of 2014 (in Ontario), all new construction or large renovation must use the international standard sign instead of the red exit sign. This is dictated by the Ontario Building Code and the National Building Code, and is one step toward Canada adopting the International Fire Code (ICC IFC).

Nora1968 said...

Cindy - I always thought it was cool that we were both from Courtice...don't tell me you grew up in Etobicoke as well???

C.J. Smith said...

I love the green running man! He and I are bros.

C.J. Smith said...

Nora, I grew up not far from the border between the City of York and Etobicoke... my area didn't have a name, we just called it Baby Point as a kid, but now it's called upper Bloor West Village. I grew up at Jane and Annette streets. My parents still live in the area.

mark p said...

im glad im not the only one who immediately thought "looks like an airport" maybe go should hand out food vouchers next time a go train has a bad delay lol......

J. Allan said...

Perhaps it's only because I'm a courier downtown, as well as a GO user, and therefore find myself in a large variety of buildings downtown, but I see the little green man all day long...

Seemed pretty straight-forward to me. On the other hand, last I checked English/French were still our national languages. Don't our citizenship tests require the ability to read and write in one of those languages?

Nahid said...

J. Allan: Not everyone in Union Station is going to be a citizen who speaks English/French. With the Union-Pearson Express and the Pan Am Games coming in a couple of months, there will be a lot of tourists in the station who don't speak English/French.

Robert Wightman said...

CJ said;

"This was the only vantage point I found visually appealing, but this place needs artwork. It needs colour. I know it's still in its infancy, but I really hope the next step is an element of vibrance. Colour and emotion go hand in hand. The lack of colour made me depressed."

You don't like bright beige? It is such a charming institutional colour. The only thing more appealing is Operating Room Green. It is good to see there are still people out there who know the difference between it's and its. Many people reverse them now.

As for the green running man the theory behind it is that red means danger and green means safety but should you be running in a dangerous situation or proceeding carefully. The problem with green versus red is that the distance light can be seen in smokey or foggy situations varies as the fourth power of the wavelength of the light. Green has a relatively short wavelength while red is the longest for visible light. Next time you drive in a fog note how much sooner you see a red traffic signal than a green. Too many years teaching Physics, I can't control the science nerd in me sometimes.

As Tyson said all new construction needs the green running man. A project I over saw got caught on this because the fire department said is was a major renovation while the city building department said it wasn't. Since the fire department can close us down we installed green running men.

How come no green running women? Does this mean women are not to be saved? Sounds sexist to me. You should look into this C. J. Is (ISO 7010/3864-1) sexist? It could be a subtle plot to put women back in their place. I bet ISIS is behind it.

C.J. Smith said...

Robert and Tyson can geek out as much as they want. I love it. Now go away anonymous lowlifes.

Bicky said...

It certainly looks like it needs more colour. Maybe that's phase 2 of the York concourse.

Tyson Moore said...

Robert, I know you were kidding, but as a point of interest, ISO 3864 doesn't actually call it a "running man" anywhere (just the "Exit Sign Pictogram").

It's interesting and peculiar that it's become the "running man" colloquially. I think the only reason it's assumed to be a man is the lack of a skirt in the pictogram (which would be very visually confusing). Not like there's anything identifiable; it's a silhouette for crying out loud!

I guess we're used to the stereotypical symbols (men are stick figures, women are stick figures with skirts). I'm for equal opportunity signage, and propose the following equivalent colloquial names:

- Running man
- Running woman
- Running person
- Running humanoid robot
- Running bear in human costume
- Person doing a crazy dance move while standing in a doorway

Take your pick :)

George said...

I like the new running man signs. That means I can ignore the "Move Safely and Quickly to the nearest exit". If he can run, I can too. Outta my way you slowpokes!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember the 'mind the gap' stick-man on the subway in Madrid. Hilarious. You'd think this guy was toppling down a canyon. Arms up in the air, legs splayed out like a kid riding a bike through a puddle. We had lots of fun pretending to fall into the gap.

Robert Wightman said...

Tyson Moore said...

"Robert, I know you were kidding, but as a point of interest, ISO 3864 doesn't actually call it a "running man" anywhere (just the "Exit Sign Pictogram")."

You think I am kidding, well yes I actually am. ISO should have used a more androgenous pictogram, perhaps a picture of David Bowie or k. d. lang running. It maybe only a silhouette but it definitely isn't any woman over 10. I was bored and needed something to complain about that wouldn't be taken seriously. (I hope.)

Dakota said...

Thanks everyone for clearing up the green man sign. He just looks like he in such a hurry. :)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to work the ticket sales counter there. Looks like they tried to be like the an airport, unfortunately this isn't the airport, it's Union station.