Will Alsop’s practice, aLL Design, in collaboration with *The Spadina Group Associates (TSGA), a joint venture of IBI Group, LEA Consulting Ltd. and WSP **, designed and recently completed two of six stations on the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC’s) new TYSSE (Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension).

Project Name: Pioneer Village
Architect Name: aLL Design

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© aLL Design

The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Project provides a critical extension for the existing TTC subway system across the municipal boundary between the City of Toronto and The Regional Municipality of York.

Pioneer Village station straddles the border of York Region, beneath the intersection of Steeles Avenue West and Northwest Gate, anchoring a corner of York University Campus. The station acts as an integrated regional transport hub serving up to 20,000 subway passenger trips daily, providing 1,881 commuter parking spaces and two separate regional bus terminals. The location is otherwise underdeveloped and it is intended that the station entrances and bus terminals will create a public focal point that will serve the future development of the surrounding area, beginning with Steeles Avenue West.

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The subway station’s entrances were designed as a pair of sculptural structures; their height exceeding that necessary, to increase their visibility – ‘We learn a lot from cathedrals,’ said Will Alsop.  Rendered in weathering steel, these two structures mirror each other in shape and scale. The bus station canopy – also Corten steel – has a huge cantilevered roof which is planted with meadow grasses, to create a ‘green-roof’ and provide shelter for waiting passengers.

Pioneer Village station comprises beautifully executed concrete work – the interior walls are faceted, highly-polished concrete, and the supporting columns along the length of the platforms are angled and ovoid in section.

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Public Art Installation: “LightSpell”, designed by realities: united, Berlin, is a “super sculpture”; a hybrid between art and the lighting of the subway station. The interactive installation consists of a suspended array of 40 light elements that run along with the ceiling throughout the station. Each element produces the alphabet; special characters and numerals, enabling passengers to send messages that appear on the display.

Pioneer Village station incorporates the following environmental initiatives:

  • Cool roofs and green roofs;
  • Increased daylight levels to reduce electric lighting power usage;
  • LED lighting in pylon signs, and energy-efficient lighting in illuminated wayfinding signage to reduce power consumption;
  • Water-efficient plumbing fixtures;
  • Energy-efficient HVAC system;
  • Reduced stormwater runoff into the municipal drainage system by utilizing green roof landscaping and soft landscaping areas adjacent to other building runoff areas;
  • Short term bicycle parking spaces; and
  • Landscaping with native and drought-tolerant species.

aLL Design

aLL Design is a collective of young and established international architects and designers, each with broad artistic interests and specialisms. Under the direction of the late Prof. William Alsop, OBE RA, the studio has designed some of the world’s most iconic architecture. These landmarks have often increased tourism, encouraged learning, and lured people into their community. They include RIBA Worldwide Award winners: the French Government’s Headquarters in Marseille – ‘Le Grand Bleu’; Ontario College of Art and Design and the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Peckham Library, London.

We practice making life better. Our philosophy concerns listening to people and each other, looking keenly at a brief, and responding to the site and all those who are involved or connected in some way to the development. All endeavors to make people happy and engaged – forging community links in the process of design and absorbing ideas that enable them to evolve unique places for the shared experience. The practice pioneers a collaborative approach and strives to be an innovator and enricher of life and learning.


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