Lawrence West

Far too often, we consider our subway stations mundane. We become inured from repetitive exposure to the familiar—so concerned and fixated with travelling to our destinations as quickly as possible, we forget to reflect on our physical surroundings. The banality of our imagination traps us, and enfeebles our perceptions of the world.

Like all of the stops along the Spadina line, Lawrence West challenges us to break free of that mental fog.

South exterior view of Lawrence West station
The Brutalist backside of Lawrence West: monument to concrete

Lawrence West station's north exterior view
The north side: a markedly different demeanour

Designed by Dunlop Farrow Aitken, Lawrence West finds structural definition through its relationship with the Allen expressway: it both spans and runs parallel to the heavily-travelled asphalt artery.

Within, the station’s refined interior provokes and stimulates.

Circles at the north end of the subway platform at Lawrence West
The inscrutable trio of circular vents at the platform north end

Lawrence West subway platform view
The tiled floor and unique benches of the platform
contrast with the sand-blasted concrete walls

Lawrence West bus waiting wing
Vivid orange framing casts a warm glow
into the upper hall and bus waiting area

Claude Breeze’s gigantic 300 foot ceramic mural, Spacing... Aerial Highways stretches atop the station’s north face, both inside and out. I have no idea what message this evocative work is supposed to convey. But perhaps that’s the point.

Spacing... Aerial Highways by Claude Breeze
Interior hall view of Spacing... Aerial Highways

I felt obligated to return to Lawrence West for a second visit, to ride the station’s freshly-minted elevator. Installing the device was an eight year fiasco that proved emblematic of TTC project mismanagement (to Andy Byford’s credit, upon assuming the helm of the Commission, he recognized the situation was unacceptable, and explicitly listed the elevator’s completion as a critical milestone for his new tenure).

Lawrence West automatic entrance mezzanine level with elevator shaft in view
Lawrence West got shafted—finally.

One other egregious feature necessitates mention: the ‘secret’ cutout window at the Lawrence Ave. north-side entrance. Standing at this portal, patient watchers can observe raptly and feel the vibration, as trains emerge directly beneath, metal leviathans snaking their way to freedom.

View north from Lawrence West station
The window at the north side entrance: a spectacular portal for rail fans

Lawrence West opened to the public January 28, 1978 as part of the Spadina extension to Toronto’s subway.

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:

Lawrence West TTC station photo gallery

Lawrence West station transfer
Lawrence West station transfer

More about Lawrence West

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Lawrence West

My next stop: Wellesley
Previous station: Kennedy

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