Victoria Park

When it comes to subway station renovations, it turns out that sometimes, you can put lipstick onto a pig.

Victoria Park western street entrance
The revamped street entrance to Victoria Park station

Prior to a comprehensive, multi-year, $36 million rehabilitation that culminated in 2011, Victoria Park suffered from an inefficient transfer layout. To go between the subway and the elevated slotted bus platform, you had to traverse down a flight of stairs, dash over to the correct bay, and then clamber back up again. The design was cutting-edge for a 1968 station where buses were in a separate fare zone, but it no longer served us well in the present.

And it was ugly. Wonderfully ugly! I would have rejoiced in documenting it prior to the enhancements. Externally a concrete bunker (rather like its expansion-sister Warden), Victoria Park imposed itself onto the senses, aloof to the local topography.
The pedestrian walkway linking Victoria Park station to Crescent Town
The Skywalk Bridge pedestrian walkway to neighboring Crescent Town 

I invariably regard ‘revitalizations’ with distaste. Progress, and the upheaval it entails, is the notional enemy of my arbitrary nostalgia for the way things were when I first encountered them. Yes, I’m one of those idiots who can’t handle change. But I can occasionally express grudging acceptance, when the improvements are clear and incontrovertible.

Pedestrian walkway along the north side of Victoria Park station
The gussied-up north-side Teesdale Place walkway 

Sloped landscaping behind the bus platform at Victoria Park
The sloped landscaping behind the perimeter bus platform references nearby Dentonia Park

Victoria Park bus platform view looking south
The soaring canopy of the bus plaza

The modernization effort strove to recast Victoria Park as a connective intermodal hub for the community. Brown+Storey Architects (known for their design of Yonge-Dundas Square) guided the site’s urban design elements; Stevens Group Architects along with the TTC’s internal team were the project architects; while Scott Torrance Landscape Architect implemented the extensive and innovative 5,000 square-foot green roof.

The makeover has been largely successful, encompassing:
  • several new and redone entrances
  • public art by environmentalist Aniko Meszaros
  • the first transit station green roof in Toronto 
  • a replacement six bay bus terminal at street-level
  • elevators for barrier-free access
  • secure storage for bicycles

'Roots' by Aniko Meszaros at Victoria Park station
Roots and its hopeful allusive statement, along the eastbound platform stairwell wall

Meszaros’ wide-ranging, somewhat rambling installation is called Roots. It takes various forms throughout the station, some better executed than others.

My personal preference is for the filigree, laser-cut panels in the north bus plaza canopy. I haven’t yet figured out the right time of year to properly view the ‘global’ shadows they cast. If you just glance up at the circles they look random, but a closer inspection reveals the reversed images of the world’s continents.

Artistic 'continental' designs in the bus canopy at Victoria Park station
Australia and Asia, flipped.

Victoria Park subway platform
Natural light floods in through the windows punched into the platform walls

Victoria Park traces its nomenclature back to the British monarch who reigned over the Empire during the latter’s era of maximum puissance. Her namesake station may never be as beloved, but thanks to the award-winning refresh, it is now far less forbidding than when its doors opened on May 11, 1968.

Photo Gallery

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

Photo Gallery for Victoria Park subway station in Toronto

Victoria Park station transfer
Victoria Park station transfer

More about Victoria Park

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Victoria Park

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