Archive for the ‘Facilities and terminals’ Category

a vent shaft becomes a thing of beauty

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Building transit infrastructure comes with some mandatory requirements, and not all of them are pretty, at least not to start. Take a vent shaft, an absolute necessity for the subway to vent air and for fire safety. One of these vent shafts had to be located right in the middle of our new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.

design becomes experience

Who says vent shafts have to be ugly? At vivaNext, we know that the design of a place becomes the experience. SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal is a new breed of bus terminal – beautiful, airy and open, not at all like the stereotypical bus terminal of yesteryear.

In the middle of this, the eyesore of a square, unattractive vent shaft simply would not do. Since the vent shaft was already the centrepoint, we transformed it into the centerpiece, designing it as an artistic element of the bus station.

catching the light

The vent shaft will still be there, masked by a far more elegant exterior. Flat, stainless steel metal panels punched through with a flower pattern were fastened together to create a curved shape, almost diamond-like in appearance.

In the sunshine, it will catch the light. At night, it will be lit up from the inside. Through it all, the air from the subway will vent, serving its purpose, and proving that, yes, vent shafts can be beautiful.

taming the wind

Friday, November 24th, 2017

One of the design considerations behind the new rapidway station at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre are the heavy traffic volumes on that stretch of Highway 7. It’s a busy area, and with all the exciting new development coming to the VMC, it’s only getting busier.

As we’ve talked about here, making people feel safe and secure while they wait in the vivastation in the middle of Highway 7 is one of our top priorities. But beyond providing a physically safe waiting place, we also want to provide a comfortable experience for transit users. So the new vivastation offers lots of options, whether people want to wait inside the glass enclosures, on the platform under the high roof, or on the outside platforms.

fresh air, no wind!

For those who prefer being out in the fresh air while they await their YRT/Viva bus, there will be planters of greenery and trees to enjoy, but with all that traffic whizzing by, some might have found it a bit blustery. That’s why we’ve installed special windscreens, on the north platform where the traffic comes closest.

windscreens as art

The seven windscreens are located just to the west of the station on the road-side edge of the north platform. At first glance, they appear to be art.  We certainly designed them to be attractive in their own right, although they are also capable of mounting outdoor art displays.  Curved like the sails on a boat, they’re framed in glass, with posts made of aluminum.

a peaceful wait

Although they look so decorative, they’re actually designed to be functional, and to make waiting on the outside platform a more peaceful experience.

So when you get a chance to visit the north YRT/Viva platform at the VMC, go stand near the windscreens, and see for yourself how we’ve been able to make standing outside a nicer experience, even in a breezy place like the middle of Highway 7.


safety in waiting

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems like viva use a variety of design features to make travel faster, but the primary feature is dedicated transit lanes that allow buses to bypass regular traffic. BRT systems around the world take different approaches as to where those lanes go. Some use separate lanes beside the roadway. Here in York Region, the vivaNext system uses median rapidways that run down the centre of the road.

median benefits

A major benefit of median rapidways is how they minimize conflicts with driveways and business access. However, this design requires passengers to wait for their buses in the middle of high-volume thoroughfares – such as Highway 7 West at the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station. Utmost consideration was given to design strategies that ensure the safety of passengers while they wait for their buses.

crash-load strength

The VMC Station’s most crucial safety protection are the white concrete barrier walls which run the length of the station on both sides, separating the waiting area from traffic lanes. With the wall’s white architectural concrete finish, curves that echo those on the station roof and tapering design that flows into the planters and ramps near the crosswalk, this wall is a key aesthetic feature of the new station. But don’t be fooled by its good looks: this wall is a brute.

It’s designed to withstand crash loads, the potential forces involved in a traffic collision. Crash-proof walls have to meet strict criteria on factors such as design, materials and construction. These specifications are set by Ontario Provincial Standards, and before we received approval to begin construction, every element of the design was scrutinized to ensure it met or exceeded those requirements.

standard scrutiny

Design standards dictate things like the height and thickness of the wall, how much rebar – steel reinforcements – is incorporated, how much it will weigh, and how the wall will be fixed to the base. Standards apply to the type of materials used for the concrete wall, the aggregate used to mix the concrete, the steel used in the rebar, even the coatings on the steel. Likewise, standards dictate the construction itself, ranging from how the concrete is cured to how edges are finished.

Although safety comes first, we made sure it looks good, too.

So now you know all the thought that went into protecting you while you wait for your YRT/Viva bus, we hope you admire the design of the station, relax, and enjoy this impressive new addition to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

be ready… 30 days to subway

Friday, November 17th, 2017

The countdown is on, and we can hardly wait! The first subway in York Region will arrive in just 30 days. The TTC Line 1 subway extension is a game-changer for transit in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], York Region, and beyond.

Changes of this magnitude are fueled by the power of collaboration and funding partnerships. Today, vivaNext participated in a media event to kick off the countdown in earnest, along with the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the TTC.

Read the news release

mega-connections at VMC

The TTC Line 1 extension isn’t the only connection coming your way. Everything’s changing, and that makes for better, faster transit service.

  • The Highway 7 West rapidway between Edgeley Boulevard and Jane Street, including Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station in the centre of Highway 7, will open for service.
  • SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will begin hosting YRT/Viva soon after.

Imagine, hopping on Line 1 at VMC Station and arriving downtown in just 45 minutes. Or from the subway, connecting directly to our Highway 7 West rapidway, or walking two minutes to the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal, where YRT/Viva routes branch out across York Region. Soon you won’t have to imagine!

Today’s event was a warm-up for the big celebration on December 17, and you’re invited to share the celebration. Check for links to detailed information.

award-winning design

In other news, our rapidway in Vaughan is already getting noticed, for the quality of the design and also for the collaboration behind the scenes that makes it all come together.

Earlier this week, we were honoured to receive an Award of Merit from the Vaughan Urban Design Awards for the first phase of our Highway 7 West rapidway. The awards celebrate excellence in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and environmental stewardship.

The rapidway, running from Jane Street to Bowes Road, was unanimously praised by the jury as “A great example of collaboration and investment between multiple levels of government to demonstrate significance on a city-wide scale.”

The jury also called the rapidway “a catalyst to knit communities together”, noting that the project “presents public transit as a ‘cool and hip’ mode of transportation” and “makes the everyday experience of transit a beautiful one.”

We hope you agree. Riding transit can be a beautiful experience.

a modern take on the ancient dome

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Here’s a question: what do some of the most impressive structures in the world, including many of the great cathedrals of Europe and the Pantheon in Rome, have in common with our new bus rapid transit station at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre?

The answer: they’ve all followed the same basic construction technique for building a dome, which has been around for at least 2,000 years.

Domes have traditionally been reserved for a select number of important buildings which need to be impressively open and dramatic. Another reason there aren’t a lot of domes is because they’re more difficult to build compared to standard rectangular buildings. We loved the idea of creating an open and airy space for the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station, making it big enough for viva buses to drive right through. We also wanted it to be special, and symbolic of Vaughan’s new downtown.

Although building materials may have evolved over the past 2,000 years, the general approach for building domes hasn’t really changed. First, strong, deep foundations are constructed to take on the full weight of the dome. Then, a temporary support structure is built. Gradually the permanent exterior shape is created up around the support structure until the dome is closed at the top. Once the dome is complete and able to support itself, the temporary support structure is removed, piece by piece.

Ancient domes would have had wooden temporary support structures, with the outer dome made of stones added one at a time. Although the materials we used are modern, we followed the same classical construction technique. First we built a steel temporary structure. Over that we installed the station’s outer dome, a steel frame welded together one segment at a time.

With the outer steel structure fully installed and all the structural welding complete, we carefully removed the temporary support structure one piece at a time, which took a couple of weeks. After this process was complete, construction inside the station began.

All the weight of the station is supported by the subway structure underneath the station, and 25 metre-deep piles or caissons which extend underground to the same level as the subway.

With its glass and steel shell exterior and high-tech comfort and amenities inside, we know you’re going to love using our new station for its modern look and functionality. But you can be proud of the fact that, from an architectural standpoint, it’s joining a pretty special group of buildings that have been built to stand the test of time.

our plants are born survivors

Friday, November 10th, 2017

City living in York Region provides lots of advantages, from all the great places to shop, eat and live, to entertainment options, and of course the increasing number of employers choosing to locate here. But one advantage country living usually has over city life is the abundance of green, natural spaces.

Fortunately, we’ve all come to understand and appreciate the value of trees and landscaping in our urban spaces. More greenery is good for our air quality, increases property values, and can lower energy costs. It makes our urban spaces feel more welcoming and human-scaled. Plus, it just looks good.

greenery a vivaNext priority

For all those reasons, introducing more greenery and landscaping to the communities where we build our projects has always been a vivaNext priority. Plants are chosen largely for their practicality. Median and boulevard planters filled with lovely, healthy blooms and foliage look gorgeous. Median planters filled with sad, struggling plants? Not so much.

roadside plantings face tough ride

The challenge in getting more of the former and less of the latter, is finding plants that can cope with the often-inhospitable environment associated with roadside plantings. Roadside plantings have to cope with heavy doses of wind, pollution, and winter road salt spray. We’ve made an incredible effort to give our plantings every possible advantage, from the design of the planters, to the amount and type of soil, to the actual choices of trees and plants.

Some of the plants selected for our first projects didn’t thrive as well as we hoped, so we redesigned our plant selections for the rapidways. Now we’re using an even tougher group of plants with a built-in advantage: they already grow wild in this area. Many of the new plants are those you’ll find in rural York Region, growing happily along roadsides and around old farmhouses.

going wild at the VMC

Some, like sumacs, grasses and Kentucky Coffee trees [which isn’t really a coffee tree, but has pods with seeds inside that early settlers used to make a coffee-like drink], are native to parts of Ontario. Others, such as rugosa roses and daylilies, might have been planted many years ago by humans, but they’re so tough, they don’t need any help once they get established and are happy growing wild.

The new flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees, including those we’ve planted in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, will add a beautiful green note to the Viva rapidways and stations. And because we’ve chosen these natural-born survivors, they should be green and blooming for years to come.

connecting people to people

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

connecting people to people

Have you ever wondered why the central markets, main streets and train stations of old cities thrive for so many years? Whether it’s the Temple Street Market in Hong Kong, the piazzas of Italy, or Toronto’s Union Station, it’s important to have a place to gather and connect. Somewhere to meet a friend or someone new, wait for the next bus or train, or just people-watch.

We all want to be around people, at least some of the time – Aristotle once said “man is by nature a social animal.” So in York Region, we’re hard at work building attractive places to spend our “connecting” time. A warm area at the station while you wait for Viva [it won’t be long!]… a place to buy coffee at the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal in Vaughan, tree-lined sidewalks in Newmarket for walking along Davis Drive, or a trellis-covered plaza with benches to meet a friend at Cornell Terminal in Markham.

In this world of internet and mobile devices it’s easy to find ourselves isolated from the general population, so we’re using smart design to make sure everything we build connects people – not just vehicles.


a connected transit terminal

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

a connected transit terminal

This morning, we marked the beginning of construction for a new YRT bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The news release gives the basic project information, but doesn’t delve into how this terminal will connect in the GTA transit network:


Well, it is a bus terminal. YRT buses will use this terminal, taking customers in and out of York Region’s neighbourhoods and to places farther away like Brampton and northern Toronto. Customers will also be able to walk to the VMC vivastation in the middle of Highway 7, where Viva will take them away on dedicated bus rapid transit lanes. They’ll walk about two minutes above ground, or when the weather is frightful they’ll take the underground path and escalator, elevator and stairs to reach the vivastation.


Customers will take the underground path or walk along landscaped paths outside to the VMC Subway Station entrance just south of the terminal, to access the underground concourse for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The subway concourse is actually under the vivastation on Highway 7 – stay tuned for a future blog about this.

walking and cycling

The VMC area is planned as a walkable area with tree-lined sidewalks and places to live, work, shop and take transit. The terminal will meet accessibility standards, and customers will be able to walk or cycle there from any direction.


The terminal is near the intersection of Highway 400 ad Highway 407, so a passenger pick-up and drop off [aka. “kiss ‘n ride”] will be included, encouraging carpooling.


So it’s not your typical bus terminal and it’s more than a place to wait for the bus. It’s about connections, and where they’ll take you from here.


transit infrastructure >> on and off the roads

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

transit infrastructure – on and off the roads

York Region’s transit operator, YRT/Viva, serves a huge region with a combination of conventional transit [the white buses traveling in and out of neighbourhoods], Mobility Plus, and Viva [the blue vehicles!]. The Viva fleet has grown to about 123 vehicles, stopping at over 100 curb-side stations and 15 rapidway vivastations.

With this type of growth, you can appreciate that there’s a need for some vehicle maintenance, storage and staff offices. You can also imagine that with the Viva Network Expansion Plans, set to expand service in York Region, there will be even more of a need to connect passengers with convenient terminals and park and ride lots.

When the Viva system was being planned, we saw the need for these facilities and terminals too, so we made sure our To Do list included an Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility [OMSF] in Richmond Hill, passenger terminals in Markham and Vaughan, and a series of park and ride locations.

The OMSF opened for service in Richmond Hill in July, and we’re proud to say it was built to LEED Silver standards, with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features – a remarkable accomplishment for a 481,679 square-foot facility.

We also opened a park and ride facility at Davis Drive and Highway 404 in Newmarket along with the opening of the Davis Drive rapidway. The next park and ride location is planned in Markham near Warden and Highway 407.

A bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre that will connect customers from TTC subway and bus rapid transit to YRT and GO bus service via an underground pedestrian walkway, is in the design phase

We’re also getting ready to award a design contract for a bus terminal near Cornell in Markham to help connect customers to transit and get to and from Markham-Stouffville Hospital easily.

Having facilities and terminals around the Region means our growing transit system will be well supported, and passengers will be well connected. These projects may not be on the roads, but they’re some of the most important parts of York Region’s transit infrastructure off the roads.