The Toronto Transit Commission is undertaking key improvements to the streetscapes of Queen Street East and Leslie Street as part of construction of its Leslie Barns streetcar storage facility, which will rely upon connecting track on those streets to bring vehicles into and out of service. Brown + Storey Architects Inc. are the project urban designers for all of the public space components of the Leslie Barns project, which also includes the Ashbridges Bay Perimeter Landscape, and have carried the revision of the street forward from conceptual work through detail design and construction documentation and review.
The project includes significant streetscape improvements, greening and other urban design enhancements to more than 1.5 km of Leslie Street and to four key intersections on Queen Street. Throughout, curbs have been realigned to create a wider pedestrian zone, vehicle turning radii have been rationalized to improve safety, and a variety of techniques have been used to introduce additional plantings to the street. On Queen Street, patterned paving, plantings and metal screens are being used to energize neglected corners, distinguishing these intersections and improving pedestrian and vehicle safety.
Working closely with the TTC, City of Toronto and the project’s engineering lead, B+SAi engaged in a comprehensive study and inventory of the existing streetscapes (including poles and street signage) in order to produce designs for the refinished streets that provide both material upgrades and a sensible rationalization of existing elements. Throughout the process, we have produced key renderings and visualizations to inform the public consultation process and to develop solutions to issues of concern as they have arisen.
The project has been an important demonstration of how infrastructure improvements like the new streetcar connecting track can and should carry with them corresponding enhancements to the city’s public realm and neighbourhood open spaces. We expect the Leslie-Queen enhancements to provide an inspiring precedent for greening and socializing municipal infrastructure projects — not only transportation and transit expansions, but also sewer, water, and hydro projects — across the city.