Illuminating Union Station’s New Food Court

February 26, 2019

Union Station’s new food court marks a significant milestone in the revitalization of Toronto’s busiest transit hub: 250,000 commuters pass through Union Station every day. 

The renovation and restoration of one of Canada’s iconic heritage buildings involves adding 165,000 square feet of new space, and curating an eclectic mix of noteworthy and unique independent retailers, restaurants, art, music, and cultural events that showcase the diversity and spirit of the city. A revitalized food court is an integral part of this transformation.

The lighting atmosphere in the food court, created by Lightemotion, consists of indirect lighting concealed in architectural elements designed by Partisans, and adjustable mood lighting, promoting wellbeing and relaxation. The 210 cloud-like structures suspended above the seating area, a key feature of the Union Food Court, were created by Design Architects Partisans in collaboration with Dialog and retail design consultants GH+A. These sculptural units, the PODS (pressurized ocular diffuser system), made from glass fibre reinforced gypsum, include a lighting design conceived by Lightemotion. The collaboration resulted in a brilliant reflection of an ambitious mandate: to make the Union Food Court a destination.

Lightemotion studied how best lighting could be diffused in the POD structures and specified the use of a DMX controlled system using LED fixtures that could change colouration and tonality of the light. A special lens was used to help diffuse the light, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere that evolves throughout the course of the day. The clever system can make subtle lighting and tone changes that give the space an ambience befitting the time of the day and can be adapted based on events taking place.

Putting the focus on light

“We are very proud to have contributed to creating an atmosphere that so effectively fosters wellbeing,” says Lightemotion President François Roupinian. “Our approach makes light the focal point, subtly punctuating the space and thereby avoiding the uniform, uninspiring effect that is so often apparent in traditional food courts.” 

The Union Food Court is the first area to open as part of the newly constructed lower retail level and offers 10 new food retailers, a seating capacity for more than 600 people, and 25,000 square feet (2,325 square metres) of space.

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