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Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain Station Upgrades Phases 1 + 2

office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers inc.

Vancouver, Canada

May 2019


Steve McFarlane, Nick Foster & Janusz Menezla


Aplin Martin Consultants Ltd, Mark Casidy, Applied Engineering Solutions, Philip O’Neil, AME Consulting Group, Zlatko Puljic, Read Jones Christoffersen , CC Yao, Graham Construction


Bill Orr, TransLink


Andrew Latreille


To improve passenger experience and accessibility, a new East Station House is introduced, with an elevator and a set of escalators. The new vertical circulation experience is enhanced spatially by a tall volume that extends between the elevated guideways to platform level. Natural daylight and pastoral views to the east along the BC parkway are framed by a signature stained glass art installation by a local artist. The clean white subway tiles that line the walls reflect the changing quality of natural light and heighten the ephemeral infusions of colour produced by the art installation.

The platform is extended to the east, and the roof is re-clad along its length with careful integration of electrical systems, lighting, acoustics and wayfinding. The original 1250mm module was rigorously respected to organize the station’s new parts, with the original mesh screening replaced by glazing along the full platform length, celebrating the community and the flow of passengers.

At ground level, the building is a pavilion, fully glazed on all sides to provide views through the building, and intentionally modest in height to address the pedestrian scale. A generous mass-timber canopy provides protection from the elements as it reaches out to the new south-facing plaza, welcoming daily commuters and passers-by with ample space, new trees, playful seating and an enhanced outdoor lighting system, creating a safer urban environment. Bicycle stations and a new coffee shop also improve user amenities.


Vancouver’s Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain Station was first constructed as part of an innovative new transit line established for Expo ’86, with the theme of transportation and communication. At the time, “flying rapid transit” represented the future, expressed in the station’s iconic row of steel hoop trusses—now designated heritage elements. Over time, however, the station lost its clear architectural identity, the original elements were adapted to address shifting demands. With one of the highest passenger volumes on the SkyTrain system, the station was also in need of essential upgrades to extend its capacity and useful life for another 25 years. The design for the Joyce-Collingwood Station upgrades has produced a new, dynamic identity, reducing elements and integrating engineering and building systems to respond to both the needs of today and of the future.

The original station massing and material selection resulted in a building that appeared solid and dominated over the streetscape, with the low platform ceiling contributing to a feeling of being enclosed and separated from the surrounding neighbourhood, and the legibility of the iconic primary structure obscured by a metal mesh screen.


The “kit of parts” philosophy that guided the design of the original Expo Line Stations informed the approach to prefabricated construction solutions in the new station’s design. A crane was not permitted in the station during construction due to ongoing train operations and clearance limitations. To navigate this challenge, pre-fabricated laminated veneer lumber (LVL) panels made of local Douglas Fir that were slid in at street level, raised, and attached to the underside of the steel structure. This structurally efficient and architecturally elegant solution imbues the public space with warmth and reflects the region’s natural character.

The architectural concept developed for the Joyce-Collingwood Upgrades provides a counterpoint to the expressive structure of the original station by shifting the focus to people movement. This was achieved with increased transparency and integrating structural solutions seamlessly into architectural components. While respecting the historical significance of the original station, the updated design presents a new, simple linear form, defined by a bright, clean palette and an abundance of natural light, with the warmth of mass-timber introduced both as structure and finish, and the hoop trusses refinished to clearly represent the station’s legacy.

Upgrades to the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain Station enhanced the building’s integration with the surrounding urban environment and contributed to the successful reinvention of the station’s identity, creating a warm, vibrant, and unique infrastructure that builds upon its legacy of Expo ’86 and has been embraced by the local community.

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