Transformation at the End of the Line: Placemaking at Gunns Loop

Gunns Loop may not appear on the rollsigns of westbound 512 St. Clair streetcars in Toronto, but with its recent reconstruction, it now has a proper sense of place. It is the western terminus for the city’s northernmost streetcar route; however, since its completion in 1981, it has lacked a design worthy of a terminus in Toronto’s iconic streetcar network. It was a banal quarter circle of concrete and asphalt, with some grass and a chain-link fence around the edges. Some generic shelters and a few shabby utility poles with mundane street lights broke up its featureless sterility.

Fortunately, the recent streetcar right-of-way project on St. Clair Avenue West involved a complete overhaul of the public realm. This time around, design would not be neglected. Intuitively, Gunns Loop was one of the last parts of the transit project completed between 2005-2011. It was transformed into a public space with polished landscape and urban design. The new design has not only enhanced this transit facility, but also the community itself with a beautiful new public space. Stepping off the streetcar onto the sheltered and attractively paved platform is now a more interesting and formal experience which evokes the “higher-order” transit that light rail can be. The loop is now a public space with a sense of culture and welcoming refinement, and no longer just a banal piece of infrastructure. It now gives people a sense of place. Continue reading