A motion to fund public art at the station leaves many hopeful for an Arc en Ciel return.
These days, Yorkdale subway station is lacklustre compared to its adjacent shopping centre. The mall is currently in the midst of construction on a $331-million upscale expansion. But hop on the subway to get there, and you’re met with a bleak grey open platform that will melt you in the summer and freeze you in the winter.
It wasn’t always this way: in 1978, artist Michael Hayden was commissioned to create a public art installation in Yorkdale Station. The result was Arc en Ciel, strips of neon lights fixed to the glass vaulted ceiling of the station that sent ripples of colour and light—like a rainbow, hence the name—through the platform each time a new train entered. Then the installation encountered technical difficulties, and the City chose to tear it down.
But Yorkdale Station could soon be getting its groove back.
TTC chair Josh Colle has tabled a motion, seconded by Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s West) to amend the TTC’s capital budget and fund a new public art installation at Yorkdale Station. There’s no suggestion that the Arc en Ciel will make its return, but fans of the installation are hopeful.
In 2010, former TTC chair Howard Moscoe teased the city with a possible return of the installation, when he reported at a board meeting that a Yorkdale developer would be willing to pay for its restoration. But nothing came of it.
According to the Globe and Mail, the original installation failed when water leaked near the ceiling and burnt out transformers that lit the rows of neon lights. At the time, transformers would have cost $28 to replace. When Hayden suggested the lights be fixed, he was told to wait for the following year’s budget for the money to replace the transformers. A year passed, and the installation remained turned off. By the 1990s, Hayden claims, the City decided to cut costs and remove the installation altogether. At the time, it cost $100,000 to build.
Using LEDs, it’s likely that a new installation inspired by the original would cost less money—and who wouldn’t love a rainbow light show to spruce up the bleak station Yorkdale has become?