Renderings from street furniture submissions

The City of Toronto released renderings from the bidders of the massive street furniture contract. Here are a few images extracted from the PDF, courtesy of Joe Clark, .

I’ve selected images from each bid. Once we’ve had time to digest the array of submissions we’ll add our commentary. Feel free to let loose in the comments section.

Astral Media
CBS Outdoor
Clear Channel












  1. The CBS bus shelter has space for more ads (along the top). The CBS poster kiosk (left-hand illustration) looks like an iPhone. How fast do you think the CBS newspaper box will get an ad on the street side? The Clear Channel info pillar illustrations conveniently only show the one ad-less side.

    On the plus side, the bike racks all look awesome…

  2. I’m most impressed with Astral, but I cannot imagine how those bike racks are supposed to be used?

  3. The roof over the info pillar is a little weird. Is it supposed to protect the sign or the people from rain/snow/sun? Is it supposed to look good? I don’t think it does either.

    I’m concerned about most of the bike stands. Bike stands shouldn’t be designed to look good but to be SAFE and I’m not sure these are. That last picture: that expensive bike attached to a post with visible screws? I dunno… The arch bike stands near the top look like they can be easily kicked and forced over. The big bar bike rack seems the most functional.

    While I’m being practical, I don’t think a planter attached to a garbage bin is the best idea either.

    I like the bus shelters, as long as the ads are not facing traffic (got to be able to see the bus come!) but I think they figured that out.

  4. Can we please have trash receptacles without an idiotic, crud-covered metal flap covering a tiny mailslot-like hole this time? Please?

    The CBS designs are kinda depressing in that they’re more concerned with ad placement than actual design.

  5. It seems like several of the waste garbage bins have the icky flaps that one needs to push open before depositing garbage. Whatever the outcome, the city should make this its number one design criterion: no icky flaps to push open, vermin concerns notwithstanding! The Astral bins nicely have a foot-operated flap though but I wonder what happens when snow accumulates underneath? The CBS proposal posted on the website also mentions that they don’t need to be touched to operate them.

    Ashtrays in all proposals are a nice touch and will help to cut down on buts on the street.

    The Clear Channel Garbage bin with the secondary ad structure is especially bad. You know those plants will croak and it will become filled with crap after about a month. Their proposal makes no mention of avoiding the ick factor, whereby the other two proposals do. On the plus side, I like the patterned glass roofs that are possible for their transit shelters and the lighting effects at night.

    The Astral proposal seems the most sensitive to Toronto’s public space, e.g. mentioning its “growing LRT network” and integrating the “newly proposed Toronto street signs” into the transit shelters, which are also greenly powered by photovoltaics and low energy L.E.D.s

  6. wow, they sure tried really hard to copy the existing bus shelters. what’s the point of changing from what Toronto has right now if they’re going to look almost the same?

  7. I really hope Clear Channel does not win the bid.

    And those bike racks all do look kind of cool, but they also look like I bend them in half. Maybe they’re stronger than they look.

    I find it kind of funny that the Clear Channel proposal shows a bike locked up in a way that takes up the most space and inhibits other people from locking to the same rack (chainring in).

    I think I will probably continue locking to parking sign poles for a long time to come.

  8. too many ad spaces!! How does the whole deal work, financially?

  9. the clear channel submission seems to be the only conceptual one. the other two are pretty much what we have now: boring, nondescript, glorified advertising space. at least clear channel considered other things: like originality, uniqueness, playfullness, beautiful lines. plus i love all the planters. that’s a really nice touch.

  10. The Astra transit shelter shown has the roof sloping the wrong way (as do half of the current Viacom/CBS shelters). When it rains, where is the water going to run off? In front of the entrance. Not very friendly. Some of their other renderings have the roofs going the other way. The roofs should always slope so the runoff falls away from the entrance.

    The CBS transit shelter is a little better, as long as they keep the roof orientation the same on all shelters — sloping away from the entrance. And dig those “Next Bus” displays! Yes, please!

    Two of the Clear Channel shelter designs (not above, but on Joe Clark’s Flickr site) also seem to have the roof sloping the wrong way. Is it just me or are those po-mo roofs and canopies on the Clear Channel designs going to look passé really fast?

    Interesting how the Clear Channel renderings de-emphasize the ads on the outside of the info pillar. And should we assume that the street side of their garbage bins will also carry ads?

    All the bench proposals seem to be rigged like the CBS one — so that street people can’t sleep on them.

    I assume any or all of these bike racks will be theft/stress tested. I can’t see how I’d be able to lock both my back wheel and my frame with a single U-lock to the Clear Channel rack the way I can with the current City of Toronto racks. The post looks too thick to get a U-lock around.

    Some of the Astral bike rack designs look odd, but may make more functional sense.

    CBS didn’t provide any sense of scale for their bike rack (on the Flickr site), so it’s hard to know how well it would work.

    Frankly, I like our current bike racks (although the 2×4 problem needs to be solved) and there are so many of them installed, we should just continue with that design. They’re not sexy, but for the most part they work and they’re ours.

    After a quick look (I haven’t read the proposals, just looked at the pretty pictures — thanks, Joe), CBS loses on style but seems to win on function. Clear Channel is too stylish — with designs that will quickly date. Astral tries to play the safe middle with early 90s design and colour.

  11. The Clear Channel bike lockers are interesting. They look like they use space more efficiently than the current lockers.

    I found most of the other images to be a bit nauseating in their use of ad space. At least there’s some small public space boards in some of them.

    Why is it that all the structures have this metal & glass approach to them? Are they cheap to manufacture? Easy to clean? Personally I miss the comfort more natural elements (such as wood) give you. All these designs look cold. And had they not been annotated I would have guessed they were all done by the same company. I think Spacing should let its readers come up with their own concepts, it would be an interesting comparison!

  12. See, BS doesn’t include a bikerack. What’s up with that? Also, keep in mind the attack by Clearchannel (is that a Scientology reference?)’s thugs and creeps (lawyers that is) on our friends at

    I prefer the current jumble. I prefer the thought that a small company might start selling its own newspaper at any time without worrying if it fits into the “power structure” of a Mega box.

    What’s wrong with cacophany? Don’t we live in a city? I am not looking forward to the day when the only legitimate poster is the one on the “master-poster column”

  13. I’m kinda nostalgic for the classic bike racks, they’re so quintiscential Toronto. On that note though I overall like the Clear Channel plans the best, with the “tree” style bus shelters and the washrooms with grass on the roofs.

    The Astral Media package looks horrible in my opinion. Looks boxy and bland.

  14. I like the CBS poster kiosk. Better there than all over the bus shelter.

  15. Thanks for pointing this out!

    I went to the City’s website and looked at all 3 of the proponents drawings and details.

    While none blew me away.

    I found some meritorious points in both the Astral and Clear Channel designs (though it pains me to say that).

    I have to say that the one design set I was very much un-impressed with was the CBS Outdoor set.

    I really did not like the Transit Shelter designe at all.

    Can’t entirely explain that…subjective aesthetics and all; but they came across as tacky looking to me.

    Both the Astral and Clear channel designs had good ‘green’ features and some nice design elements.

    Shame the City didn’t manage an attractive enough package for get a full set of bidders.

    I think, like the new street signs….we could have done better….

    But…overall, I could live with either of the Astral or Clear-channel packages. They would be an overall improvement on most of what we have.

  16. the clear channel bike racks are not useful judging by the elevation provided. Standard locking cables will be too short to feed through both wheels and the ring. Have they been 2×4 tested?

  17. Notes on bike racks:

    A bike rack with an overhead rail (such as Astral proposes) should have at least one metre of clearance to ensure that bikes with front decks can use it.

    Ideally, every bike rack should have the ability to resist as much force as a thief with an ordinarily available (and portable) set of tools can apply to it. In that connection, I like the Astral Media proposal, because the bike bar, at least, has few leverage points. As well, I would like to see some thought given to siting and protecting bicycle racks, given the problem of bicycle theft in this city.

  18. ^If CCTV cameras are inevitable, I would support some kind of additional automated civic sniper mechanism to dispatch bike thieves quickly and efficiently.

  19. Can we please stop with the silver shininess? It’s really not easy on the eyes if it’s everywhere on the street, and it looks sterile and cold. Is paint or colour so wrong?

  20. Uhm- so, thats it? really?

    I’m absolutely dissapointed in all of them.

    What is it with the postmodern pointy look that these companies have all deemed appropriate for Toronto? Oh wait- that damned tower-lol….

    I love how they all have streetnames, and are suspiciously lacking in brand stickers- wait for it-waait..

    And clear channel is the only group that came up bike locker boxes!

  21. Wow, absolute crap!

    The Astral units are decent, but they hardly seem innovative. Where are the digital displays that inform the waiting transit user of the approximate time until the next bus?

    The Astral waste/recycling bin’s form leaves something to be desired, could a simpler form not have been considered? But the bike racks aren’t bad, but there’re a lot more options available.

    CBS and Clear channel should not even be considered, their designs do not appear very functional and, in my humble opinion, are downright hideous.

  22. I hate all of these proposed bikeracks. There is nothing wrong with the current “post-and-rings” (lollipops) – especially now that they’re starting to double them up to thwart 2×4 weilding bike theives. The current design is classic and practical, and there is no need to change it.

  23. Obviously, these people have never waited for a bus in their lives. That clear roof (on all the bus shelter designs) provides no shelter in the hot sun, and the gap at the bottom ensures the inside of the “shelter” has a couple of inches of snow covering it after every storm. What’s the point?

  24. After reviewing all the proposals, I think that the only one that would be of any value to the City of Toronto would be the proposal submitted by Clear Channel. They offered a series of products that are truly unique. The other two shelter designs offer little in setting Toronto apart.


  25. Astral’s design firm must have run out of ideas for the public toilets, as they are just a bus shelter with a toilet in the middle.

    CBS.. their shelters look strange..cant figure out why.. but something isnt right.

    Clear Channel… they have taken the time to truly develop a unique product for the City. I love the look of the toilet, and the shelters… very modern.

  26. Well, those are all quite underwhelming, but that’s to be expected. All this street furniture is designed firstly to provide ad space, secondly to be easy to clean and thirdly to match each other, with functionality and effective use of space coming in a distant fourth.

    None of the bike rack designs look like an improvement over the post-and-rings. These really do not need replacement. They’re a great, simple, capable design that look alright in any situation.

    The info and posting pillars are all broken, doing strange things just for the sake of standing out. A circular pillar with a stapleable surface all-round provides the most space for postings and is really easy to build. Put a big “i” or Toronto logo on top to make it visible. It’s simple, but works much better than the fancy designs being proposed.

    The multi-newspaper boxes are a fundamentally flawed concept, so unsurprisingly none of the bidders manage to make them work. Having to reach down below knee-height to access one of the lower level boxes is unworkable, and obscuring pedestrians’ vision with excessive height is equally senseless. The corrals might work, though they don’t seem particularly necessary.

    All that said, the Astral bus shelters aren’t too bad. they slope in the right direction and do a fairly good job of enclosing users. Though the glass roof does hold the threat of summer-time greenhouse heat, it is at least opaque. Unfortunately all 3 bidders have decided on all-glass construction.

    The CBS litter 3 bin also looks functional and well-proportioned. No garbage-juice flap, and a large capacity. CBS also have the most comfortable looking bench, with full-length Homeless-HarrierTM armrests.

    With the sole exception of the rather cool-looking bathroom which includes outside seating, the Clear Channel designs are dreadful. The garbage cans have all the problems of our current ones but also reduce capacity! They even have the nerve to double the length of the can to include an extra ad. Those things are bad enough in the ‘burbs, we certainly don’t need them in the city proper.

  27. If Fred Parsons and Concerned Resident are not Clear Channel epmloyees I’ll eat my shirt.

  28. Let’s not forget these bidders have illegal signs all over Toronto – but let’s give them licence to slather the streetscape with more!

  29. Toronto is in serious need to the streets being cleaned up. Toronto doesnt have the budget to do this…therefore the ads pay for the capital investment.

    It is time to get rid of those Eucan Metrobins!

  30. Get ready to eat your shirt Todd Irvine… I am a CA at Ernst & Young….

  31. Bus shelters need to SHELTER humans, bike racks need to SECURE bicycles, and waste receptacles must….oh, you should get the idea. But unfortunately, there are always design-cultists out there who’ll saddle everyone with beautiful but useless junk.

    Look at the evaluation criteria. Design gets twice as much weight as the boring stuff like accessibility, safety, security, maintenance, and overall usefulness.

    I hope this won’t turn into Megabin Boondoggle revision 2.0 but considering the players involved I’m not optimistic.

  32. It was a tad dry going down, but saves me making dinner.

  33. As far as I’m concerned, none of these companies should get the contract until they clean up their illegal signs. That’s all I have to say about it.

  34. I fixed the titles and descriptions of the photos. If they’re still incorrect, let me know.

  35. On bike-related furniture:

    The current classic post and ring has a central problem: a thief can use the structure against itself, by placing a lever through the ring and against the post. A longer lever (2 by 4) can defeat a stronger ring. If you want to stay with the basic post and ring design, you don’t necessarily want a stronger steel ring; you want soft and flexible steel that will deform without breaking. Reinforcing the ring with a thick steel cable would accomplish this.

  36. I like Astral’s litter receptacles’ foot-op feature too, but it would need to be on a raised platform to save it from snow. I don’t quite understand their bike park though, mainly because it’s not drawn to scale. Their shelter designs look a little too close to our current shelters for my liking though.

    CBS’ shelters look a little reminiscent of YRT shelters to me, but still get the job done nonetheless. Their litter bin concept probably has the worst lid out of all the designs. The rubbber (?) lid might sustain more residue from the trash, and may even end up being more disgusting than the metal lids we have now.

    Clear Channel’s public washroom considers seating options which I liked, but won’t the concave roofing be hard to maintain? It’s basically like having a big bowl on top of a public toilet waiting for rain, snow, falling leaves and birds (as well as any waste they may leave behind) to land on. Their designs are the most conceptual and it would be nice to see some creativity around the city. Just take away the planters first.

  37. Astral’s design look bulky, and for no good reason. Bus shelter = puke. Their bike rack looks bike snatcher friendly. The only thing I like is the foot pedal
    in their trash can design.

    I like Clear Channel’s bottle opener style bike posts. But like Astral’s designs, it’s bulky and uninspiring.

    My votes goes to CBS. It seems the most compatible with Toronto’s sensibilities. It’s sleek and utilitarian in a very Toronto way.

  38. I don’t particularly like any of the designs, they all seem to be more about creating more spaces to plaster ads than anything else. The shelters don’t shelter, the trash cans don’t make it very desireable to deposit your trash in them (that icky flap), and the benches are not something I particularly want to sit on for more than a few moments.

    Why can’t then come up with something that would enhance its surroundings instead of suck the life out of it? Maybe hire local design companies to make shelters and trashcans and such that would be unique to the regions of the city, or at least paint them different colours. Can’t they at least put in some tinted glass or an opaque roof in the shelters to provide at least a bit of protection from the sun?

  39. I’m quite happy with these. This is an industry, and you can’t really expect Toronto’s version to be particularly unique or you risk screwing up. Better not to reinvent the wheel but to take the best practices from other cities and employ them here, which I think is what these proposals represent.

    For comparison, take a look at New York’s new Cemusa furniture. It’s fine but not as nice as the Toronto proposals:

    I like CBS. It seems to be the cleanest and most elegant. (Astral is over-designed, Clear Channel has too many ads tacked on.) Regardless, it’s a good step forward for tourist-unfriendly, littered and transit-bashing Toronto.

  40. An important thing for me would be that all of the oldest, pretty shabby small shelters be replaced before any of the newer downtown ones.

    It seems to me that shelters in lower traffic areas of the city don’t seem to be being replaced – instead I suspect priority is given to those with better advertising potential. Well that might be fine for the advertisers but if we’re going to have a city-wide contract then that should be what we get, not replacing recent, perfectly serviceable shelters in favour of the latest and greatest while these more isolated shelters remain, growing ever more decrepit.

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