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Metal ceilings support subway station

After enduring for decades, the linear metal ceiling at Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) Islington Subway Station, Toronto, which was installed in the early 1980s, was ready for a fresh look.

After enduring for decades, the linear metal ceiling at Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) Islington Subway Station, Toronto, which was installed in the early 1980s, was ready for a fresh look. John Amaral, senior designer with TTC's plant maintenance and engineering department, says, "It was showing its age, was difficult to remove and reinstall, and was difficult to keep clean."

TTC's Plant Maintenance Department was the owner, architect and installer for the project. The distributor for the project was Arrlin Acoustics, Etobicoke, Ontario. TTC's design criteria necessitated a strong and lightweight material. Chicagobased Rockfon LLC's Planostile Snap-in Metal Panel Ceiling System was selected and the tested for compliance.

Isabelle Champagne, CDT, Rockfon's district manager for Ontario and Quebec, Steve Noeth, vice president of sales at Rockfon, and Dave Jahn, project manager at Rockfon, were involved in early stages of the project.

Champagne says, "[The aluminum panel ceiling system] was an ideal choice as it neither accumulates moisture nor supports substances supporting mold or microbial growth."

Material choice focused on color and finish continuity with consideration to future replacement needs and visual appearance. Amaral says, "Aesthetically, we were aiming for clean lines and tight joints between the panels to result in a seamless looking ceiling."

Following the master specification, a series of mock-ups were created to ensure the system met TTC's criteria. The 2- by 2-foot aluminum panels were fabricated with beveled edges and finished in Satin Silver anodize.

Jahn says they brought material to TTC's maintenance crew on-site, met during the night shift to avoid bothering the riders, showed TTC how the Rockfon Planostile system installed and what it looked like in place. "We'd get their feedback and make modifications," he says.

The final ceiling system for Islington includes a custom-sized panel and C-channel to integrate the existing light fixtures. "We didn't want TTC's crew to have to cut anything other than maybe trimming the perimeter edge," Jahn says. "The installation team reported it went smoothly, as planned."

TTC's maintenance team installed the metal panels at the station's concourse level and above the pedestrian access to the fare booths, the bus platforms and the escalators to the subway platforms. TTC worked in partnership with GO Transit, Mississauga Transit and the City of Toronto to initiate the multi-phased, multiyear construction project to improve Islington Station. Islington Subway Station's old, interior ceiling was removed in 2009, leaving the plenum open and unfinished. TTC's on-site team averaged four people per shift throughout the seven-month, $200,000 ceiling installation project, completed in December 2012. The master specification developed on Islington Station serves as the basis for all ceiling replacement needs in the TTC stations currently scheduled for renovation.

Ceiling specifications were driven by TTC's engineering, construction and expansion department with priority to performance. Amaral says ease of installation and maintenance was critical, as TTC's team at Islington would take these responsibilities.

The ceiling systems needed to meet TTC's requirements for positive and negative air pressure, withstanding a wind load of up to 1.24 kPa without additional bracing or tie-downs. Amaral says meeting the air pressure criteria was crucial to its approval for use. "Due to the fact that the system is designed as a friction fit engagement, it was imperative that the ceiling system could withstand the piston affect air pressures of incoming and departing trains," he says.

Champagne says the snap-up systems strength and metal panels make it a reliable choice for challenging interior designs. "Our Rockfon Planostile Snap-in ceiling systems hide the suspension systems, provide very tight joints and offer a high degree of security," she says. "As soon as the new Rockfon Planostile system was in place, it was like a day and night transformation."

Amaral says the night crew produced exceptional workmanship. "Toronto Transit Commission takes pride in the excellent in-house skilled labor force that we employ," he says. "The sales and technical staff always made themselves available to us from early on when we were developing a new ceiling standard to the various ceiling mock-ups that were installed for testing purposes to the first installation at Islington station."

TTC is the third largest public transit system in North America and services about 4.5 million people in the greater Toronto area from approximately 70 stations. TTC moves about 1.5 million riders every weekday and 460 million people annually. Islington Subway Station is housed in a 13,000-square-foot concrete building with underground subway access. Approximately 41,000 arrive and depart from Islington Subway Station each weekday.

Rockfon LLC, www.rockfon.com