Search results for "train stations"
Second Ave but First-Rate
Cheerful art in the Second Avenue Subway will enliven the daily slog
A Long Line Coming
Governor Cuomo says Second Avenue Subway will open January 1, 2017
Airbnb opens an international HQ in Dublin (again)
It is better late than never for the South Side of Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority is extending its Red Line to the city’s far south side, adding four new stops. Currently, the line runs to 95th Street; when completed it will run to 130th.
The extension will be the first addition to the L system since 1993, and is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” initiative, aiming to modernize the city’s busiest train line. So far $425 million has been spent on its southern branch, and $280 million on the total reconstruction of the 95th Street terminal. The design architects, Chicago-based Exp., recently released new renderings of the terminal showing a sweeping red station surrounded by improved bus stops. When completed in 2018, the 95th Street terminal will also include two new major public artworks by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates.
The extra 35 blocks of train line will serve a “transit desert” that severely lacks a public transportation connection to downtown and other parts of the city. The new stops will be at 103rd Street, 111th Street, South Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, running through the neighborhoods of Roseland and West Pullman, ending in Altgeld Gardens. The new stations will also include improved bus stop facilities.
The exact path of the line is still being decided through a series of environmental studies, as well as public forums. Two options are being investigated, both of which will run parallel to an existing active freight line. In either case, the line will be a mix of elevated and at-grade tracks. The 5.3-mile extension will likely involve the city negotiating with approximately 250 property owners to make a wide enough path for the new tracks.
Though the project promises a new level of accessibility for a large swath of the city, it will be some time before it is complete. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2022, with a completion goal of 2026. New legislation has recently been approved to allow for a transit tax-increment financing district, which could possibly help fund the project. A new amendment has also been proposed to the State of Illinois Constitution ensuring all money made through transportation taxes and fees will be directed to transportation projects and improvements. The estimated cost of the project is $2.3 billion.
Raising the Bar
Goettsch Partners provides a refreshing jolt to the Chicago suburbs with Zurich Insurance Group's North American HQ
Chicago’s north suburbs are exactly as one might expect: sprawling malls, endless subdivisions, business parks, and miles of highways. In short, it’s not where one would expect to find notable architecture. Yet just across the highway from an imposing blue Ikea stands a new corporate headquarters unlike the surrounding tedium. The new Goettsch Partners–designed 784,000-square-foot Zurich Insurance Group North American headquarters is a formally ambitious exercise in large-office design.
For most, the Zurich headquarters will be experienced from a speeding car racing by on Interstate-90, which passes just west of the site. Others may have the pleasure of seeing it while stuck in gridlock traffic on that same stretch. In either case, the design team at Goettsch Partners was thinking about the project’s presentation to the car-bound masses. The form of the building is clear, even at high speeds. A massive bridging bar straddles two other large glassy bars. In many ways the project is reminiscent of what is often considered a Dutch style of diagram-driven design, rarely seen in Chicago. It was only a matter of time before one of Chicago’s larger offices would bring the technique to a major local project. The project’s bridging super-truss also brings to mind the work of offices like OMA and MVRDV, which have used the inhabitable structural system to great effect for decades. Yet the simple formal move is in some ways very Chicago—it recalls the modernist monoliths of Downtown. The project’s glossy curtain wall gives the project that blue glassy sheen so prevalent in many of the towers currently rising in the city. The company’s name is also carefully integrated into the facade in large letters, another aspect that seems to be a conversation surrounding so many Chicago projects, old and new.
Employees and visitors drive through a lush landscape designed by Chicago-based Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, complete with walking and biking trails, water features, and rolling native savannas. Included in the landscape is a memorial to four employees lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks, and at its center is a large tree that was moved from the company’s former headquarters a mile away. Other more specifically landscaped areas include a sunken hardscape close to the building, where waterfalls seclude the area from the nearby traffic. A small pavilion in a Tuileries-inspired treescape gives employees another space to get out of the building for formal and informal events. What is missing from much of the landscape is an element that usually defines similar large corporate campuses: surface parking. Though there are a handful of spots near the building’s entrance, most of the parking is consolidated into a multilevel parking garage whose form echoes the building—two bars clad in screening conceal the employee parking.
The building’s entry sequence starts in this parking structure, with the understanding that it would be the main entry for the vast majority of workers. Leading from the parking into the building, a long, wide, bright corridor provides protection from the intense winter winds and snow. Working closely with Goettsch Partners, local office Cannon Design handled the interiors. Typifying a restrained palette, the interior feels appropriate for a major corporate office-scape, with a few twists.
Rather than completely relying on the latest trade journal theories about office culture or attempting to tap into popular, but possibly fleeting, trends, the design was based on extensive research done directly with Zurich employees. Zurich, a major insurance company, was intent on providing a productive yet comfortable space for the 3,000 employees who would be working in the building. In a series of fully functional workspaces, dozens of employees rotated through different layouts and work environments, spending weeks in each. The feedback from this study was integrated into the overall concepts behind the interior. A main finding was that workers wanted to have a variety of choices when it came to their individual workspaces. Every desk is sit-stand and other spaces throughout the building are set up to become impromptu work areas. Cafes, quiet alcoves, and larger common areas are all equipped with furniture and power to allow for work to happen away from the typical workspace. Desks are grouped into smaller “neighborhoods”of around 30 desks in separate areas, rather than an endless expanse of cubicles.
The bars that make up the building are only about 100 feet wide, and many areas include double height spaces, so access to natural light is never far away. Solar gain from all of that glass is mitigated by a discrete louver system on the exterior and operable shading on the interior. For the building’s largest space, a common area for large gatherings, a 300-foot-long double-skin glass wall was engineered by Thorton Thomasetti to passively vent warm air out of the building before overheating the interior. These natural lighting systems play an important role in helping the project achieve a LEED Platinum certification, making it one of the largest buildings in the world to achieve this designation. Water and energy reduction technologies were also integrated into the design. The landscape design contributes with over 635 trees being planted across nearly 30 acres of softscape.
The orientation of the top bar of the building is made strikingly clear when standing on the downtown-facing balcony on the top floor. This balcony, well above the suburban landscape before it, makes for a perfect summation of the project as a whole. While maintaining the openness allowed by its position out of the city, it still aspires to the quality and formal ambitions of those towers on the horizon. While the project would fit in well in the outskirts of a city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where similar formally experimental buildings are becoming commonplace, in the Chicago suburbs it is honestly a bit shocking—in a good way.
Stairway to Heaven
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson transforms data center into open, flexible office for Square
Whether or not we’ve realized it, most of us have bought products through Square, a company that supplies small businesses with the now-ubiquitous square-shaped hardware and software that remotely processes credit card payments. Square’s new offices in San Francisco are meant to be as minimal, clear, and usable as its products.
Located in what was once a miserable, almost completely windowless Bank of America data center, the new 300,000-square-foot, fourth-floor office is just the opposite: an open, light-filled workspace organized by a central “boulevard,” lined with gathering spaces (including a library, gallery, and cafe), and a wide variety of working spaces, including bench-style work desks, tables, and semi-private, acoustically lined “work cabanas.”
To manage the space’s ridiculously big floor plates (100,000 square feet, four times the typical size), according to Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) principal Gregory Mottola, the firm studied urban precedents as varied as Dubrovnik and Milan, looking at everything from urban plazas to enclosed arcades. Unifying the office floors is a massive amphitheater stair that cuts through floors six, seven, and eight, and provides zones for individual work, group meetings, and large presentations. The stair is fitted with movable, lightweight powder-coated tables that snake their way down its length to create unique working and relaxing environments. Another office anchor is the eighth and ninth floor “Square Stair,” a floating switchback connecting the office floor to the main dining level.
“You’re giving up rentable floor area, but the payoff is you have these incredible group amenities,” said Mottola. “The key was this idea of creating a really collaborative, transparent company. You don’t want to have one place feel disconnected from the rest.”
Clean lines and lots of white (on steel panels, stretch-fabric ceiling panels, and drywalls) reflect the brand’s identity and lightens the mood, while salvaged wood elements, like the eucalyptus amphitheater stair, Plyboo cabanas, and end-grain woodblock flooring in the lobby, provide warmth and visual interest. Splashes of color demarcate important spaces, provide needed accents, and reflect the locale: Bright orange, for instance, recalls the Golden Gate Bridge, while blue shades evoke the nearby San Francisco Bay. The company installed new windows along the perimeters of the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, drawing in natural light where there once had been none. Another big aspect of the design within a limited budget was lighting. BCJ employed a variety of techniques, from spear-shaped “light saber” LEDs above the boulevard to indirect lighting in the workstations and sculptural accent pendants in the lounge spaces.
“We tried to make the most of those dramatic moments when we could,” said Mottola, who noted that Square was drawn to BCJ’s clean work for Apple’s stores, but not its purely monochrome palette. As the company grows at an exponential rate, the airy, collaborative, and flexible spaces will no doubt come in handy. “We want them to be able to grow and shift over time,” he added.
Penn Station proposals fail to recognize unique opportunity to improve regional transit
The redesign of Penn Station offers not just a chance to raise the building’s roof, but is also a unique opportunity to unify the region’s disparate rail networks in a way that has not been possible in over a century. Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) don’t think broadly enough about the underlying transportation problems afflicting the station and, worse yet, they solidify its already dysfunctional setup.
Most of Penn’s issues are founded in its overloaded capacity. When the station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of eight railroads providing service into New York City. While other railroads terminated at waterfront stations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the first railroad to cross the Hudson and East Rivers. Its Midtown Manhattan station provided through service for long-distance trains and terminal service for commuter rail from New Jersey and Long Island.
This is how the station still operates today, with one crucial difference: Over the past century, all the waterfront terminals except Hoboken have been closed, and the trains that served them have been largely rerouted into Penn. The resulting congestion has been exacerbated since the 1990s by a shift in preference toward Midtown’s office district and New Jersey Transit’s decision to reroute as many lines as possible into Penn.
Today, Penn Station serves 650,000 commuters each day. That is more than twice as many at its peak in the 1940s, and three times what its initial design accommodated. Furthermore, both New Jersey Transit and Metro-North would like to bring even more trains into Penn—both from existing and proposed routes. Expanded service into Penn Station will not be possible without significantly increasing its capacity—a need that Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals ignore in lieu of retail space and glass ceilings.
Understanding Penn’s capacity limitations (and how to solve them) is critical to a good design. They exist in three forms: passenger crowding, train traffic, and systematic connectivity issues to the rest of the region. On a passenger level, overcrowding is mitigated through staged boarding, or letting passengers onto the tracks only after trains arrive and unload. This produces chaotic lines and rushed transfers, especially in the area of the station that NJ Transit uses. Images of Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals suggest that the platform width and vertical access would both remain unchanged in the new Penn Station. Preserving existing stairs to the platform level, as PAU proposes, is not enough; Penn needs more vertical access. Rather than working to preserve inadequate stairwells to the platform level, we should be fighting for more stairs and escalators.
On a track level, the station is also hopelessly congested. Incoming trains often have to wait in tunnels for ten minutes or more as other trains exit the station. This is because the station is operated primarily as a terminal rather than a through station. Trains must cross each other as they enter and leave the station. Through-running avoids this problem by scheduling eastbound traffic on southern tracks and westbound traffic on northern tracks. Each train could enter the station, unload and load passengers, and continue on without ever crossing oncoming traffic.
Penn’s present configuration makes through-running impossible because only two tracks connect to Penn from New Jersey, while four tracks connect to the station from Queens. Amtrak’s current Gateway proposal would remedy this by building two additional tracks between Penn and New Jersey.
Unfortunately, none of the schemes put forward thus far recognize this unprecedented opportunity to expand the station’s capacity.
PAU’s analysis of Penn’s lack of connectivity at the neighborhood scale only tells half of the story. As a transit hub, the most important function of Penn Station is not on foot at street level, but underground at a track level. Furthermore, as one of the two regional rail hubs in New York, a redesign of Penn Station offers a uniquely valuable position to solve numerous problems at just as many scales. The schemes put forward thus far fail to look beyond the neighboring blocks of Midtown Manhattan.
Our ReThinkNYC proposal does. By understanding the regional importance of Penn Station, we are able to use infrastructural opportunities to not just solve present day problems within the station, but to improve connectivity on a regional scale.
We would reduce passenger crowding by extending all platforms to pass below neighboring Moynihan Station, currently the Farley Post Office. Some platforms already extend under Moynihan and other platforms should be extended as well. This would increase stair and escalator access to platforms for every carrier. We would widen the platforms, reducing the current 21 tracks to 12. This potentially counterintuitive move has significant benefits: Wider platforms allow passengers to board safely and quickly at track level, much like New York’s subway service, and this would decrease the amount of time each train would need to sit at its platform. By staging this work, it would be possible to extend and widen the platforms without interrupting service. We would use the new Gateway tunnels to implement through-running at Penn, allowing trains to enter and leave the station efficiently, without crossing each other’s paths. By permitting carriers to bring more trains through the station, Penn will be able to serve a growing New York City for years to come.
Not only will these track-level changes increase passenger and train capacity, but by bringing more trains through the station, we can dramatically improve the city’s connectivity as a whole. This includes NJ Transit trains that currently only go to Hoboken, LIRR lines that need more service but have no track space at Penn, and some Metro-North cars, that would be diverted from Grand Central. Furthermore, bringing Metro-North into Penn would have the added benefit of unifying the region’s three commuter rail lines into one station.
Redesigning Penn Station is about understanding its role within the New York region as a whole. The Gateway tunnels and Moynihan Station present a once-in-a-century opportunity to make Penn a transportation hub that both serves and stimulates the entire New York region. Proposals for vaulted ceilings and inspiring spaces would certainly make the station more beautiful, but are incomplete gestures if they fail to also address the more serious issues on a track and capacity level. In Penn Station, we have a rare opportunity to create a world-class station with the capacity and connectivity that New York needs. To give the city anything less would be a detriment not just to the station, but the region as a whole.
For more on ReThinkNYC, visit their website.
...proceeds from the sale or long-term lease of the land to developers, as well as other funds generated from revenue streams such as real estate taxes, would go toward upgrading the neighborhood's infrastructure, which includes extending the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area. AECOM's plan also involves creating three new subway stations, one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses, one of Brooklyn's largest public-housing complexes, and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.But a press conference on September 12 at the Rudin Center for Transportation flatly contradicted that. Chris Ward, AECOM senior vice president and leader of the team that created the proposal, claimed at the start of his presentation “This is not a plan.” (Ward is also the former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey). Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, Jill Eisenhard, executive director of the Red Hook Initiative, who were in the audience, claimed they were prepared to respond to Red Hook and Sunset community requests for something to be done about housing, jobs, etc. in the community.It is then a sort of ‘vision’ proposal that asks the community and other interested parties to weigh in on the idea. It may be that the word ‘plan’ has become a dirty word associated with top-down city proposals that end up benefiting everyone one but those who live in the affected communities. The proposal offers several scenarios that go from one that would bring 45 million square feet to the market to more modest schemes. If you want to see the non-plan and weigh in, visit AECOM's website for the project.