[Editor's Note: The following comment was left at archpaper.com in reference to John Gendall’s feature article on multi-modal transit hubs (“The Golden Ticket” AN 07_08.06.2914_MW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] The original design of all grand U.S. railroad stations fit the architectural design foundation “form follows function.” Unfortunately the years have not been kind to these railroad stations. Real estate developers have coveted the rail yard property for non-transportation development. In some cases these rail yards have yielded to interstates, highways, and streets. This has transformed the depot (waiting room, ticket offices, etc.) into just “a nice old building that used to serve the traveling public.” Denver is a prime example of a real estate grab. A beautifully designed rail yard gave way to developers interests. Look at the Google Maps satellite view. Transportation design was an obvious afterthought. The rail yard is stubbed, necessitating a time-consuming backup move for any train, namely Amtrak’s California Zephyr, using the original waiting room. Any future Front Range development will also require a backup. The light rail system is tucked away, far from the grand original structure. The wispy “Sidney-Opera-House-Denver” platform cover design is curious. It stands in stark contrast to the architectural elements of the original depot. A Google image search of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station does not reveal the austere feel purported in this article. What it may need is just a spit and polish rehabilitation. Those who want to remodel the structure seem to stand arrogantly. They claim the original designs were flawed and that somehow modern architects and planners can do a better job. So, will Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station become another depot from the grand era of passenger rail to fall to the modern architect? If the regal designs of the past are too ostentatious, then an entirely new depot should be constructed. The old should be left undisturbed until a new generation of architects discovers that their great grandfathers knew better how to design transportation facilities. Evan Stair Executive Director Passenger Rail Oklahoma
Posts tagged with "Train Stations":
With another set of renderings revealed for Florida's upcoming commuter rail service, it's clear that SOM hopes to give the system a highly recognizable visual brand. After the firm unveiled plans for All Aboard Florida's Miami Station, which floats the rails 50-feet above grade on trusses, SOM and Zyscovich Architects revealed its design for the smaller Ft. Lauderdale station, which clearly borrowed heavily from the first. The 27,500-square-foot hub is also defined by reinforced concrete trusses. And today, with images released for the West Palm Beach station, we know those trusses aren't going anywhere. The West Palm Beach station sits on a 2.5-acre site located in the city's downtown and is designed to link commuters to the state's Tri-Rail system and the Amtrak West Palm Beach station. As with Ft. Lauderdale, this station is comprised of glass and concrete boxes that lift above grade atop reinforced V-shaped braces. The stations' similar designs is not on accident. "A common material palette, design aesthetic, and planning strategy unite the three facilities," SOM said in a statement. "Envisioned not only as gateways to their respective cities, but also as iconic destinations in their own right, the three stations are positioned to become centers of gravity for significant urban redevelopment." Passenger service could start as early as 2016.
No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles Public Library, Central Library 630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA Through August 10 Known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations,” Los Angeles Union Station receives due recognition with the exhibition entitled No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station. Organized by the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition will span from the station’s construction in 1939, when its construction became an incidental platform for racial issues of the era, to today, when it serves 60,000 commuter passengers daily. Photographs, architectural drawings, and other archival items will all relay the story of the station’s journey from a basic transportation hub to an important centerpiece of Southern California architecture. The Los Angeles Public Library—an iconic cultural centerpiece itself—hosts the exhibition until August 10.
Denver’s Union Station, a multi-modal transit hub built by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, opened up last month. The ribbon cutting ceremony severed the notion that transportation hubs are drab, gray places that smell suspiciously of food products and cleaning chemicals. What does the Union Station Bus Concourse do differently? Everything, apparently. Its sweeping design acts as a converging point for local commuters, airport bound travelers, and out-of-city destinations. Spanning the Amtrak train tracks is an outdoor canopy built from white arch trusses. The half-moon structures swoop up to 77 feet in height before touching back down 120 feet away on the opposite side. The majestic arches offer shade and weather protection to the platforms below. The interior’s design brings in terrazzo floors, yellow glass tile work, skylights, and glass pavilions. Beyond the terminal's attention to design, the station marks a critical economic and environmental breakthrough for transit systems. "This project represents a major investment in transit-oriented development with extraordinarily far-reaching social and economic consequences," said SOM design partner Roger Duffy. "The bus concourse is the result of nearly a decade of thoughtful public consultation and bold design. Its completion helps realize this community's aspirations for a truly transformational neighborhood and landmark public project." Union Station has the capacity for 200,000 daily trips—a number that officials expect to hit by 2030. Designers hope it sets a precedent not just for transportation abilities, but acts as a beacon for other public transit structures nationwide.
Rotterdam Centraal Station's relationship to the existing urban fabric called for different treatments of its north and south facades.To call the commission for a new central railway station in Rotterdam complicated would be an understatement. The project had multiple clients, including the city council and the railway company ProRail. The program was complex, encompassing the north and south station halls, train platforms, concourse, commercial space, offices, outdoor public space, and more. Finally, there was the station’s relationship to Rotterdam itself: while city leaders envisioned the south entrance as a monumental gateway to the city, the proximity of an historic neighborhood to the north necessitated a more temperate approach. Team CS, a collaboration among Benthem Crouwel Architekten, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten, and West 8, achieved a balancing act with a multipart facade conceived over the project’s decade-long gestation. On the south, Rotterdam Centraal Station trumpets its presence with a swooping triangular stainless steel and glass entryway, while to the north a delicate glass-house exterior defers to the surrounding urban fabric. Team CS, which formed in response to the 2003 competition to design the station, began with a practical question: how should they cover the railroad tracks? Rotterdam Centraal Station serves Dutch Railways, the European High Speed Train network, and RandstadRail, the regional light rail system. Team CS wanted to enclose all of the tracks within a single structure, but they came up against two problems. First, the client team had budgeted for multiple freestanding shelters rather than a full roof. Second, this part of the project was designated a design-construct tender in which the winning contractor would have a high degree of control over the final design. To work around both issues, Team CS turned to an unusual source: agricultural buildings. “We started to come up with a project built from catalog materials, so efficient and so simple that any contractor would maybe think, ‘I’m going to build what they draw because then I can do a competition on being cheap, and then I don’t need to [reinvent] the wheel,’” explained West 8’s Geuze. For the spans, they chose prelaminated wood beams meant for barns and similar structures from GLC. They designed the five-acre roof as an oversized Venlo greenhouse. It comprises 30,000 laminated glass panels manufactured by Scheuten. Integrated solar cells, also provided by Scheuten, produce about one-third of the energy required to run Rotterdam Centraal Station’s escalators. The north facade of the station continues the glass house theme. “We [took] the roof and we pull[ed] it over to the facade and made the entire elevation out of that,” explained Geuze. “What is on the roof becomes vertically the same. In plan you see a zigzag sort of meandering facade.” By day, the glass reflects the nineteenth-century brick architecture characteristic of the Provenierswijk neighborhood in which the station is located. At night, the relatively modest entrance seems almost to fade into the sky, except for a slice of white LED lettering over the passenger portal. Rotterdam Centraal Station’s south facade, by contrast, is self consciously extroverted. The entryway, which spans 300 feet over the subway station, was given a “very sculptural identity,” said Geuze, with a triangular mouth framed by stainless steel panels. ME Construct welded the 30-foot-long panels one to another to create a non-permeable surface. Within the steel surround are horizontal glass panels (Scheuten) through which the vertical interior structural beams are visible. “This plays beautifully with the station because the roof makes a triangle. The horizontal and vertical lines are a beautiful composition within,” said Geuze. Two reminders of the 1957 central station, demolished to make way for the new iteration, make an appearance on the south facade. The first is the old station clock. The second is the historic sign, restored in LED. “They are in a beautiful font, blue neon letters,” said Geuze. “We put them very low on the facade, the letters. The font became a part of the identity.” While its preponderance of glass and stainless steel marks it as a contemporary creation, Rotterdam Centraal Station was inspired by historic precedents, like Los Angeles’ Union Station and the European railway stations of the 1800s. Geuze spoke of the interior’s warm material palette, including a rough wood ceiling by Verwol that bleeds onto the building’s south facade. “We thought we could learn a lot [from history] instead of making what is totally the [norm] today with granite from China,” he said. “We have to make a station which is part of this tradition of cathedrals, where the use and aging is relevant and interesting.”
After years of delays and dashed hopes of development, the plan to extend Penn Station into the Farley Post Office across the street might finally—possibly—be on track. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Empire State Development Corp., the state economic-development agency, is looking for a broker to sell 1.5 million square feet of unused real-estate-development rights attached to the property.” The hundreds of millions that this could generate would go towards transforming the Post Office into Moynihan Station. The new space would include a grand waiting area for Amtrak inside the building's main hall. While no concrete plan or timeline is in place, the state’s request could provide significant funds to kick-start construction. Key word: Could.
Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets. The iconic building celebrated its Centennial last year, and it's looking pretty good for 100. But, to be fair, it has had some cosmetic work done over the years. Either way, to honor that milestone, the New York Transit Museum hosted an exhibit called Grand By Design, which explored the station’s storied history. And now, a year later, that exhibit has a fun, new website. With some drawings, photos and videos, the site tells the captivating story of how the “Grand Central Depot” of the 1800’s became the Grand Central Terminal of today. Turns out, a lot happened before the Apple Store showed up. As these things go, the story is full of greed, politics, threats of destruction, and what's described as a “stormy partnership.” It's like one of today's development battles, but with more provocative facial hair. Check out the new website here. [via Gizmodo]
Paris has its answer to Silicon Valley, with plans to convert an historic train station into the world's largest home for digital entrepreneurship. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has been entrusted to rehabilitate the landmark building, situated on the southern bank of the river Seine, into a technological hub to accommodate 1,000 start-up companies by the year 2016. The new Halle Freyssinet building will be structured around modular container-based architecture, a nod to the cargo train heritage of the building, and will provide a range of business functions including meeting rooms, spacious co-working areas, a large auditorium, a fab-lab (workshop to create digital prototypes) and a 24-hour restaurant and bar. The ambitious venture is made possible through the Municipality of Paris with joint financing by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and French entrepreneur, Xavier Nile. If all goes to plan, the new digital incubator will strengthen France's presence and competitiveness in the tech enterprise market by cultivating an open space for entrepreneurs to grow and share ideas. "Paris is a magical city, a city that attracts people from around the world and where a real energy around digital is developing. But young companies that want to settle there are faced with a lack of affordable, practical and high-speed equipped places." Xavier Niel told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals. While the old Flinders Street Station has become an icon of the city, especially the copper dome, grand arch, and distinctive clocks of its main façade, it could barely handle the nearly 100,000 straphangers who step onto its platforms each day. As Mark Loughnan of Melbourne-based Hassell told Building Design, “Today it is a place people generally choose to hurry through. Our design makes it a destination, with new buildings an features that will attract people to the precinct.” Borrowing formally from the arches of the existing station and unbuilt features of the original design, the new station is composed of long, rippling white vaults, perforated to allow for natural light and ventilation on train platforms. The vaults follow the alignment of the tracks, curving slightly to intuitively lead commuters through to the central plaza and outdoor amphitheater along the river’s edge. Across the plaza, four similarly styled, straight, white vaults house the civic, cultural, and retail functions. The new design is meant to ease commuter and pedestrian flows through thought the station while readying the site for potential future growth. According to Melbourne's Herald Sun, initial estimates place the cost of the new station between $1 billion-$1.5 billion.
Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume. The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub. Two winners will receive $5,000 each to make their ideas happen at any of three Union Station hotspots between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2: the Headhouse, located west of Canal Street; the east-facing arcade on Canal Street; and the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, along the Chicago River. The nation’s third-busiest rail hub, accommodating more than 120,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers every day, Union Station already recognized the need to invite people to stop and stay in its 2011 Master Plan, as they do in D.C. and Philadelphia. Entries are due July 24 at 5:00 p.m. to activateunionstation.com.
Snøhetta has been selected to design the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which will operate as a transfer point between two metro lines and a bus network. The Norwegian architecture firm's design covers the station with a large stainless steel bowl, distinguishing it from the metropolitan framework, providing shade, and conducting light deep underground with its reflective surface through a central oculus. At night, light from retail shops and the subway platform shimmers across the metal's surface. A garden occupies the center of the main pedestrian circulation area, which includes concourses and escalators that connect the lower platforms to the street. This oasis is an effort to convey the value of natural resources in the country’s desert environment. The station stands prominently above ground with distinct entrances at the center of the bowl and at the Eid Mosque to the southwest. These aspects are connected materially and spatially by palm trees and irrigation channels running toward Mecca. Zaha Hadid is also taking part in the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station development and is designing the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) metro line. The Riyadh Public Transportation network is the world's largest urban transport program in development.
While Santiago Calatrava's soon-to-bo-soaring transportation hub at the World Trade Center is just not starting to rise from the ground, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has given us a glimpse of what's been going on underground, complete with the classic articulated ribs that make Calatrava's train stations so dynamic. And look at all that marble! Sure beats your standard New York City subway stop. This view is actually part of the east-west connector that will eventually be lined with retail shops.