Posts tagged with "Union Station":

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Aquarium—and massive shark tank—planned for St. Louis’s Union Station

By fall 2018, St. Louis will be home to a new 1-million-gallon aquarium. The aquarium is part of a larger redevelopment of St. Louis Union Station, a National Historic Landmark. The St. Louis Aquarium is being developed by Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), the St. Louis-based hospitality management company that's also behind the larger re-imaging of Union Station. The $45 million aquarium will house thousands of aquatic species and will include a 385,000-gallon shark tank. Visitors will be able walk inches above the tank on a v-shaped rope Shark Bridge. The shark tank will also be the backdrop of a 8,500-square-foot private event space for weddings and corporate events. “The St. Louis Aquarium will anchor the development that will transform St. Louis Union Station and reposition it as a family attraction destination similar to Chicago’s Navy Pier,” explained Bob O’Loughlin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lodging Hospitality Management and owner of St. Louis Union Station. Along with the aquarium, the redevelopment will also include a 200-foot-high observation Ferris wheel, a Fire & Light Show at the Lake, a new boardwalk around the site’s pond, and a new food area called the Train Park. The redevelopment also includes work on the hotel, which will add 32 new rooms to its current 539 rooms. Construction on the aquarium is planned to begin this year, with an anticipated completion in fall 2018. The 75,000-square-foot attraction will take the place of the mall area in Union Station. The current hotel and mall at Union Station were designed in 1985 and were part of a revitalization of downtown St. Louis. The popularity of the mall has declined over the last decade and the new redevelopment hopes to bring families from the entire St. Louis region back to the area.
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Pedal to the metal at Los Angeles’ Union Station

After refining their master plan over the last several months, Metro, Grimshaw, and Gruen are ready, as Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Countywide Planning Jenna Hornstock put it, to "put the pedal to the metal." They're asking the Metro Planning and Programming Committee to approve several recommendations (PDF) to begin the implementation of their Union Station Master Plan, including the development of a Program Environmental Impact Report. Yesterday they presented to the committee, and a vote is expected at the next gathering on October 15. After sitting down yesterday with Hornstock, Grimshaw partner Vincent Chang and Gruen partner Debra Gerod, AN has an even clearer idea of their plans. The ambitious scheme, which will be carried out in stages, will greatly improve connections to Alameda Street and the Pueblo de Los Angeles to the west and to Vignes Street and the Los Angeles River to the east, vastly expand  and upgrade the station's concourses, map out mixed-use development site-wide, and plan for the eventual incorporation of High Speed Rail. Renderings are beginning to look much more real, as is the whole endeavor. To the west the team is planning a large forecourt, or "outdoor room," replacing what is largely surface parking in front of the station. They're heavily programming it with open space, tables and seats, a cafe, community amenity kiosks, bike facilities, water features, and shade trees. Street improvements will calm traffic on Alameda and rows of trees will connect the station to the Plaza. The concourse behind Union Station, programmed with more retail and amenities, will be significantly widened and opened to natural light, with openings cut between platforms and elevators and escalators improving access to tracks. Its flaring shape will trace not only the path of trains but of local subways. Above the tracks the team is investigating a planted, criss-crossing bridge structure providing another level of access across the site. A new east portal behind the tracks–largely open to the sky–will open to another plaza, creating a new public face east of the station where Patsaouras Transit Plaza currently sits. If the plan is approved the facility will be moved to the center of the station, branching into a north/south open space and a lower west terrace (inspired by Union Station's lovely courtyards) forming, pending approvals, where the Mozaic Apartments and a facility for Amtrak currently sit. The team is mapping out about 3.25 million square feet of commercial, retail, residential, and hotel development over the more than 40 acres that Metro owns around the station. With the support of the California High Speed Rail Commission the team will also move to accommodate High Speed Rail, perhaps on a site east of Vignes Street that encompasses the city's aging Piper Center. That move is still pending issues like funding and track alignments. "This is a completely new way of engaging the city," commented Chang, who sees the station as a centerpiece and growth catalyst not only for its neighborhood but for all of Downtown Los Angeles. His team hopes to proceed first with the development of the forecourt and other perimeter spaces, which he calls a "quick win," then move on to more challenging task of rebuilding the concourse, the transit plaza, the east portal, and so on .
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With Caveats, High Speed Rail, And Its Stations, Chug Ahead In California

Despite ongoing delays, lawsuits, and government holdups, it appears that California's High Speed Rail (HSR) plans (and their associated stations) are ready to move ahead. Last week the United States Department of Transportation issued a "Record of Decision" for HSR's initial 114-mile section from Fresno to Bakersfield. The decision, "represents a major step forward, both for the State of California and for High Performance rail in the U.S," Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement. On the state level California governor Jerry Brown earlier this month managed to secure $250 million for the project from the state's yearly cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions fund. That number could total $3 billion to $5 billion in coming years. The total amount of track built in the network will measure over 800 miles. But the estimated $68 billion project is still short of the federal funding it needs, and there are a number of significant obstacles left. According to the Contra Costa Times, a Sacramento judge has blocked, pending appeal, the $8.6 billion in state bond funds owed to the project. The state also owes the federal government $160 million in order to receive $3.5 billion in matching funds, and the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to block funds to the project as part of the federal transportation bill. Although that vote is anticipated to be overturned by the Democratic Senate. Still, California's HSR stations continue to move ahead, regardless of whether the tracks ever get built. Grimshaw and Gruen's plans to transform Union Station in Los Angeles just passed another benchmark, Pelli Clarke Pelli's San Francisco's Transbay Center is moving ahead as well, although perhaps without its signature rooftop park. And the furthest along is Anaheim's ETFE-topped ARTIC station, designed by HOK and Buro Happold. The multimodal facility combining bus, rail, high speed rail, shuttles, and more—is scheduled to be finished late this year. All of these stations will serve multiple transit functions, even if HSR never happens. But it sure would be a waste if that came to pass.
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Blobs, Turf, and High-Slung Hammocks Among Chicago’s “Active Union Station” Winners

The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago announced the winners of its “Active Union Station” competition, which is meant to enliven the railroad hub's underused public spaces. Although it’s the nation’s third busiest train station and gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago's Union Station remains basically a waypoint on a longer trip. Two winners and a runner-up hope to change that. “Blah Blah Blob!” will take over the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, and “trainYARD” will sprout in the Great Hall. “I Searched High and Low for You” is the runner-up. The visual inspiration for Latent Design & Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s “Blah Blah Blob!” is, in part, the rip-stop nylon canvas elementary school teachers used to inflate around giddy students during recess. “Remember how much fun this was?” asks the entry’s visual plan. “Yeah, you do.” Astroturf completes the experience inside the brightly colored blob, which will move around the plaza throughout the exhibit’s duration. “trainYARD” brings the park lawn indoors, “putting it right in the middle of their daily routine.” The design by SPACETIME includes recycled-grass areas for tetherball, croquet and bocce, as well as picnic tables and lawn chairs. Runner-up “I Searched High and Low for You,” by Ann Lui and Craig Reschke, envisions a slew of red hammocks along Union Station’s Canal Street arcade, slung over a row of what appear to be floating orbs high overhead. Their appearance would be striking, acting as a “beacon for the city,” and a gallery of hammocks — not to mention their almost sculptural accent to the arcade’s parade of columns — would bring some activity to a lonely corridor. View the full list of entries here. The winners will receive $5,000 to implement their ideas between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2. Fifth Third Bank sponsored the competition, which served as the Metropolitan Planning Council’s fifth annual Placemaking Contest.
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Contest Aims To Enliven Chicago’s Union Station

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.
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Eavesdrop> Grimshaw and Gruen Take Union Station

This is big: Our sources divulge that UK firm Grimshaw and LA-based Gruen Associates have won the commission to master plan the six million square feet of entitlements at Union Station in Los Angeles. A formal announcement is expected this coming Monday on Metro's web site (our leak is unconfirmed), with the Metro board approving the firms after that.  Grimshaw has made a name for itself designing infrastructure and transit stations around the world, including Lower Manhattan's upcoming Fulton Street Transit Center and London's Waterloo Station. Gruen recently completed design on phase one of the Expo Line and has served as executive architect on several recent projects, including the Pacific Design Center. The site around Union Station encompasses about 38 acres and is anticipated to become a transit and commercial hub for the city. It will likely include offices, residences, retail, entertainment, parks and a potential high speed rail station.