There’s a green train a-comin’ to transform Washington D.C.’s historic Union Station into a “world-class” transportation hub.
The master plan calls for a sustainable modernization of the 1907 national landmark, complete with a green roof, new architectural finishes and features to increase capacity at the multimodal facility.
Akridge/SBA / Courtesy of Amtrak
|View of the historic Union Station, train shed and air rights development.|
Recently unveiled by Amtrak, the $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion master plan, developed by HOK Architects and Parsons Brinckerhoff, will take 15 to 20 years to complete.
Planners say the project could generate $14.3 billion in economic benefits to the Washington D.C. area over the next 15 years.
The Need to Progress
Designed by Daniel Burnham, the station has become one of the pre-eminent passenger rail facilities in the world, hosting 100,000 passenger trips per day on Amtrak, commuter trains, Metrorail and buses.
But it’s operating well beyond its capacity.
Further, many of the tracks and platforms do not comply with modern design standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and emergency egress standards, planners point out.
Preserving, Enhancing Historic Character
Overall, the plan seeks to improve the station’s primary functions while respecting the historic footprint of Burnham’s original design and Washington’s city plan.
“Washington Union Station is an integral part of the Northeast transportation network, facing urgent capacity issues and a need to expand to support increasing ridership growth across all services,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “This plan will transform the station into a world-class transportation hub to serve the region and the mobility needs of generations of passengers yet to come.”
|The new train shed as seen from H Street. The shed and its green roof are considered the “heart of the plan.”|
With a goal of tripling passenger capacity and doubling train service, the new design would usher in a more sustainable transportation era, planners say. In addition, the development seeks to increase the quality of passenger and visitor experiences and vitality in the surrounding area.
In the Works: Green Roof, New Finishes
A new train shed, complete with planted vegetated roof that will retain rainwater and temper the interior environment, figures prominently in the design.
In fact, the train shed is referred to as the “heart of the plan,” as it will better organize the connections and welcome passengers to the nation’s capital.
In addition, new passenger concourses along with a series of new street entrances will integrate seamlessly with the existing station.
|The Concourse A will feature waiting areas, skylights and mezzanine bridges.|
One of the existing concourses (Concourse A), serving intercity and commuter rail passengers, will be widened and fitted with a new glazed roof to allow for light and spaciousness, according to the plan.
New architectural finishes will help to enliven the revitalized concourse.
Other planned improvements include replacing and modernizing virtually all elements of the railroad infrastructure within the terminal limits and developing public plazas and open-space networks at the site.
As for building-envelope upgrades or specific coatings-related features, those plans have yet to be addressed, according to an Amtrak spokesperson.
Add-On Air-Rights Development
The master plan also includes a public-private partnership to construct three million square feet of mixed-use development for Burnham Place, a major commercial, retail and residential center. Akridge, a Washington, D.C.-based commercial real-estate firm, has worked closely with Amtrak and the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. to plan and design Burnham Place. Akridge purchased the air rights over the Union Station rail yard in 2006.
The entire plan creates the framework for progressive capital investment with a phased construction approach.
Stakeholders include U.S. Department of Transportation, Union Station Redevelopment Corp., Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia Railway Express, Maryland Transit Administration, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Akridge.