Washington D.C.'s Union Station is the second busiest train station in the nation—behind New York's Penn Station—and yet it has seen very little improvement since its completion in 1907. At the end of July, Amtrak announced very ambitious plans to overhaul the station and bring it into the next century of high-speed rail service while giving it a major green upgrade. The master plan for the train station renovation was designed by HOK in collaboration with Parsons Brinkerhoff and it could cost up to $6.5 billion. The renovation also includes the addition of over 3 million square feet of new residential, commercial and public open space on the tracks to the north.
Amtraks unveiled plans on July 25th to give D.C.’s Union Station a major overhaul and a slew of new upgrades. The original Daniel Burnham-designed station will remain as is architecturally, but will receive a number of upgrades in terms of efficiency. The heart of the project though is to the north in the train yard. As high speed rail begins here in the US, Union Station will need to be prepared to accommodate new trains and increased traffic between the north and south. Much of the $6.5B upgrades will be made out of necessity to handle some 300,000 passengers a day, triple its current volume, and double the number of trains it can accommodate.
Besides the transportation upgrades the train yard, which is currently open with nothing on top of it, will be covered with a new glass train shed roof to provide protection and daylighting for passengers. A series of undulating green roofs will accent the train shed an work to capture rainwater. Past the shed, trains will go underneath a brand new residential and commercial development along with a new public park in similar style to New York’s HighLine. Connection with the city’s existing public transport network will be improved as well as public space surrounding it. Currently D.C.’s train yard is wasted space, but the master plan could turn it into a brilliant mixed-use eco development, help preserve historic architecture and advance the station into the next age of high speed rail.
Funding for the renovations has not been secured, but the money is expected to be sourced through a variety of sources including Amtrak, the federal and local governments along with private funders. The renovation would be carried out in three phases with work beginning as early as 2013 and ending perhaps by 2028. Read more about the master plan at Amtrak, which was developed by HOK in collaboration with Parsons Brinkerhoff.
Images ©Akridge/Shalom Baranes