King’s Cross: Renovating London’s Largest Transport Hub
Designed by Lewis Cubitt and unveiled in 1852, London’s King’s Cross railway station is one of Britain’s biggest and most well-known transport hubs. The station took its name from the King’s Cross area of London; it’s named after a monument of King George IV that sat at the Cross Roads. Today, King’s Cross station provides long-distance overground train services to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The King’s Cross complex also includes King’s Cross St. Pancras underground station, which acts as the biggest Underground transport hub in London, providing connections to every single line in the Capital. Although separate buildings, the King’s Cross development also includes St. Pancras International. This station provides services that include the Midland Main Line, Eurostar services to France and beyond, and high-speed train services to Kent via High Speed 1.
Network Rail wanted to turn King’s Cross into a world-class national and international network hub by 2013. To do this, a £30 million restoration plan for the station was announced in 2005. The plan included major refurbishment to the existing structure, as well as the installation of a stunning new roof – reportedly the longest single-span station structure in Europe. Further restoration to the iconic station façade and clock tower was also planned.
Not only would this expansion provide passengers with more trains and connections, but Network Rail hoped that the new surroundings and proposed new shops and bars would create a much more pleasant overall traveling experience.
With management from Kier the work was completed on time, on budget, and four months before the London 2012 Olympic Games, the new King’s Cross station is a sight to behold. The station now benefits from a stunning semi-circular vaulted concourse. At three times the size of the previous concourse, the new western concourse features bars, shops and restaurants; perfect for travelers who want a quick bite to eat before or after their journey at King’s Cross.
Designed by British architects John McAslan + Partners, the new concourse includes five of the original buildings now beautifully restored. These buildings now feature as part of the western elevation, serving as a backdrop to the new glazed entrance hall. The steel structure of the roof, engineered by Arup, has been described as being “like some kind of reverse waterfall, a white steel grid that swoops up from the ground and cascades over your head.” This new concourse also provides passengers with a step-free access to King’s Cross Underground station and St. Pancras international.
On the outside, the old entrance has been demolished completely, making way for the original Grade I listed building to be seen in all its glory for the first time in 150 years. Carried out in partnership with English Heritage, this restoration not only brings the beauty of the original 1851 façade to the forefront, but it also gives passengers and locals the ability to see the ticket hall and the main train shed roof.
The final phase of the redevelopment was the creation of a 75,000 sq ft square at the front of the station paved in York stone, bringing the grandness of Europe’s city railway stations to the heart of London. Even larger than Leicester Square – London’s other prominent public recreation area – this stunning new open space features granite benches, fantastic lighting, new trees and an area dedicated to art. The square is also home to two Underground station entrances; both of which have been upgraded to include glass canopies – perfect to escape the winter rain or summer heat.
Completed in March 2012, the new King’s Cross station is a truly modern transport hub for today’s most discerning of passengers. With more space thanks to the larger concourse area, more light thanks to the taller roof, and more trains thanks to an extra platform, King’s Cross is now set for another 160 years of success. Over 45 million passengers a year use King’s Cross, and now all of them can benefit from better lighting, larger destination boards, clearer station announcements and more shops and restaurants thanks to this stunning restoration and redevelopment project in the heart of London.
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