We’re still about 4 years away from the completion of the Transbay Transit Center, a 1.5 million-square-foot facility that will serve as the terminus for this high speed rail line in California. Stretched along Mission Street for 5 blocks, the center will have a structural steel skeleton and an undulating transparent wall along the sides. It was originally planned to clad the exterior with fritted glass, but it is now expected to be clad in perforated aluminum. Regardless of the material upgrade, the overall effect of transparency should be the same. Fred Clarke of the firm Pelli Clarke Pelli told the San Francisco Chronicle, “This is a dramatic change in material, but the philosophical change is not enormous. I think it is equally handsome.” The project is expected to save $10 million.
Topping off the transit center will still be a beautiful 5.4 acre urban park filled with trees, flowers, paths, event space and cafes, which is designed by PWP Landscape Architecture. The park will feature both active and passive areas, meandering paths, and mounded hills to create a varied landscape. Skylights throughout the park will fill the terminal below with natural daylight. PWP is also working with environmental artist Ned Kahn to create a 1,200-foot-long Bus Jet Fountain, which is a sensor-triggered feature that sets off jets when busses move through the terminal. Wetlands, greywater and rainwater collection are all part of the sustainable strategies for park.
Images ©Transbay Joint Powers Authority
The role of glass was to protect the building and its visitors from wind and rain while still allowing light to enter and leave. Covering this building with chicken wire (or performated aluminum) provides little protection while blocking more light. The birds will like it better for nesting and roosting, but for us this is a lose/lose situation. If you must, stainless steel is a better choice of material. It is stronger, more flexible and less deformable with larger perforations than the same thickness of aluminum is. It is easier to clean and generally better looking. I agree with the previous comment that any neo-fortress type design decisions mean that the terrorists have truly won.
The “terrorists” have won.