video provided by Akridge and Shalom Baranes Associates
I had hoped to post this yesterday as news of the redesign plan broke at an afternoon press conference. I’m glad I waited to see everything. There was much hue and cry over the redesign of one of DC’s most-beloved façades, and the modern glass and steel framing of the proposed redesign of Union Station was not small.
Amtrak and Akridge, along side the Mayor, the Department of Transportation’s Deputy Secretary, and a number of other local officials, announced a roadmap for a modernization of Union Station and the creation of 3 million square feet of mixed-used development including 100,000 square feet of retail options, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and a number of residential options in the air-space that currently is immediately above the departure tracks.
The plan that was announced yesterday is just that, a plan for the future of the station, and it has yet to be funded by any entity public or private. Given the cost, it will likely split between several entities, and some of it will be federal in nature, due to the parentage of Amtrak. Plans include a high-speed rail link to New York along the NE Corridor routes, and a major overhaul of the terminal space, which is welcome. If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes in the current terminal space, you know just how dingy and awful the space is, and couple that with long queues for trains, and you’ve got pretty much the worst place short of the Metro to spend any kind of waiting time.
The new master plan includes a block long park along the station’s western edge, as well as a glass-enclosed
nerve center concourse that looks to be the polar opposite of the existing terminal’s dour taciturn functionality. That would be the first phase of the plan, and would run $300M and be completed in 2017, should it ever be funded. All ideas start somewhere, and to get funding you often have to have the dream well-designed before the checkbooks come out. Union Station’s Columbus Circle façade won’t be changing, but its hideous rear entrance may be getting a makeover, sometime before 2032.