This multi-modal transit facility will provide much needed connectivity, convenience and amenities to residents, workers and visitors to the re-emerging neighborhood west of downtown Chicago. While the station will primarily be used for daily neighborhood commuters, it will additionally support visitors to sport and cultural events to the nearby United Center, one of the City’s largest entertainment arenas.
With a site larger than necessary for a station building alone, the station’s headhouse is set back from the street to provide an open and flexible plaza which will accommodate surge crowds before and after the frequent large events at nearby venues. In addition, this plaza provides usable outdoor space for the neighborhood to further enjoy.
The simplicity and openness of the design will enhance the intuitive user experience of the facility and increase their sense of security by optimizing visibility throughout. Upon approach, the station can be clearly understood. A large glass façade faces the street and exposes the access point into the transit system as well as the stairway leading to the platform level. A glazed elevator tower provides a vertical element to the design and displays the accessible route to the platform. A large mosaic mural by a local artist, visible from the street, helps draw users to the main entry.
The elevator tower supports a crossover bridge which facilitates connections between inbound and outbound train platforms. The bridge is enclosed by a glass roof and walls which celebrate the visible Chicago skyline and help orient visitors to the neighborhood destinations. The bridge’s brightly painted structure is exposed outside of the enclosure as an expressed reference to the famous historical bridges of the city and creates an iconography which will ease wayfinding to the station.
At the northern end of the bridge, a glass structure encloses a stairway and elevator which provides access the outbound platform. At night, the illuminated elevator tower will provide a beacon leading visitors back to the station after evening venues.
Materials and details further enhance the user experience as well as ensure high-durability and low-maintenance needs. The warmth of the nail-laminated timber (NLT) roof system offsets the rich but industrial palette of the rest of the station - exposed architectural concrete, glass and stainless steel cladding.
The eastern façade is composed of large glass panels point-supported off the building’s steel superstructure. On the west façade, the glazing is supported by inverted vertical mullions which provide shading in the afternoon, and, along with a large concrete wall, improved privacy for the neighboring residences. Open joints in the glass walls allow for dispersed natural ventilation and increased transparency.
A continuous glass canopy that covers the length of the platform offering shelter while allowing the natural light to pour through. A bold pattern expressing a sense of movement is applied to the inner layer of the glass casts shadows on the platform and its structure, adding additional interest for riders while waiting for a train.
The station is expected to serve as a catalyst for future development in the area, by better linking it to the greater metro area. To further enhance these links, the design integrates additional modes of shared transit. A bus stop is incorporated into a concrete sitewall which leads to the station’s main entry and helps enclose the plaza, while a bike-sharing station is located along a northern wall.
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