Once Centers of Civic Pride, Transit Hubs Become Destinations Again

When the railroad was the primary means of interstate travel, America's cities relied on their train stations to provide grand first impressions to travelers. As transit ridership soars, a bevy of new stations are being designed as civic centerpieces

Will Doig looks at a selection of new stations being built in New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere, and sees signs that cities are again lavishing money on their transportation hubs, expanding on the role of the grand station houses of the past to provide "transit environments" that reflect "today's urban ideals". Doig focuses his attention on Minneapolis's new hub, called the Interchange, which architect Peter Cavaluzzi, principal at EE&K, describes as functioning, "in the new wave of transit hubs where we're trying to blend transit and culture."

So, what is a "transit environment"? "First off, it's not just trains," writes Doig. "It's heavy rail, light rail, buses, streetcars, subways, bicycles, pedestrians, all integrated into a single multi-modal hub. Second, it's an activated space, with shops and restaurants (not just kiosks and food courts, but stores and restaurants you'd want to hang out in), live performances, art, parks - a true public gathering space. Finally, it's integrated into the city, less a soaring monument to transportation than a celebration of urban life - and in the more ambitious efforts, a small city in itself."

However exciting the premise of these "magnificent public gathering spots" based around the clamor for increased transit options represents, Doig questions whether the expanded role envisioned for such facilities could come at the expense of their central function, "providing the best possible ways to get from one place to another."

Full Story: Commuting to Disneyland

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95