A new Chicago Transit Authority Morgan Street Elevated Station presents a unique opportunity, in the historic Fulton Market District, to define the geographic center and the character of an industrial loft area that is transforming into a multi-faceted neighborhood.
The same site had an elevated station from 1893 to 1948, at which time it was closed and demolished due to lack of regular use. The Market is still identified by its sights, sounds and smells, being comprised of wholesale and retail meat and produce vendors, but today, it is the rich combination of warehouses, industrial spaces, off-the-beaten-path restaurants, specialty food purveyors, loft conversions and boutique stores that are the essence of the neighborhood’s character. To reinforce this character, material selections for the project take their cues from the neighborhood—steel, glass, concrete, polycarbonate, granite and cast iron are all used in adjacent structures.
The new stationhouses have been located at grade level at the corner of Morgan and Lake Streets in an effort to maximize station visibility and pedestrian access from the active Randolph Street corridor to the south. New trees, landscaping and artist-commissioned bicycle racks are located along Lake Street in an effort to soften the industrial character of this area. Wide, clear corners at the intersection improve visibility for both pedestrians and drivers, and state-of-the-art surveillance cameras have been installed to improve pedestrian and rider security.
Accessibility, durability, and ease of maintenance were prime functional concerns for the project. Each stationhouse has an ADA-compliant elevator that provides passengers with disabilities access to the platform level. Additionally, a pedestrian access bridge, also reachable by elevator, has been provided to permit easy accessible transfer between inbound and outbound platforms.
Materials have been chosen to permit visibility through the station and reinforce the feeling of openness. The canopies above the platform level are constructed from translucent polycarbonate panels which provide weather protection for passengers, permit natural light to reach the platform, and with their low weight, allow for less canopy structure, thereby reducing overall cost. The lightweight nature of the panels also allows for easy replacement. The transfer bridge, elevator enclosures and grade level entries are comprised mostly of transparent glazing, and stair towers and guardrails are comprised of perforated stainless steel panels all in an effort to achieve this desired openness.
Sustainability was a project goal: steel and concrete are the predominantly used materials—these each consist of high amounts of recycled content. Polycarbonate panels have both a high recycled content and are regionally produced, granite flooring was extracted from regional quarries, and glazing was regionally produced. The project landscaping is drought tolerant, requires no irrigation and minimizes storm water runoff. New bicycle racks encourage the use of alternative transportation.
While emblematic of the neighborhood, the project asserts itself as part of a larger context—the CTA’s rapid transit system and its relationship to the City of Chicago. The location of this station with its sweeping views of the skyline, along with its form that provides a sense of enclosure for the elevated tracks, creates both a literal and metaphorical gateway to the Chicago Loop, and serves as a strong emblem of the modernity of Chicago’s mass transit system.
For a look at ARCHITECT's coverage of CTA Morgan Station from the April 2013 issue, please visit http://www.architectmagazine.com/transportation-projects/cta-morgan-street-station.aspx