FROM THE AIA:
A 14-block scar in the city’s urban fabric, the rail yards, track sidings, and service areas of Denver’s historic Union Station were underutilized for decades. In 2004 voters approved a tax increase to fund a regional transit plan with Union Station as the hub of the system. The redevelopment plan for the former rail yards involved master planning, urban design, and architectural design work to knit together light rail, commuter and intercity rail, regional and local buses, downtown shuttle buses, taxis, shuttles, vans, limousines, bicycle routes and pedestrian networks into an intermodal transportation hub and urban transit district.
The masterplan provides capacity for approximately 200,000 daily trips to support more than 4 million square feet of mixed-use urban infill within a 15-minute walk of the Station. The emerging Union Station neighborhood will anchor and connect the two smart-growth neighborhoods in the heart of the city – Lower Downtown and the Central Platte Valley.
The new open-air commuter rail terminal and the light rail station are above grade, spread apart by two blocks and linked together via an underground bus terminal. A common architectural language allows users to intuitively identify entrance points for at-grade and below- grade stations. The transportation facilities are bracketed by a gateway plaza at the light-rail station in the west, and two major urban squares flanking the historic station building in the east.
This substantial transportation investment, which is being delivered as a public-private partnership, has already sparked a wave of private-sector activity. The landmark station building itself is being transformed into a boutique hotel and retail center, and nearly 3 million square feet of construction projects are either underway or in design and permitting stages in the immediate neighborhood. Construction of the transit and urban infrastructure will be complete in 2014.
For more information on the 2014 AIA Honor Awards, please visit http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2014/regional-urban-design/denver-union-station/