Launch Slideshow

HOK's Plans for the New Union Station

HOK's Plans for the New Union Station

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    © Amtrak

    The new HOK-designed train shed, as seen from H Street, will integrate new passenger concourses with significant retail and passenger amenities and a series of new street entrances with the existing station.

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    The HOK-designed train shed will be covered with a vegetated green roof, which will retain rainwater and temper the interior environment.

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    Union Station’s central concourse will include waiting areas, reconstructed tracks and platforms, a first-class lounge, and retail opportunities.

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    Phase one improvements to Concourse A will include the construction of two new tracks and one new platform on the west side of the railyard. This northwest view of Concourse A shows waiting areas, skylights, and mezzanine bridges.

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    Green roofs will help to mitigate stormwater runoff; excess water will drain within the columns supporting the roof structure.

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    This interior view of the station shows the reconstructed track and platforms at the main level. Amtrak's master plan revitalizes the historic station, triples passenger capacity, doubles the number of trains the station can handle, and improves the quality of the passenger experience.

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    Courtesy of Akridge/SBA

    This aerial view shows the air rights development, historic station and the new HOK-designed train shed from the southwest. Designed by Daniel Burnham and opened in 1907, Union Station has become one of the country’s busiest multimodal transportation hubs.

Washington, D.C., is the latest in a slew of U.S. cities looking to upgrade their rail systems. Amtrak has released renderings, developed in collaboration with HOK and Parsons Brinckerhoff, of a new development for the capital’s Union Station, which would double the facility’s capacity for interstate travel while increasing intermodal connectivity within the District as well. The existing Daniel Burnham–designed station, which opened in 1907, would remain the cardinal face of Union Station to the south, but the northern edge of the complex—currently an underwhelming parking garage and bus terminal on H Street—would undergo significant changes.  

The master plan calls for an open train shed, evoking the stations of European cities, capped by an undulating green roof, which, the architects note, emphasizes both the sustainability of the shed itself and the mode of transportation it houses. “Train transportation is one of the most sustainable forms of travel out there,” says Bill Hellmuth, AIA, HOK's D.C.-based president and the design leader for Amtrak’s master plan. The vegetated roof serves to mitigate stormwater runoff while “creating the impression of movement in the roof structure,” Hellmuth says. The new train shed will house electric-powered trains, with diesel engines relegated to their own, more heavily ventilated, quarters beneath the station.

Included in the station’s growth plan is a deep underground venue for future high-speed rail—possibly linking Southward—as well as a stop for the proposed H Street/Benning Road NE streetcar, although the latter project has met roadblocks thanks to scheduling and right-of-way issues. To the east and north of the new train shed will be a development by Shalom Baranes Architects, with commercial and residential buildings built above the rail lines.

Plans for the new Union Station are in development while the project awaits funding. Hellmuth says that the project, once financed, would probably take 10 to 15 years to complete. HOK is currently working on construction phasing plans so that the first stage of construction could begin as soon as the funding is in place, with only two platforms decommissioned at a time for minimized interruption of service, working in slivers across the site.