Launch Slideshow

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King's Cross Station Western Concourse

King's Cross Station Western Concourse

  • The glass, steel, and aluminum diagrid roof of the new Western Concourse at Kings Cross station spans out from a central woven funnel.

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    The glass, steel, and aluminum diagrid roof of the new Western Concourse at Kings Cross station spans out from a central woven funnel.

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    Hufton + Crow

    The glass, steel, and aluminum diagrid roof of the new Western Concourse at King’s Cross station spans out from a central woven funnel.

  • Underneath the 74-meter open span, passengers move through a plaza filled with shops, access the busy Kings Cross/St. Pancras Underground station, and purchase tickets for the trains that depart from the platforms beyond.

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    Underneath the 74-meter open span, passengers move through a plaza filled with shops, access the busy Kings Cross/St. Pancras Underground station, and purchase tickets for the trains that depart from the platforms beyond.

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    Hufton + Crow

    Underneath the 74-meter open span, passengers move through a plaza filled with shops, access the busy King’s Cross/St. Pancras Underground station, and purchase tickets for the trains that depart from the platforms beyond.

  • The curving roof plane of the new Western Concourse extends in an uninterrupted 74-meter radius from this central stalk.

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    The curving roof plane of the new Western Concourse extends in an uninterrupted 74-meter radius from this central stalk.

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    Hufton + Crow

    The curving roof plane of the new Western Concourse extends in an uninterrupted 74-meter radius from this central stalk.

  • View of the Western Concourse main floor from the mezzanine level.

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    View of the Western Concourse main floor from the mezzanine level.

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    Hufton + Crow

    View of the Western Concourse main floor from the mezzanine level.

  • In the Western Concourse, a sinuous mezzanine level hosts restaurants and shops and follows the same curving geometry as the stations roof structure.

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    In the Western Concourse, a sinuous mezzanine level hosts restaurants and shops and follows the same curving geometry as the stations roof structure.

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    Hufton + Crow

    In the Western Concourse, a sinuous mezzanine level hosts restaurants and shops and follows the same curving geometry as the station’s roof structure.

  • Lined with shops and restaurants, the mezzanine also has a pedestrian footbridge at one end that connects passengers to the train platforms in the stations historic main train shed beyond.

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    Lined with shops and restaurants, the mezzanine also has a pedestrian footbridge at one end that connects passengers to the train platforms in the stations historic main train shed beyond.

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    Hufton + Crow

    Lined with shops and restaurants, the mezzanine also has a pedestrian footbridge at one end that connects passengers to the train platforms in the station’s historic main train shed beyond.

  • The underside of the mezzanine level in the new Western Concourse at King's Cross station is lined with 5 million white ceramic tiles, coated to repel dirt.

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    The underside of the mezzanine level in the new Western Concourse at King's Cross station is lined with 5 million white ceramic tiles, coated to repel dirt.

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    Hufton + Crow

    The underside of the mezzanine level in the new Western Concourse at King's Cross station is lined with 5 million white ceramic tiles, coated to repel dirt.

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    Courtesy John McAslan + Partners

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    Courtesy John McAslan + Partners

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    Courtesy John McAslan + Partners

  • To the east of the Western Concourse, and accessed by a new series of gates at the southern end, are the train platforms in the stations main train shed. John McAslan  Partners is overseeing restoration and refurbishment in this space as well: The reglazing of the barrel-vaulted roof is expected to be completed later this summer.

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    To the east of the Western Concourse, and accessed by a new series of gates at the southern end, are the train platforms in the stations main train shed. John McAslan Partners is overseeing restoration and refurbishment in this space as well: The reglazing of the barrel-vaulted roof is expected to be completed later this summer.

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    Hufton + Crow

    To the east of the Western Concourse, and accessed by a new series of gates at the southern end, are the train platforms in the station’s main train shed. John McAslan + Partners is overseeing restoration and refurbishment in this space as well: The reglazing of the barrel-vaulted roof is expected to be completed later this summer.

  • Pedestrian footbridge offering mid-track access to the passenger trains in the Main Train Shed.

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    Pedestrian footbridge offering mid-track access to the passenger trains in the Main Train Shed.

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    Hufton + Crow

    Pedestrian footbridge offering mid-track access to the passenger trains in the Main Train Shed.

  • Entrance to the rail offices in the redeveloped Eastern Range, which was completed in 2009.

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    Entrance to the rail offices in the redeveloped Eastern Range, which was completed in 2009.

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    Hufton + Crow

    Entrance to the rail offices in the redeveloped Eastern Range, which was completed in 2009.

  • New circulation was added to access different parts of the station over the ocurse of the multi-stage redevelopment.

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    New circulation was added to access different parts of the station over the ocurse of the multi-stage redevelopment.

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    Hufton + Crow

    New circulation was added to access different parts of the station over the course of the multi-stage redevelopment.

  • The buildings curving form was designed to complement (and, in fact, fit into) the curve of the adjacent Great Northern Hote, which was designed by the same architect and completed two years after the historic station.

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    The buildings curving form was designed to complement (and, in fact, fit into) the curve of the adjacent Great Northern Hote, which was designed by the same architect and completed two years after the historic station.

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    Hufton + Crow

    The building’s curving form was designed to complement (and, in fact, fit into) the curve of the adjacent Great Northern Hotel, which was designed by the same architect and completed two years after the historic station.

  • King's Cross station redevelopment master plan

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    King's Cross station redevelopment master plan

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    Courtesy John McAslan + Partners

    King's Cross station redevelopment master plan

Launch Slideshow

King's Cross Construction

King's Cross Construction

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    Connecting nodes after fabrication

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    Mock-up showing connections between steel members.

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    Steel member after fabrication

  • King's Cross station assembly

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    King's Cross station assembly

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    Assembly begins on site

  • Construction of the perimeter framework.

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    Construction of the perimeter framework.

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    Construction of the perimeter framework.

  • Cranes towering over the construction of the Western Concourse.

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    Cranes towering over the construction of the Western Concourse.

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    Cranes towering over the construction of the Western Concourse.

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    Continuing work on constructing the roof frame, with scaffolding visible underneath.

  • Construction workers securing the steel roof framework.

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    Construction workers securing the steel roof framework.

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    John Sturrock

    Construction workers securing the steel roof framework.

  • Panels beginning to infill the diagrid roof structure.

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    Panels beginning to infill the diagrid roof structure.

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    John Sturrock

    Panels beginning to infill the diagrid roof structure.

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    John Sturrock

    The completed steel framework for the spanning roof structure at King's Cross station's Western Concourse.

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    John Sturrock

    Preparing for cladding panel installation.

  • Panels being lifted into place.

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    Panels being lifted into place.

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    John Sturrock

    Panels being lifted into place.

  • Panels were lifted by crane and individually set into place to enclose the shell-shaped roof structure.

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    Panels were lifted by crane and individually set into place to enclose the shell-shaped roof structure.

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    John Sturrock

    Panels were lifted by crane and individually set into place to enclose the shell-shaped roof structure.

  • Directing panels into place onto the completed diagrid under-structure.

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    Directing panels into place onto the completed diagrid under-structure.

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    John Sturrock

    Directing panels into place onto the completed diagrid under-structure.

  • The largely completed roof shell with the Great Northern Hotel in the foreground.

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    The largely completed roof shell with the Great Northern Hotel in the foreground.

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    John Sturrock

    The largely completed roof shell with the Great Northern Hotel in the foreground.

 

It is one of John McAslan + Partners (JMP)’s biggest British projects. But the £547 million ($886 million), multiphase overhaul of London’s King’s Cross rail terminal came with problems on a matching scale. Four years ago, when construction began on the project’s centerpiece—an outsized concourse for departing passengers—time was already tight. The 160-year-old King’s Cross station is a Grade I–listed historic building, and any plans required lengthy consultation. What’s more, no work could begin until the roof slab was in place for a new ticket hall at the London Underground station below, and rail authorities allowed no trains to be canceled during construction.

Yet the deadline was fixed: The showcase concourse had to be ready in time for this summer’s Olympic Games. Passenger numbers at King’s Cross—already one of the city’s busiest stations—are expected to rise steeply as people take advantage of the new Javelin high-speed train to the games site, which will leave from the neighboring St. Pancras terminal. (St. Pancras shares the same Underground stop with King’s Cross.)

These days, London-based JMP’s chairman John McAslan, Intl. Assoc. AIA, can look back with relief: After 15 years of planning, the Western Concourse opened in March, on time and to huge acclaim. The 47 million people who pass through King’s Cross each year—a number that is projected to increase by another 10 million by 2020—can now move easily through a 7,500-square-meter (80,730-square-foot) covered concourse that more than triples the size of the station’s previous forecourt and ticket hall. In the end, “the constraints became opportunities,” McAslan says. “But it was like an examination question where the answers had to be exactly tailored to all the conditions.”

Central to JMP’s design for the Western Concourse is the shell-like diagrid roof of glass, steel, and aluminum that rises 20 meters (66 feet) above the ground at its highest point. Engineered by Arup, the vast canopy splays out from a great steel funnel located a few feet from the historic station’s western façade. (Yet another constraint was that no additional load could be placed on the station wall itself.) Intersecting branches of steel spread downward, spanning out in a 74-meter (243-foot) radius from that central point. A ring of 16 supporting columns at the outer edge takes the load. With no supporting columns in between, the Western Concourse is now the largest single-span structure in Europe.

Outside, the semicircle of the concourse deliberately mimics (and, in fact, fills) the curve of the nearby Great Northern Hotel. Completed two years after the original King’s Cross station, the hotel was also designed by the same architect, Lewis Cubitt. The geometry repeats again inside the concourse, where a mezzanine level—supported by decorative iron brackets and covered with 5 million gleaming, white ceramic tiles, coated to repel dirt—follows a similar sinuous line. To meet the design brief from the station’s owner, Network Rail, the structure provides space for a range of shops and cafés that overlook the ground-floor plaza.

Inspiration for the roof’s airy glass-and-steel design came partly from the 19th century. “I have always liked the great Victorian glasshouses as at Kew Gardens,” says McAslan, who’s also a keen admirer of Grand Central Terminal in New York. But other influences, he says, included the soaring airports designed by Eero Saarinen—Dulles International in Washington, D.C., and John F. Kennedy International in New York. As at an airport, the departure and arrival areas of King’s Cross are now separate, and McAslan hopes that the elegance of the concourse will capture something of the glamour of air travel. (“Why should air passengers always be treated so well and rail passengers so shabbily?,” he wonders.)

Happily, this reflects the client’s own thinking. Network Rail wanted a building that was more than merely functional. “This wasn’t just about providing more space,” says Ian Fry, the company’s programme director for the Western Concourse. “We wanted something that would give passengers an uplifting experience at the start of their journey.”


Project Credits

Project King’s Cross Station Western Concourse
Client Network Rail
Architect and Master Planner John McAslan + Partners, London—John McAslan, Hiro Aso, Simon Goode, Pauline Nee (key project team); Jasmine Wadia, Mark Bell, Katherine Watts, David Jackson, Aidan Potter, Adam Brown, Philip Veall, Louise Hansen, Sascha Stscherbina, Michael Mason, Dean Kirkwood
Engineer for Roof and Platform Refurbishment and Footbridge to Station Tata Steel Europe
Engineer for Western Range and New Concourse Arup
Architect for King’s Cross Square Stanton Williams
Contractors Laing O’Rourke and Costain Group joint venture (Eastern Range Building); Carillion (Platform 0); Vinci Construction UK (platform refurbishment, footbridge, service yard, Western Range, and new concourse); Kier Rail (roof refurbishment); Osborne Co. (Suburban Train Shed roof repainting)
Cost Consultant Network Rail’s in-house commercial team
Size 7,500 square meters (80,730 square feet)
Cost £547 million ($886 million, total cost for the multiphase King’s Cross station redevelopment, of which the Western Concourse was a part)

Subcontractors

Balustrade Design Rationale; Marsh Bros. Engineering Services (repairs)
Blockwork Walls Swift Brickwork Contractors
Booking Hall Fit-Out A. Edmonds & Co.
Conservation Works Cliveden Conservation
Ceilings MPG Group (corridor, plaster); Design Rationale (stainless steel cladding)
Doors Houston Cox (fire doors); Prima doors (steel doors)
Flooring Gormley Group (Western Concourse granite flooring)
Glazing LeeWarren (glass-wall cladding to public toilets); SkyLight Solutions (roof light)
Heritage Plasterworks Simplicity Mouldings
Masonry Gormley Group (Granite and York stone); Pyramid (brickwork, copings, sills, and cornices)
Mechanical/Electrical NG Bailey
Metal Hatches Bilco
Mezzanine Building Shell Swift Horsman
Painting K&M McLoughlin Decorating
Toilet and Shower Installation Houston Cox
Roofing Mundy Group (Western Range building roofing); Seele (Western Concourse roof structure and cladding)
Screeding Advanced Screeding
Shopfront Screens Houston Cox
Soft Flooring AC Flooring
Southern-end Infill Glazing WrightStyle
Handrails Design Rationale
Station Overlays LeeWarren
Storage Essex Woodcraft; Piper Joinery (storage, cabinets, tables)
Structural Works McGee Group
Walls Design Rationale (stainless steel cladding); MPG Group (plaster)
Wayfinding Houston Cox (signage)