by Robert Cruickshank
Thanks to Andy at Curbed SF for pointing me to the new design renderings for the Transbay Terminal. Here's how he described it:
[It] shows in more detail in the immediate surroundings of the 1,500-foot-long building, one of whose principal concerns is to not be the dank, enclosed transit station most of us are used to. To that end, large skylights called "light columns" puncture the building from the 5.4-acre urban park on the roof, and penetrate deep into the building— underpasses, notes the architect, also get the airiness treatment. LEED Gold certification is a distinct possibility for the building, whose "urban room" will be similar in scale to Grand Central Station's. The building will almost entirely be naturally ventilated, and there's even talk of tapping into geothermal energy. The park, designed by landscape architect Peter Walker, may also feature a water thing running its length, with fountains spurting whenever a bus passes by underneath. There's room for sky bridges to the park from surrounding buildings, and there'll be a funicular (see: tourist attraction) to take people from ground level to the top.
Ambitious, to be sure, but it's also the right move. A 21st century transit terminal should be an open and inviting place, to suit the renewed interest in mass transit and passenger rail in particular. The folks that redesigned the Ferry Building did a good job with it, but the Transbay Terminal requires a more open design - something that is easy to use and familiarizes San Franciscans and Californians generally speaking with transit as a centerpiece of the city.
Worth keeping in mind the big picture here even as we continue to debate the implementation of the train box and HSR connectivity.