Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ARTIC Designs Unveiled

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

The design proposal for the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which will be the southern terminus of the HSR route (at least until the San Diego line is built), was released recently. The image above is of the station, which will be wedged in between the Santa Ana River and the 57 freeway just across from Angels Stadium and the Honda Center (formerly The Pond). HOK Los Angeles and Parsons Brinkerhoff are the designers and builders for the ARTIC project. According to the release, the building will be of a sustainable design and will aim to receive a LEED Platinum certification, currently the highest rating for sustainable building.

The release also notes that the ARTIC design is modeled in part on the blimp hangars at the old MCAS Tustin. Which I have to say I find a bit unusual and not exactly inspiring. I never really understood the attraction some people had to the blimp hangars (the hangars at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale are exact copies of the Tustin hangars, for you Bay Area folks). Having grown up in Tustin, and having had several opportunities to take extensive tours of the hangars, I always thought they looked like rather ugly blights on the landscape that should have been torn down once the Marine Corps and US Navy stopped using blimps in the 1950s. (Apparently the hangars made good storage space for helicopters, which is why they were preserved.)

One of my favorite train stations is located just down the road in Santa Ana. I'm a sucker for the Mission Revival style, and that would seem to be more fitting for an Orange County HSR station. The Old Orange County Courthouse, which isn't Mission Revival but is still a great bit of 19th century architecture, would also make a good basis for ARTIC. At minimum there should be some orange trees around the station, to mark Anaheim's history and especially given how few orange trees are actually left in the county.

These criticisms should not be taken as a criticism of the ARTIC project itself. It's a long overdue and welcome project to improve the woefully inadequate existing Anaheim station (located in the parking lot of Angels Stadium), providing a centrally located place for trains, buses and pedestrians to meet.

OCTA is hosting a scoping meeting for ARTIC next Thursday, July 30, from 5 to 7 pm at OCTA HQ on 600 S. Main Street in Orange. You can submit comments online if you can't attend the meeting in-person.


ian said...

well, it does look a lot better (than the hangers) in glass.

it'd be nice if they took a little of the local (possibly mission) vernacular, but at the same time, this is contemporary architecture, so this is what we get...

Adirondacker12800 said...

Looks better than the Stegosaurus they want to build over the PATH station at the World Trade Center.

bossyman15 said...

Well I think it looks very good. I think a building should be eye catching.

Makes people want to go there.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Santiago Calatrava's design of Oriente Station in Lisboa seems to have set a kind of standard for train stations, at least over the last 11 years since Oriente opened.

But having used Oriente several times last month, I am quite unimpressed by it. The platform area design seemed unimaginative; the lower levels, including the underground walkways to the Vasco da Gama shopping center, were cold and sterile.

As far as I'm concerned LA Union Station is the benchmark for train stations, at least on the West Coast. The "huge glass and white steel" station approach, in the vein of Calatrava, just doesn't work.

swing hanger said...

Blimp hangers in themselves are not very aesthetically pleasing, but the spatial aspect of their size and shape can be. As Ian mentioned, the glass makes for a pleasing environment, and of a size appropriate for an important facility such as this. IMO, a Spanish Style building of this scale would run the risk of being either kitschy or banal.

dave said...

Well, I really like it. It's better then the design concept done by NC3D (which looks nice but the main building looks "blocky". The inside of it looks very good though.)

Maybe if we can get these stations designed throughout the system. We can start "Connecting the Dots" with HSR tracks.

Clem said...

huge glass and white steel

Looks good but doesn't age well: dust accumulates in hard to clean places. Paris CDG TGV is a nice example of something that must once have been impressive without the grime.

If only the high speed rail project were as focused on building the actual railroad as they are on building monumental iconic stations...

Robert Cruickshank said...

In fairness, Clem, it is OCTA that is spearheading the ARTIC project, not the CHSRA. If you or anyone else wants to criticize the design, go ahead, but this shouldn't be laid at some nebulous "HSR" feet.

And you're right about how it doesn't age well. Oriente Station looks worn and faded, even moreso than the usual grime of Portugal.

Unknown said...

If only the high speed rail project were as focused on building the actual railroad as they are on building monumental iconic stations...

While I think we can all agree that building the railroad is more important than building iconic stations (no duh), there is a case to be made for building stunning stations. Getting started on these plans now gives the citizens of a city a tangible example of the benefits that the high speed rail system will bring to them, and instills a civic and state pride that translates into increased support for the system as a whole. These stations, if done well, will serve as focal points for transit oriented redevelopment and the creation of large-scale sustainable communities. By creating an iconic structure, developers have a strong selling point, and these communities become much more feasible. Enticing this development as the redevelopment fees will pay a large part of the cost of these new stations (yes, Transbay is weird in its own ways).

Further, in the future when the system is complete, an iconic station will serve as a reminder of the benefits of high speed rail, and will keep the system in the forefront of the public's mind as a transportation option. These stations will represent the cities they are built in, so just as airports are gleaming examples of the economic power of the region, so too can the HSR stations reflect the flavor and strengths of a city. I see ARTIC as an example of Anaheim's desire to play a larger part in the business of the state, rather than just relegating itself to a suburb of LA. It is also their chance for increasing density.

What we haven't seen yet is an example of a high speed rail station in a city with a historic depot, such as San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I hope that these additions will complement the beautiful existing structures while articulately announcing the presence of high speed rail, the future. It will take some solid architectural thinking to make this happen, but it can be done. San Diego's Petco Park, for example, incorporated the Western Metal Supply Building into a beautiful, modern baseball stadium, harmonizing the history with the city's future (also a good example for the redevelopment it spurred in the Warehouse District). Hopefully something similar can be done at Santa Fe Depot, and hopefully the station won't be two miles to the north at the airport...

Clem said...

Robert, I didn't mean to imply that CHSRA was involved. It's just that every dollar that Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, etc. spend on "signature stations" is a dollar that could have gone to building the system in the first place. Signatures belong at the end of a document, not at the beginning :)

Clem said...

Getting started on these plans now gives the citizens of a city a tangible example of the benefits that the high speed rail system will bring to them

The primary benefit of HSR is travel time and convenience. Not a fancy station.

focal points for transit oriented redevelopment and the creation of large-scale sustainable communities

Pardon my cynicism, but to me those words are just strung-together green-washed gibberish. Take random "green" phrases, mix them up, and this is what you get.

I don't deny the importance of good station design (and I've expounded on such in the past), but it belongs in its proper place in the grander scheme of bringing HSR to fruition. Fancy stations are the side dish, not the main course. The exclamation point, not the verb. The icing, not the cake.

Andrew said...

Kyoto Station still looks fantastic after 12 years.

I have to agree with swing hanger about a Spanish revival building of that scale, there's a lot of potential for it to go horribly wrong.

Robert Cruickshank said...

One major factor in the push for a "signature station" is the desire to turn these into destinations for not just travelers, but for shoppers, businesses and potential residents. The thinking goes that a "signature station" is more likely to attract TOD, which is usually how these stations are getting funded these days. Michael does a good job of explaining the place of a "signature station" in TOD plans in his comment.

YESONHSR said...

OC is moving along with this and with there portion LA-Artic HSR line with a good chance of Stimu funds they may be the best to start limited service first..And from the county that voted prop1A down and more than just a percentage point or two!!

Matt said...

I hope they are not counting on the maglev making it there.

Rail>Auto said...

@ Dave

I was really excited about this design until I was reminded of the NC3D design... NC3D looks much better to be quite honest about it... I almost wish the trees and buildings were switched so that there was more development directly on the river.

Also... I would like to get everyone's opinion on PRT.. I saw as a side note on that first link that Michigan is going to be doing something similar to it from Det to Ann Arbor... I don't see it as something replacing Light Rail. I see it as something replacing the auto which I'm all for.

swing hanger said...

Robert and Clem make good points about the upkeep headaches of these monumental stations. In that sense, the Mission Revival or courthouse ideas make more sense- just build a headhouse in that style, and behind where the tracks are just use purely functional butterfly umbrella sheds. This is the standard way of building stations in Japan (even dispensing with the headhouse often), and the widely praised LAUPT is this arrangement also.

Spokker said...

If HSR doesn't make it to Anaheim for some reason, that monstrosity is going to be an even bigger waste of money.

I agree with Clem. And I'll add that Orange County never embraced Prop 1A so fuck 'em. I say build utilitarian station for Anaheim.

Rafael said...

I'm surprised at the lack of Machiavellian sang froid here. If local leaders want to invest their political capital into a statewide infrastructure project, let them. It commits them to see it through to completion, boring old tracks and all.

Utilitarian buildings are cheap but they don't do much for ridership nor for attracting real estate developers to the environs of a station. Office towers, high-rise transit villages and entertainment complexes within walking distance are all desirable in terms of reducing car traffic and the associated investment in roads.

TomW said...

Clem said The primary benefit of HSR is travel time and convenience. Not a fancy station
Absolutly 100% correct. However, convinience is part of what makes HSR a more pleasent experience than the alternatives, and so is a pleasent station environment. A station like this will attract more people, it will increase the commercial potential of the station itself, and it increases the desirability of the surronding area.

The design in its current stage reveals how the outside will look, and hints that the inside will be fully of light (always good), but irevals nothign about the station will actually *work*. We need to see (at some point before plans are finalised) the interior layout.

Rafael said...

@ TomW -

you might want to look at some of the supporting docs. It's early days yet, they haven't published a floor plan or Google Sketchup model.

However, I did see an elevation drawing showing the underground parking garage as well as a rendering of the vast station hall - which, absent any foliage, will be uncomfortably bright, hot and loud.

OCTA might want to take a leaf out of RENFE's interior design for Atocha station in Madrid. It's a nice shaded place to sit down for a snack in summer.

dave said...

Like Rafael said, I really hope they are going to add a lot of foliage like at Madrid's Atocha Station.

They even have a turtle pond. I think we can settle for a regular pond.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't really grab me. Id have gone with the spanish revival or if it must be modern, then a different shape. Anyway, Its ANA, I'll never see it. My question is who is paying for the fancy stations. I don't the the authority should be paying for anything but a basic utilitarian design that can be pre fabed and copied at each location. Then local agencies can decide if its worth it upgrade for them. If the authority does pay for these stations, they should own the real estate outright and all revenues generated from the use of said rela estte should go to the railroad and not to the town. I didn't vote to pay 80 kazillion tax dollars so the OC can have this monstrosity. In SF we are paying for our own terminal. Why are "red" counties always the big free loaders. typical. as for a modern design I like this by pelli, who is also doing the TBT.

Anonymous said...

I've always liked this one I think its cincinnati

Unknown said...


Funding for ARTIC is atleast half local, and to be fair they do not want 80 kazillion dollars for northern california people to have the transbay terminal either. Like it or not, we are part of the same state no matter what our political affiliation is:

(from their website)

$81.6 million - Renewed Measure M--Project T Bond Proceeds

$6.0 million Measure M Transit Revenue

$29.2 million 2008 State Transportation Improvement Program

$58.8 million Proposition 116

$3.2 million Federal Earmark

$178.8 million

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Anonymous said...

No, this design is right. It reminds me of the central stations when I used to live in Germany.
California needs a new style that represents that we are the most advanced state on the American continent.
I hope to see a concept of a new Santa Fe Depot (San Diego), too.

Anonymous said...

@ Jim

That station reminds me of the "Hall of Justice" for the Justice League :)

Anonymous said...

yeh it does huh

Robert Cruickshank said...

I am a huge fan of Atocha Station, especially the interior plaza with the trees. It's nice and warm in winter and cool and refreshing in summer.

spence said...

Count me as one who likes the iconic, spacious, light-filled stations and I prefer modern design to mission revival although taste is very subjective.

Remember guys, this is the largest (by dollar amount) public works project in the history of the United States - at least that's what I understand. I think it's okay for there to be a few fancy architectural florishes within the system, particularly considering many of the other stations are going to be boring or hidden underground.

dave said...

"The shell of the building will be constructed with an expandable EFTE membrane - a material that expands and contracts to control natural light. It will also be fitted with photovoltaics and hot water heating cells."

According to this article.

Anonymous said...

"I think it's okay for there to be a few fancy architectural florishes within the system, particularly considering many of the other stations are going to be boring or hidden underground." A few? No, ^.^ I used to live in Germany. In Europe, all central/union stations are prestige objects. A city doesn't have a name when it doesn't have a beautiful station. Every station should look futuristic or at least modernized. When we have teh chance to do it, then we should do it the right way. :-)

Aaron said...

Not to underestimate the importance of it, but while Anaheim is the per se terminus, most passengers will be getting off by LAUS - Anaheim passengers will be vacationers or OC residents.

I'm kind of surprised that's what they're going with, given that the OC on the whole is fairly low profile. But I guess it fits there since that particular district of Anaheim is more built-up.

And actually, Adirondacker, that station immediately brought to mind the PATH monstrosity.

Spokker said...

As long as the fixed-guideway connection to Disneyland is done right, the Resort will be a big draw for HSR riders.

By that time California Adventure will be fixed and attracting a ton of new riders. By 2030 I bet you a third theme park will be built in Anaheim.

James Fujita said...

I love the design of Los Angeles Union Station.

however, at the same time, I agree with those who say that Mission style can go seriously wrong if forced onto a project of this size.

Andrew mentioned Kyoto station; I was just there a couple of months ago, so I know from experience that it is a fascinating place both inside and out.

of course, the bigger lesson to grab from Kyoto and the other Japanese train stations has nothing to do with being big (which many Japanese stations aren't), but to be sure to include more than just tracks, a waiting area and ticket machines.

the best thing about Japanese stations is that they have shops, stores, restaurants, all sorts of amenities which ensure that a station will be the focal point (and also a great meeting point) for the community.

far too often in America, train stations are looked upon as just things, rather than actual places, and that has contributed to that sense of being empty that so many stations have.

I don't know if you need such an over-the-top design, but high-speed rail in and of itself is going to be one of these "hey, look at me" big, impressive projects, what's wrong with having a couple of icons?

lyqwyd said...

I think it's wrong to say the stations are just icing on the cake. What good is a rail line without stations?

Stations are as important as the rails, and need to be developed in parallel.

The stations are the physical and visual representatives of the line and are an indication of how the society views the whole rail system. Having iconic stations is a way of saying the HSR system is a extremely important part of California.

I also think it's important that a station not be just a place people go to in order to take a train, but go to experience the place, and ideally go shopping and dining as well.

The stations are important and need to be treated as such.

As far as the design goes, there's no way everybody is going to be happy. I'd be disappointed if they did mission revival, I prefer the design they've presented to any of the alternatives that have been presented in this thread.

Ultimately it's in the eye of the beholder, different people have different aesthetics. As long as there is a significant group of people that say it is a good example of whatever the final style is will be good enough for me, even if I personally don't like it

Anonymous said...

I think the stations really do matter.

I love seeing beautiful stations en route. I enjoy traveling to a beautiful station. Even a relatively small, simple one, like Martinez: it says, "Rail is important! This is where cool people go." Or Union Station, which is full of history. Only yesterday did I have enough time there in daylight to walk around outside a bit. I never realized there were gardens.

It's busy and bustling. I was so pleased to see that, and so pleased that it's no longer a sad place with just 6 trains a day and some buses.

Anaheim is an important station, because between Disneyland, the Convention Center, and the Angels, you can expect a lot of people to think about going through there, even though it may not be a home station. That's how you get people into transit - give them a reason to try it and a spiffy experience.

Just this week I met a lovely woman who had decided to take Amtrak to Anaheim for her birthday. She was a little worried about it, since it was her first trip, and because she knew the station would not be staffed on her arrival. I hope she made her final connections smoothly and had a good time. If she did, I think she'll take the train again.


Anonymous said...

Think about it: are you going to be more interested in taking the train if your originating station looks like the proposed station, or another cute building,

or like this:

in Winnemucca, NV?


Anonymous said...

Ack, link failure.

Try this:
Amtrak Winnemucca