Rethinking Union Station in an Era of High-Speed Rail

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ll be on the jury for a design competition hosted in Chicago next month, brought to you by the Chicago Architectural Club. The purpose of the competition is to rethink – and redesign – Chicago’s Union Station, updating it for an era of high-speed rail travel in the United States.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit late in the game to be announcing this: designs are due by October 15!
But I’ve uploaded the competition brief to my Flickr page, so check it out �– and hopefully it’s not too late for some of you to participate.
I’ll be meeting with the jury to announce our decision on Sunday, November 9; you can read more about that here.
But if our transportation options change, and high-speed rail does become an infrastructural fact of American life, then how can the design of our cities keep pace? What will Chicago – indeed, what will all metropolitan forms in the American midwest – look like in the year 2020, if high-speed rail becomes a viable option? Will we see future super-cities hot-linked one to another across the plains – or simply well-made train stations plunked into existing cities here and there?
While I’m in Chicago next month I will also be hosting an amazing panel with Jeffrey Inaba, Sam Jacob, and Joseph Grima, easily three of the most interesting people working in architecture today – but I’ll be posting more about that soon.

13 thoughts on “Rethinking Union Station in an Era of High-Speed Rail”

  1. No way! That’s awesome. I happened to read this while, ironically, taking a break from prepping a post about the US2020 competition for the new job-o. Congrats.

  2. The plans they’ve already got could (in theory) work, especially if the public transport in that area is good. High-speed station, local hub, apartments and hotel/convention center all in the same building.

  3. I live in neighboring Iowa, the eastern side. We’ve approved a new connection to handle passenger passenger service to Chicago (and other cities) via first medium, then high-speed rail. I ran into the city engineer where I live and he’s confirmed that similar plans to ready the (small) city I live in for rail again are in formation.

    This competition couldn’t have come at a better time (I’ll be watching, not designing). What will win: Classic? Modern? Contemporary as in better than Berlin? It will be fun to see what comes up.

  4. “High-speed station, local hub, apartments and hotel/convention center all in the same building.”
    And it also quite convenient…
    Cant wait to see the final results on this…

  5. Darn, wish I had known about the competition sooner…still, maybe I can get a team on board.

    If you are in Chicago all weekend, you should checkout Pilsen District’s 2nd Fridays gallery opening, on Friday November 14th. Don’t know if you have been there since your UC days, but the area’s really picking up. Specifically check out Extension Gallery for Architecture. I think they will have a new exhibit up at that time.

  6. Not sure why this relatively centrally-located building and natural hub needs to have the same old hotel/convention-apartment building functions attached to it…maybe if it is just seen as an efficient way to pass through or arrive in chicago, without those bells and whistles? It just seems like those functions are glommed on to every public project these days.

  7. I… like the idea of high speed rail leading to super cities. I imagine something in the vein of BAMA (Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis or The Sprawl) from William Gibson’s early novels.

    But I don’t think that’s very realistic, unfortunately. As a society, we seem rather attached to our “small towns,” even if they are mostly fantasy (as the Political Geography post explained reasonably well).

    The competition sounds fascinating, I look forward to hearing about the results. I have thing for transportation buildings. I love airports. People look at me funny when I say that.

  8. Nooo… Just looked up the schedule for the Burham panel on the 9th, and they are already sold out. Do know of any chances of late-comers getting in?

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