This studio interprets our studios’ shared theme of (public) Works: Fitting Out WPA 2.0 via a familiar building type that was more prominent in the time of New Deal 1.0 but is resurgent in other countries today: THE RAILWAY STATION.
This studio proposes to learn from but then replace a respectable but aging station on the northeast corridor Acela line, in Providence RI. Whereas major rail terminals in Europe and East Asia have become a favorite trophy building type lately, many with undulating canopies, nevertheless a smaller more sparing building can teach the design basics better. Providence Station (SOM 1983) is just that: rational, classical, brutalist, and minimalist all in one. This building was also a small catalyst for ambitious urban design: the transformation of gritty Providence into one of America’s favorite small cities. With that project now under study for expansion (although here we imagined full replacement), and with $24 billion for Acela in the recent federal Infrastructure bill, this studio studied many stations from which to propose a new one here, for a growing ridership, more diverse not only in its identities, or in its civic values, but also more diverse in its new mobilities.
“EXHIBIT 01: THE CONNECTOR”
The train is a vital connector between places and people, yet, it is forced to be invisible and hidden from typical city life. In response to this phenomenon, this redesign of the Providence train station and its plaza places the train on exhibit and takes back its authority within the urban fabric of Rhode Island. The cut-out core exposes the hidden trains underground and allows passengers to retain a constant visual connection with the train as they explore the programs and views placed along the perimeter. Highlighted by a giant skylight, cascading escalators, and vertical pillars of elevators, the middle becomes a moment of repose and show amidst the bustling movements inside and around the station.