Place Stations: Creating Fun and Functional Transit Centers

March 15, 2012

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Union Station, photo by flckr user keith011764

With highways and arterial roads plagued by congestion and the price of gas making airline travel more cost-prohibitive, trains—an efficient, economical means of travel—are once again a hot topic. Likewise, cities and planners are re-examining the potential of major train stations as destinations and economic development hubs, not just spaces people rush through to catch said train. Major rail stations, from Washington, D.C. to Berlin, have been transformed from solely spaces of transaction to places—with indoor and outdoor plazas, restaurants and retail opportunities, and year-round programming.

"Place Stations" focuses on the role of placemaking in the planning and design of Union Stations across the country, with particular focus on Denver and Washington, D.C.’s stations as vibrant and valuable public places. As the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) studies the redesign and expansion of Chicago Union Station, we discuss how to maximize the impact of dollars spent on increasing operating capacity, as well as enhance the station’s stature as a civic asset and a catalyst for economic growth in the city and throughout the region.

Transportation expert and former Amtrak chairman and CEO Tom Downs keynotes this session, offering his reflections on transit stations as economic drivers and social hubs. Frank Cannon, development director with Continuum Partners, LLC, describes the innovative public spaces, retail opportunities, and creative financing that define Denver’s new Union Station. Luann Hamilton, deputy director of CDOT, shares Chicago’s vision for its own Union Station.

Recorded Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at the Metropolitan Planning Council.