Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicago Tribune Critic Likes New Green Line Station at Cermak, But Has Questions About Motor Row Plans

Inside the new CTA Green Line Station at Cermak (via CBS)
Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune Architecture Columnist, has positive thoughts on the new Green Line stop at Cermak that just opened last weekend. (behind Chicago Tribune paywall):
The new $50 million Green Line station, designed by Chicago's Ross Barney Architects, corrects that mistake and makes a civic statement in the bargain. 
Forgoing a typical forest of columns, lead architect Carol Ross Barney wrapped a steel-frame tube around the midsection of the station's 600-foot-long platform. There's no clutter, just an airy, column-free space. Lights, directional signs and speakers are carefully integrated into metal trays suspended from the tube. From within, travelers can look through the tube's perforated metal skin and see McCormick Place, orienting themselves. 
The design recalls the bold gesture Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas made in 2003 when he enclosed the "L" structure above his Illinois Institute of Technology campus center with a sound-baffling concrete tube clad in corrugated steel. But the design grew from a different set of needs: to make a narrow passenger platform feel as spacious as possible.

While the review of the station is pretty positive, he has doubts on the city's plan for Motor Row and the surrounding neighborhood.
"I would love to see tree-lined streets … where people are walking," Dowell said. The Planning Department's recently released study of the Near South Side calls for turning Motor Row into a "walkable, pedestrian-scale 'Main Street'" and for "streetscape enhancements" along Michigan, Cermak, and 23rd and 24th streets.  
These well-intentioned, but vague, goals need to be fleshed out with the same spirit of innovation that the Pier and Exposition Authority brought to its 2012 design competition for remaking Navy Pier's public spaces. We need more than cliched images of sidewalks lined with umbrella-topped tables. Or historic lampposts decorated with colorful banners. 
On Motor Row, for example, why not put lightly trafficked Michigan Avenue on a "road diet" that would widen sidewalks and make way for bike lanes and trees? A bold gateway, like the monumental steel Puerto Rican flags that span Division Street on the West Side, would signal the area's presence and modernity.

If you have access to the Chicago Tribunes premium content, it's worth a read.  Regardless, Kamin concedes that the new green line station is a step in the right direction, but there are a lot of new things that need to happen.

While we don't completely disagree, there is some news happening on Motor Row and we just read on Prairie District Neighborhood Alliances facebook page that they have some new news to share:

No comments: