click images for larger viewOkay, let's get the cost thing out of the way first. When you can buy an entire 384,000-square-foot office building for $45 million, you may well wonder why it takes the CTA $38 million to build something like its new Green Line station at Morgan Street. And don't get me started on the whole aspect of funding the station from one of Chicago's TIF's, the slush fund that diverts $700 million in revenues each year from general purposes into what amounts to the mayor's personal piggy bank.
It would be great if an intrepid reporter or Chicago's Inspector General would do some digging and give us a piece-by-piece analysis of the construction, including any padding for the accustomed Chicago corruption tax. If these projects could be done more efficiently, I'm all for it.
Public transit infrastructure, used by millions each day and a unavoidable part of the urban landscape even non-users, is one of the most omnipresent aspects of any city's design, and often one of the most neglected. If you don't believe me, check out some of the stations on what is one of the glories of Chicago's urban character - the Loop L. A few years back, urbanologist Aaron Renn offered up an acute analysis of the value of good transit design that is just as valid today. And as his quote from Daniel Burnham indicates, the problem is long-standing.
As a rule, the general aspect of our suburban [train] stations is not pleasant. They should be bright, cheery, and inviting in a high degree.We've seen the results of "value engineering" when cost cutting eliminates some of the design's most innovative features, such as the recent rehab of CTA Fullerton station, with its opaque stairway boxes that make the platforms look cramped and oppressive.
first, Queen Anne-styled Morgan Street station opened in 1893, and it provided over a half-century of service before it's 1948 closing. The just-opened new station should last at least at long - its materials have been selected for ease of maintenance - and it's already a shining example of transformative architecture.
A collaboration between Ross Barney Architects and TranSystems, the Morgan Street Station, the first new CTA station in 15 years, has created a dramatic visual marker for the emerging Fulton Market District, a former industrial area where meatpackers and butter-and-egg men live in close quarters with bars, restaurants, art galleries, and - soon - a 35-room Chicago outlet for the trendy Soho House hotel chain, created out of a former rubber belt factory. The reflective "Morgan Station" sign on the girder identifies the location, and the 4-story high bookend towers give it character.