Today’s fast-growing, fast-paced cities need comprehensive public transport networks to meet the needs of both local people and businesses.
As such, transportation centers throughout North America are undergoing major facelifts. Cities including New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco and Toronto will spend or have spent billions on renovations and refurbishments.
The updates don’t just improve the transportation infrastructure. They enhance the entire transportation experience by transforming those hubs into modern, amenity-filled spaces offering restaurants, retail, residential accommodations and even event destinations.
“A successful transport center has become one of the mainstays of a vibrant city,” says Joe Caprile, Managing Director of JLL’s Projects and Development Services Group. “More and more people are relying on efficient, economical transit opportunities and diminishing their reliance on single automobiles.”
View the slideshow to see how six major transit hubs in North America are transforming their spaces into terminals fit for 21st century city living:
World Trade Center Transportation Hub - New York
This transit center serves 250,000 daily commuters and millions of annual visitors from around the world. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the hub occupies approximately 800,000 square feet and will ultimately connect visitors to 11 different subway lines.
The "Oculus” serves as the centerpiece of the Hub, incorporating 78,000 square feet of multi-level, state-of-the-art retail and dining. Also accessible is 290,000 more square feet of retail and dining space, making it the focal point of Lower Manhattan.
Union Station - Washington D.C.
As part of a multi-year rehabilitation and restoration of Union Station, the Main Hall has been fully restored after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck six years ago. The gold-coffered, arched ceiling has been repaired and refurbished, and a café that previously occupied the center of the Hall was dismantled, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the space as it was historically designed.
The station includes a concourse featuring a retail mall, food court and ticket counters. The East Hall may be repurposed as part of a potential hotel conversion in the future.
Transbay Transit Center - San Francisco
At a price of $4.5 billion, the Transbay Transit Center is already being dubbed “Grand Central Station of the West.” It will connect with multiple transportation systems, including California’s future High Speed Rail that will make the trip to Los Angeles in 2.5 hours.
The five-story center will include a new transit-oriented housing and business district, as well as a 5.4-acre rooftop public park comprised of an open-air amphitheater, gardens, trails, a half-mile jogging track and a restaurant and café. It has received LEED gold certification for inclusion of sustainable design features.
Penn Station - New York
Plans are in place for a new, 255,000-square-foot train hall, which will accommodate both Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020. Penn Station will be renovated, as will the Farley Post Office, at a total cost of $3 billion. The mail goal of the project is to bring more light and air into the station while alleviating congestion.
The revamped Penn Station will include free Wi-Fi, USB and laptop charging stations, and real-time updates to be installed throughout the concourse. “Several of the main transit centers in North America are terribly outdated,” says Caprile. “Too often, there hasn’t been the required infrastructure improvements to bring them into the 21st century.”
East Harbour - Toronto
This transit hub will feature 11 million square feet of office space – enough for 50,000 employees – on 60 acres. “You’ve got to attract the people,” Caprile says. “And then you’ve got to keep them there.”
East Harbour will also provide access to at least two GO Train lines, a streetcar line and the future Relief Line Subway. The development will improve transit access for the development site and surrounding South Riverdale neighborhood. It also significantly improves the active transportation options with new cycling paths, and it will likely relieve crowded existing transit infrastructure in Union Station, among other locations.
30th Street Station - Philadelphia
A total of $6.5 billion in public and private investment will transform 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia. New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be crated under the plan. One estimate showed 20 to 25 million passengers would pass through this expanded station annually.
“Transit centers are key hubs of activity and commerce inherently because so many people pass through them,” says Caprile. The project would create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.