Ottawa is approaching a key moment in city building quickly, as we continue along the timeline towards construction of the $2.1B light-rail transit plan. Along the rail line from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Station, we'll see a good number of rail stations, including a few underground along the downtown tunnel. So if we're fairly certain we're going to see light-rail actually come to fruition, what will the rail stations look like?
Over on Spacing Ottawa on Tuesday, David McClelland took a look at the architecture in Ottawa's current public transit infrastructure, and discussed the merits of considering form as well as function in the design of our next big project. From the article:
"At the end of the day, let's not forget that transit is a fundamental element of public space in any big city, and that those spaces should be enjoyable and perhaps even iconic places to be in. Ottawa has traditionally shied away from truly impressive civic architecture, but the new LRT represents an excellent chance to change that philosophy. After all, it's not all that often that we start totally reconstructing our rapid transit system, so it would be tragic to let this opportunity slip by us."
So... will we get "more of the same", as McClelland put it, in the form of the red and glass and concrete hamster tubes serving as transit stations now, as seen in the topmost image?
Or maybe we'll get stations similar to those at the new Baseline Station: Aluminum supports and roofing around glass walls, which is a bit nicer looking than the red hamster cages, but could still become monotonous if implemented across the city.
A few months ago on West Side Action, Eric Darwin pondered what kind of stations we might get for our light-rail transit stations. He hoped for an instantly recognizable, dramatically designed station, similar to Detroit's Rosa Parks Transit Centre, as pictured below. It's a 25,700-square-foot transit hub that ties in the transit systems of Detroit and Windsor (hey, a station tying two different cities together? That sounds like something Ottawa could use... ). According to Arch Daily, the station had a budget of $22.5M in total; a lot for Ottawa to spend on each station, perhaps, but certainly reasonable for one or some of the largest hubs we'll have.
The $4.2B price tag San Francisco might move forward with is a little pricey, but Ottawa's doesn't have to be the size of San Francisco's; size isn't really the point here, anyway. Finding a way to integrate bus, rail, pedestrian, cycling, taxi, and even personal automobile transportation into a dynamic, functional hub would do a lot for downtown. And it would put Ottawa's transit system on the map.
Realistically, something between the existing hamster tube stations and the San Francisco Space Station is likely the best solution for the City of Ottawa. Finding a shoe that fits is the key to the process of finding a good design for our transit stations.