SOM and TranSystems will transform one of Chicago’s busiest train stops

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and TranSystems are leading the redesign and transformation of Chicago’s State/Lake Station, one of the city’s busiest stops.

The City of Chicago, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently revealed preliminary designs for the elevated station and Red Line Connection in the heart of downtown.

SOM and TranSystems will work alongside a diverse local consultant team with expertise in transit and historic preservation, and take input from neighboring property owners, plus civic and preservation organizations. The station is the second busiest in the CTA network, located at a vital junction in the Chicago Loop, and serving six of Chicago’s eight train lines, with further connections to pedestrian and bus routes.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and TranSystems are transforming State/Lake Station, one of the Chicago’s busiest train stops. Image © Chicago Department of Transportation
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and TranSystems are transforming State/Lake Station, one of the Chicago’s busiest train stops.
Image © Chicago Department of Transportation

The proposed State/Lake Station design includes wider and safer platforms, a glass canopy to protect passengers from the elements, a new accessible fly-over connection bridge, and street level enhancements.

For riders of different mobilities to transfer more easily between platforms, a new glass and metal-clad bridge on the western end of the station will connect to new elevators and stairs for fully accessible circulation from street to platform. Additional required exits will accommodate increased ridership and improve comfort and safety. Improvements to the station’s structural design will open the intersection below, removing obstructive columns and increasing safety for pedestrians and vehicles. The design also includes street-level lighting upgrades, wider street corners, an improved pedestrian crossing, and an accessible connection to the plaza to the north.

“As one of the most visible stations in the CTA network, the design is reflective of both its location and the needs of riders, with a soaring glass canopy, comfortable spaces for passengers, and fully integrated accessible design for riders of all mobility levels,” said Scott Duncan, SOM design partner.

A glass canopy with a bird friendly frit pattern provides shade in the summer and protection from harsh Chicago winds in the winter, while allowing ample daylight into the station. The transparency and lightness of the structure draws on Chicago’s history of structural innovation, from bascule bridges and early skyscrapers, to the John Hancock Center and Willis Tower.

The design is also structurally efficient, minimizing obstructions to provide expanded views of the Chicago Theatre marquee, adjacent historical buildings, and nearby architectural landmarks. Historic materials from the existing station are functionally integrated with other educational elements to provide a connection to the past and the future.

SOM and TranSystems are working closely with CDOT, CTA and the City of Chicago, engaging stakeholders, and consulting with the community through the design process. The team’s local consultant team includes HDR, GSG Consultants, Ardmore Roderick, Garza Karhoff Engineering, Legacy Rail Operations, Rider Levett Bucknall, Milhouse Engineering, site design group, Gannett Fleming, Facet Engineering, American Surveying, and Metro Strategies.

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