Housing Complex

Union Station Scales Back Plans for “Pit” in Main Hall, Proposes Mini-Pits Instead

The new plan. (GTM Architects)

Around this time last year, preservationists were aghast at the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation's idea to cut a giant pit in the floor of the main hall with an elevated cafe above it and glass elevators descending to the food court below. After disappearing for a while, they've come back with a more modest proposal: Cutting two smaller openings in the floor for escalators instead, and adding several kiosks around the edges, plus an assortment of benches.

According to recorded comments, there was still a good deal of skepticism among both governmental and citizen groups about the need for the new holes, as well as their attendant signage. If you want to weigh in, USRC is taking comments until September 7.

Full presentation after the jump.

  • Matthew

    The key word here is "Corporation" - which virtually guarantees that any redevelopment will simply be about maximizing commerce and cash, with everything else put in second (or rather) last place. This plan boils it all down to "more buying opportunities," which is a pretty one-dimensional approach.

    Union Station became popular after its first big renovation largely thanks to the food court and shops, but let's not forget the context: it filled a need in a largely blighted, otherwise moribund section of downtown DC. Now that the entire area has seen a revitalization, and H Street is (probably) on the way as well, it's unlikely that simply redux-ing that old plan will work.

    Union Station needs some new thinking entirely. The shops and food vendors are fine but tired, and appeal now mainly to travelers. If you want people to go to the station even if they're not traveling, you need to put in something worthwhile to visit. Or don't renew some of the leases and put in some shops that are not found anywhere else in DC...

  • Brad

    What does the rest of the lower level look like with these new escalators? I reckon it creates a space with more limited use -- if not useless space -- between the stairs, old escalators and new elevators.

  • teri

    This is lame. Union Station is missing its Theater. The shops and restaurants are fine without this fiasco. A theater is a destination.

  • anon

    That movie theater was the absolute worst place to see a movie in DC for the last 10 years of its existence. It's hardly missed.

  • Anon2

    Isn't there any kind of historic preservation group/board that can prevent this from happening? The current cafe isn't great, but cutting two huge holes in the floor pretty much guarantees they will never be filled back in.

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