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Union Station Advocates weigh in -- mildly -- on proposed station architecture

train roof.JPG
Courtesy of Skidmore Owings Merrill
The proposed Union Station train shed

As noted in the blog "New Architectural Images Released of Denver International Airport. Oh, Wait, That's Denver Union Station," the developers behind the ongoing Union Station project recently unveiled new architectural concepts for the transit hub -- including some ideas, espeically the train shed canopy, that seemed less than wonderful. Maybe it was because the proposed train shed's Teflon fabric seemed too reminiscent of Denver International Airport, or maybe the shed design itself lacked a certain drama and grandeur. But it left some observers wondering if this would really be the best way to accentuate the new gateway to Denver.

After several weeks of deliberation, Union Station Advocates, a citizens' group focused on the station's new public spaces, have released a letter weighing in on the situation, the entirety of which is printed below. It's far from a call to arms: "Although we support the majority of the features of the design to date," the letter states, "we believe there is still room for improvement and we look forward to a lively dialog to that end. Such features as the train shed canopy materials and configuration and the above-grade pedestrian circulation structures' positions and materials are typical of our remaining concerns, but we believe these issues are at too early a design stage for us to voice any strong opinions."

Those are definitely not fighting words. It looks like the Advocates are still optimistic that Union Station's future can be improved through cordial discussion and reserved give-and-take. But if the design doesn't start shaping up soon, who knows -- maybe the "lively dialog" the Advocates' letter refers to will end up involving some feisty exclamation points.

Click "Continue" to read the letter.

March 10, 2009

Dear Joel,

Union Station Advocates (USA) is a self-organized citizens' group with over 150 members and a 14 member board. Our mission is to ensure that the public's interests are considered in the Denver Union Station (DUS) project and that the project continues to be an example of outstanding public/private cooperation.

To that end, we are committed to remaining current with its progress and bringing timely updates to our members via meetings, our monthly newsletter, our website (www.unionstationadvocates.org) and our blog (www.unionstationadvocates.blogspot.com).

It is our great desire to ensure that the DUS site--as the hub of the entire regional transit system--and especially its public spaces are leading examples of progressive, sustainable and world-class design and that the renovated DUS will remain a landmark for the city, state and region. We remain cautiously optimistic about the progress being made in the design toward that goal.

USA also continues to support RTD and the other stakeholders. Considering the seemingly insurmountable budget difficulties with which RTD is currently dealing (as are all public entities reliant on sales-tax revenues), we believe they are doing an excellent job of identifying budget issues on a timely basis, keeping the financial options transparent to the public, and moving the project forward.

Yet, there are still many decisions to be made and much opportunity for public input on the project's public spaces and transit elements. Although we support the majority of the features of the design to date, we believe there is still room for improvement and we look forward to a lively dialog to that end. Such features as the train shed canopy materials and configuration and the above-grade pedestrian circulation structures' positions and materials are typical of our remaining concerns, but we believe these issues are at too early a design stage for us to voice any strong opinions.

It is our sincere hope that the leadership team (the stakeholders, developer, engineering and design firms) will continue to hear and to respond to our concerns. Thus far, we are encouraged by their collective commitment and dedication to ensure that the successful rebirth of DUS will affirm Denver's rank among America's most forward-thinking cities.

Sincerely,
Union Station Advocates


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