Model Innovations Judson Architecture Students Design Scaled-Down Train Depots

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

Model Innovations Judson Architecture Students Design Scaled-Down Train Depots


As a downtown Chicago Metra commuter the last four years, I usually enjoy walking to the National Street or Chicago Street train stations that are a 10-minute walk from my house in Elgin.

But after missing the 7:44 a.m. from National Street one bitterly cold morning and waiting an hour in the unheated shelter, two thoughts ran through my mind: "You are dumb for missing that train" and "Why doesn't this station have a warming platform or depot?"

Tom Miller, a Metra spokesman, couldn't address my tardiness issue but commented on the more than $2 million planned for station improvements. Metra will hire its own architect and work with the city of Elgin during those improvements.

Officials also may want to consider some ideas developed by 10 architecture students at Judson College. As a part of a two-week sketch and design project to improve a public building, the students have produced innovative ideas for a new National Street depot and platforms.

Although the students didn't produce cost estimates for the plans, many of their ideas would transform the barren parcel with its obscure shelter and unimaginative strip parking lots into a design showcase near Center City.

Perhaps one of the more bold designs to come out of the class of associate professor Keelan Kaiser, a design that blended the latest technology and traditional architecture, was the brainchild of Jason Burger, a third-year architecture student from Iowa.

After studying trends in earthquake-prone areas such as Japan, Burger created a series of platforms parallel to the tracks featuring air-filled pneumatic roofs like the one on the Super Dome. Each structure is supported by delicate turn-of-the-century arches.

"I think the design fits well into the context of the site because if you were to look at it from above, you would see a tree motion in the air-filled roof," Burger said.

"All around the station are trees. If you were to look at my plan from the ground level, you would see the arches, which reflect one of the more traditional aspects of older train stations."

Burger feels his design would stand out and that the roofing materials would cost less than typical steel construction.

"This design would transform a rather obscure site into a gateway area," he said. "Instead of it being a spot where the (Grand Victoria) casino is, it would be a spot where the train station is."

Incorporating nature into a design was another theme developed by Isaac Turner. …

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