Though it remains unfinished, the Silver Spring Transit Center has been in planning since 1997. But 20 years before that, architecture students created a proposal for a giant box stretching across downtown Silver Spring.
Silver Spring is one of the region’s largest transportation hubs, bringing together Metro, commuter rail, local buses and intercity buses, and eventually the Purple Line and the Capital Crescent Trail. Fitting all of those pieces presents a pretty interesting design challenge and naturally attracts architecture students. When I was in architecture school at the University of Maryland, I saw more than a few thesis projects reimagining the transit center.
Recently, Action Committee for Transit’s Neil Greene found a proposal for the Silver Spring Transit Center produced by a group of architecture students at Catholic University in the 1970s, right before the Metro station opened in 1978. Like the most recent plans for the transit center, which have since fallen through, they surrounded the transit center with buildings containing apartments, offices, a hotel and shops. Except in this proposal, they’d all be in one giant superstructure surrounding the station platform.
In their design, Metro trains would pull into a giant, skylit atrium, surrounded by shops and restaurants, with apartments, offices and hotel rooms above. That was a really popular idea at the time, pioneered by architect John Portman, though I don’t know of any atria that included a train station.
Dan Reed blogs at Just Up the Pike. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.