They are doing some Metro Station redesign here, and not a decade too soon. There is controversy, of course.

I’m hoping this process includes finishing the FARRAGUT NORTH STATION, which has been undergoing FOR YEARS NOW a design process to make users feel that they have died and gone to the bad place. This has included the infamous Black Box of Doom, a plywood structure of exquisite capacity to depress the spirit, now gone but replaced by two Junior Plywood Boxes of Whatever, that conceal repair efforts, or the lack thereof. Also featured: The Sky is Falling look of 30% missing ceiling tiles. These too have been missing FOR YEARS. Also featured up there are the two plywood patches where the backhoe up on street level BROKE THROUGH into the station, showering concrete pieces down like gentle rain or bowling balls. The gridding they are installing for what one presumes will be NEW ceiling tiles is obviously somebody’s hobby, somebody without a DEADLINE, because bits show up now and then amongst the dangling work lamps, without consistent pattern or progress. Oh, and did I mention two out-of-service escalators?

Anyway the new station designs will feature brighter lighting (yeah!), but are trapped between critiques from preservationists and functionalists, the former who want to preserve the “historic” character of the “modernist” ‘70’s design, and the later who think the look of the stations has nothing to do with function. That first question is unresolvable. How much ‘old modern’ we want to keep is a matter of opinion and opinions vary. But as to the functionality question, here’s what. In a world where we’ve got to figure out a way to share rapidly skewing wealth, one place to share it is in public transportation services. We should be building systems nationwide that are bgeautiful, environmentally friendly, and a joy for all of us to use when at home and travelling for business or pleasure around what could be a great and beautiful nation. That IS function. So let’s do that.