The architectural firm behind the remake of New York’s Grand Central Terminal will lead the effort to plan a $10 billion proposed expansion of Union Station, a project that could triple passenger capacity at the station.
Beyer Blinder Belle, with offices in New York and Washington, oversaw design, master planning and the revitalization of Grand Central, turning the 1913 Beaux Arts-style train station into a more modern, accessible and efficient rail hub. The firm has done similar work rehabilitating historic buildings in Washington including for Smithsonian museums.
Real estate magnate Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump also hired Beyer Blinder Belle for their transformation of the Old Post Office Pavilion into a luxury hotel.
At Union Station, the company will team with Grimshaw Architects to plan a massive expansion of rail and passenger capacity at Union Station that will allow the project to qualify for federal funds in future years. Grimshaw is a specialist in train station design, having worked on the Fulton Center in New York, Amsterdam’s Bijlmer Station and London’s Waterloo rail station.
The companies were chosen by the Union Station Redevelopment Corp., which manages Union Station, along with Amtrak and Akridge, a real estate firm planning 3 million square feet of development above the tracks behind the station.
Beverley Swaim-Staley, president and chief executive of the development corporation, said in an interview that over the next two to three years the companies would plan and design an expansion that to this point has mostly been envisioned in artists’ renderings.
Though the project’s backers are considering a range of public and private options for raising the money needed for the project, major investments from the federal government will be required.
Swaim-Staley said that making those requests will require a master plan demonstrating the “economic, transportation and neighborhood value” the expansion would bring to travelers and to Washington.
“We need to have the project defined,” Swaim-Staley said. “We need to have a project that everyone can look at and be excited about. Something so that people can understand what the goals are in terms of tripling capacity for passengers coming in and out of the station. This project is going to transform not only Washington, D.C., but the region.”
Because Union Station is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and overseen by a bevy of federal and local government bodies, any changes to it require many layers of approvals.
A current study, by Philadelphia-based Building Conservation Associates, is reviewing how best to preserve Union Station’s historic characteristics and determining the various ownership stakes in the property. That review is expected to be complete this summer, Swaim-Staley said.
Swaim-Staley said she believed the station would benefit from having a team of architects steeped in preservation and re-use of buildings internationally and locally. The development corporation, Amtrak and Akridge are splitting the cost of the work.
“They’ve worked on other stations around the country and around the world and also they have an extensive presence in Washington, D.C.,” she said.
Amtrak issued a statement from Bob LaCroix, deputy chief of infrastructure and investment in the Northeast, saying that “with growing demand for passenger rail service, it is imperative that we continue to advance our vision for the future of Washington Union Station.”
“Once complete, Washington Union Station will be a world-class transportation hub that will provide the region with improved mobility and connectivity for generations to come,” LaCroix said.
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