City’s revitalization projects include rail station
Auburn, Wash., has completed construction of a new commuter rail station that is intended to lead the way in revitalizing the city’s central business district. The station’s design incorporates elements of the city’s history, existing architecture and culture.
Located between Seattle and Tacoma in the Green River Valley, Auburn is a rapidly growing city. Responding to the growth, city officials saw a need to revitalize the declining central business district. As part of that revitalization, they identified the need for a new commuter rail station. They planned a two-phase project that would include a bus transit center, park-and-ride lots, parking structures, retail shops, plazas, a pedestrian bridge, a rail station, and a drop-off area for train and bus riders.
During the first phase of the project, city officials contracted with Anil Verma Associates, a Los Angeles-based architecture and engineering design firm, to design a safe, comfortable transportation center that would be the nucleus of revitalization efforts. The firm coordinated its work with Seattle-based Sound Transit, Seattle-based Metro Transit, Auburn’s Technical Advisory Committee and the Community Task Force.
From the beginning, the city wanted the new buildings to fit in with the style of Auburn’s historic buildings and the city’s culture. Therefore, the resulting design of the rail station structure, completed in August 2000, includes an architectural detail found on some of the city’s older buildings — lighted corbels that illuminate the face of the structure and the plaza. While ultra-modern, the glass pyramid roof, which floats on brick piers, is meant to resemble Native American tepees and Japanese pagodas — structures associated with the cultures of people that have settled in the city.
The design firm also incorporated the city’s transportation history into the colors of the station. Because the city once served as a rail depot sending produce to other areas of the country, the station has red and green accents representing lettuce and strawberries. A large clock tower, lit internally by fiber optics, stands in the center of the plaza.
The second phase of the project began in August and includes the construction of a parking garage for 600 cars and the design of a bus transit center, a community plaza, drop-off areas and retail shops. A pedestrian bridge 28 feet above the rail tracks will span a bus roadway and connect the train platforms with the parking garage.
The design of the rail station and transit center received the Vision 2020 Award from the Puget Sound Regional Council in March. The award recognizes efforts by public and private organizations that are improving the quality of life in the region. Additionally, the station has succeeded in its goal of attracting new business to the central business district. Commercial redevelopment adjacent to the station has begun, and several new freeway access ramps are under construction.