Doug Aitken’s “Station to Station” Winds Its Way Across the Country

National
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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(Courtesy Station to Station)

(Courtesy Station to Station)

On Friday night at Riverfront Studios, motion-picture soundstages on 3 acres of East River waterfront between the Williamsburg Bridge and the Navy Yard, the newest art project by Doug Aitken called Station to Station was launched. Aitken did the “destruction” of Gallery 303 last year, Creative Time’s Broken Screen Happening at the Essex Street Market and Sleepwalkers projected on the wall of MoMA’s Sculpture Garden.

On the site of the former Schaefer Brewery, spotted in the crowd was Agnes Gund, Klaus Biesenbach, Chrissie Iles, Roxana Marcoci, Linda Yablonsky, Lisa Phillips and other art world luminaries. This event marked the inaugural nomadic “Happening” that moves in an Aitken-designed train from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Coast stopping at nine different locations each time for a one-night-only live event in September. The scene was set for live performances that included a colorful site-specific smoke bomb installation by Olaf Breuning; food happening created by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija; and an original performance choreographed by Jonah Bokaer inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Pelican (1963) on the occasion of work’s 50th anniversary and more.

Continue reading after the jump.

On Track: Funding Secured for Rail Line Connecting Boston’s Innovation District

East
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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Proposed route of Track 61. (Courtesy Google / Montage by AN)

Proposed route of Track 61. (Courtesy Google / Montage by AN)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dedicating millions in funding 
to revive an inactive rail line, known as Track 61, to shuttle Bostonians between the bustling neighborhoods of Back Bay and the Seaport District. In the last decade, Mayor Menino has helped to transform Boston’s waterfront into a 
tech hub—accompanied by an influx of mixed-use developments—dubbed the 
Innovation District, which is now in need of better transit options to support this surge in activity. The city anticipates that the rail line will be up and running 
in roughly two years.

Blobs, Turf, and High-Slung Hammocks Among Chicago’s “Active Union Station” Winners

Midwest
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
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Latent Design & Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s “Blah Blah Blob!”

Latent Design & Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s “Blah Blah Blob!”

The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago announced the winners of its “Active Union Station” competition, which is meant to enliven the railroad hub’s underused public spaces. Although it’s the nation’s third busiest train station and gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s Union Station remains basically a waypoint on a longer trip.

Continue reading after the jump.

Herzog & de Meuron Chosen To Redevelop Historic Melbourne Train Station

International, Newsletter
Monday, August 12, 2013
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Flinders St. Station (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

Flinders St. Station (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals.

Continue reading after the jump.

Illinois Takes Helm of High-Speed Rail Group

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today named Illinois’ Department of Transportation the leader of a multi-state effort to advance high-speed rail. Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will use $808 million from the FRA to build 35 new diesel locomotives and 130 bi-level rail cars. California led the group last year, in which 130 bi-level rail cars were procured for high-speed service.

Read More

Happy 100th, Grand Central! Festivities Mark Centennial of Manhattan Landmark

East
Friday, February 1, 2013
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A LEGO model of Grand Central Terminal built for the station's 100th birthday. (Courtesy Kevin Ortiz / @MTA_NYCT_Vocero)

A LEGO model of Grand Central Terminal built for the station’s 100th birthday. (Courtesy Kevin Ortiz / @MTA_NYCT_Vocero)

Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand ‘ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world.

In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)

View a couple historic photos after the jump.

High Speed Rail picks up speed between Chicago and St. Louis

City Terrain, Midwest, Transportation
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

Midwest train travelers will enjoy a quicker passage, as Amtrak approves a new top speed of 110 mph for a section of its Chicago-St. Louis route. Though trains will only accelerate to the new top speed over a 15-mile segment, officials said another $1.5 billion investment over three years of upgrades will bring the rest of the track up to speed.

The current top speed is 79 mph over most of the route. Instead of 5 and a half hours, future trips could be under 4 hours. Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak tested a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates earlier this year.

Amtrak’s Midwest presence has seen a significant ridership boost, following trends around the country. Transit in general may be enjoying a small renaissance, with the CTA counting 16 months of rail and bus line increases. Despite setting ridership records, Amtrak is losing money and faces an uncertain future.

Illinois To Test High-Speed Rail South of Joliet

High-speed rail in Taiwan. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

High-speed rail in Taiwan. (loudtiger/Flickr)

Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak have sought permission from federal regulators to conduct the first test of high-speed rail in Illinois. A 20-mile track between the cities of Dwight and Pontiac could be a proving ground for the 110 mph passenger train starting October 1.

They would be testing a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates — one that uses radio signals to raise gates 80 seconds before a crossing in order to give the faster trains more time to slow down or stop if necessary. The current system uses track circuits to communicate, and allows the normal 79-mph trains 30 to 35 seconds of clearance before a crossing. The Illinois Department of Transportation will conduct a survey to determine whether motorists will tolerate the longer wait times.

Funding for high-speed rail was narrowly approved in California earlier this month, as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and others continued to build on growing excitement for high-speed rail in the heartland.

Jeff Koons Proposes Bringing Trains Back to the High Line

East, West
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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Courtesy Friends of the High Line

When preliminary designs for the third and final section of the High Line were revealed, the designers presented several options including flowerbeds and amphitheater seating for the Tenth Avenue Spur, an offshoot of the park that stands above the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street. The design team’s aim is to make the Spur one of the main gathering spaces in the park. Now, with the proposal of a massive installation by artist Jeff Koons calling for a suspended locomotive over the park, the Spur may become exhibition space as well.

Continue reading after the jump.

Santiago Calatrava’s Lower Manhattan PATH Station begins to takes flight

It’ll be at least 4 years before Santiago Calatrava’s scaled-back, over-budget World Trade Center PATH station is completed (though as our upcoming feature on Lower Manhattan showcases, everything’s been a long time coming, but it seems to have finally arrived). Still, from the start of the interminable process, we’ve had some of the flashiest renderings around to tuck us in at night. Now comes an illustrated video courtesy the Journal‘s Metropolis blog that gives us our clearest view yet of just what’s planned, as well as what Calatrava meant when he told the New Yorker a while back that he was striving for something akin to Grand Central—a truly great room where the interiors, not the exteriors, would be what truly matters. If this video is any indication, despite all the cutbacks, he’s succeeded grandly.

Some Serious Equipment

City Terrain, East, Transportation
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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It would appear the Second Avenue Subway is really, truly happening. Not to have doubted all the construction work that’s gone on so far, but we have been-there-done-that about half-a-dozen times over the past century. Now, however, the 200-ton Cutter Head has arrived, the main piece of the Tunnel Boring Machine that will begin carving out the tunnels for the first phase of the new line. The MTA posted some pretty cool pics of the device, including the one above, on its Facebook page. And if that weren’t socially networked enough, there’s a YouTube flick of the thing being lowered underground with a soundtrack that sounds oddly like that of a softcore sex scene in some ’90s movie. Second Avenue Sagas points out that this is largely “symbolic,” as the real challenge, technically and fiscally, is not digging but building the lines and stations. That said, we still wonder if all this money wouldn’t be better spent on maintaining service than pushing ahead with capital projects, even if it does mean their nth death. While you ponder, the flick and more pics after the jump.

Full Steam Ahead

East, East Coast
Monday, January 18, 2010
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A bronze mural, one of two designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, adorns the recently renovated lobby of 230 Park Avenue (Courtesy Monday Properties)

While the preservation experts at Beyer Blinder Belle are typically busy making old structures look new with new components that look old (like, say, the signage at a certain skyscraper), BBB’s designers also from time to time design from whole cloth. Or whole bronze, as is the case for a pair of murals created for a recent lobby renovation to 230Park Avenue, the former Helmsley Building that caps Grand Central. Last Monday, Monday Properties president Anthony Westreich, the building’s owner, dedicated the murals along with local pols Scott Stringer and Daniel Garodnick and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney. Weighing more than a ton, the murals—which were drawn by Chris Ludlow and sculpted by Joan Benefiel under the direction of BBB—hark back to the building’s history as the former headquarters for the New York Central Railroad, depicting a train speeding by with the distinctive profile of 230 Park in the background. See more photos from the dedication and shop after the jump. Read More

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