Wednesday, April 17, 2013

King Street What?

So King Street Station looks really nice. Good for it.

All works, artistic or otherwise, say something about their creators. Train stations like this were monuments to the wealth and power of long-dead rail barons and their once-proud companies, statements (perhaps aspirational) of cities' positions among their peers. When they're restored this projects cities' commitment to preservation and restoration of their histories and become monuments to that. Preserving a city's history. Put that way, almost anyone will support it, and so urbanists and NIMBYs alike marched hand-in-hand to protest Madison Square Garden.

Train stations like this are just not that interesting to me because they tell the same story in every city. If people still traveled by rail they could go coast to coast walking through the same opulently overdecorated halls in every major city. They're as banal as airports and freeways in that way. Airports and freeways give the awful impression that nobody cares about this place... or if someone does, maybe you wish they didn't (LOL? Actually Denver is a pretty rad place to change planes as these things go). American train stations in the year 2013 give the impression that nobody cares whether or not they work. They just need to preserve something about the city's history... its history, its history, its history, its history...

But at least someone cares about the inside space of the place. In a country where we aggressively don't care (you may not want to listen to Kunstler rant bitterly for 20 minutes, but stay on through the intro muzak and listen to the first bitter, ranty sentence) about our public spaces. So... I guess when we have a space like this, even if it's in a sense generic, we should make it a place people can pass through as much as possible. Yeah. I wasn't quite sure where I was going to go with this post, but I think I'll go there. It should at least be a place people can use to exit the Sounder if it's on their way (or if they feel like detouring) like Chicago's Union Station, or can cut through during lousy weather like the Merch Mart.

1 comment:

Nick Barnard said...

King Street Station is going to be more functional than it was. You'll actually be able to enter the building from Jackson instead of winding your way around the King County building or taking the bridge over the Sounder station.

Amtrak has gotten a new bag room and a new functional, but fitting to the style, ticket office. There is also the potential for retail to move into King Street Station, but it'll need a bit more passenger volume.

AFAIK, the Sounder station at "King Street Station" and the Amtrak station at King Street Station are functionally separate. You can't get from one to the other without crossing train tracks (a no no) or going up the stairs and walking around.