Union Station 2020

Tactical Operations are site-specific architectural interventions that mediate the accumulation of history and speculation. By addressing a range of site and building conditions in concurrence with the shifting demands of the contemporary city, such interventions attempt to re-interpret these connections mindfully and with precision.

Consideration for the given context frames the logic for a tactical approach. In 1969 Daniel Burnhamís Union Station suffered the demolition of its counterpart, the Train Concourse, and was thus accompanied by the generic office tower that still occupies the site. The Mercantile Stock Exchange building by Perkins/Will with SOM completed in 1972 concluded the awkward grouping of these structures. The confusion and complexity of the site is compounded by the proximity of the Chicago River, I-90/94 and a dense array of public transportation nodes.

In re-envisioning Union Station Chicago and the surrounding context, Tactical Operations acknowledges the cultural value and embodied energy of existing structures and challenges the Modernist orthodoxy of the tabula rasa. The scheme proposes the re-purposing and re-structuring of existing buildings and links them with a Circulation-Information Loop, a way-finding device and information feed that enlaces Union Station with the new transportation hub, the Chicago River and multiple public spaces. Union Station is reorganized to accommodate the Midwest Regional Market and the Hotel with a connection to the anticipated Clinton Street Corridor. Above the railway, the tower matrix absorbs extensive parking requirements through an automated system and also offers a new programmatic component to the project, the vertical farm. The farm allows localized food distribution to occur at the same location as its production.

It is through Tactical Operations that energy and resources are conserved, histories are grafted with emerging speculation and new environments are formed that can enrich and inspire contemporary architecture such as Chicagoís new High Speed Rail Station.

Date: 2008

Scale: 475000 SQ FT

Location: Chicago, IL

Type: Mixed Use