Amtrak hires Arup to modernise Union Station in Washington DC

10 May 2016 3 min. read

Amtrak has hired Arup, KGP Design Studio and Grimshaw to provide design and engineering design services for the revamp of Union Station in Washington DC. The transformation will overhaul the station’s intercity and commuter rail concourse. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Union Station, in Washington DC, opened in 1907 with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Pittsburgh Express. In the following decades the station grew into one of the busiest across the US, but, in 1981, in part because of the General Accounting Office's conclusion that the station was heading for a major structural collapse unless repairs were made, Union Station was closed.

To preserve the iconic Union Station, dubbed a ‘national treasure’, for generations to come, Congress enacted the Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981. The Act resulted in a massive revamp, and was the most complex public/private restoration project ever attempted in the US, at a cost of $160 million. The station today provides 200,000 square feet for passenger/baggage facilities and public space, 210,000 square feet for retail and 100,000 square feet for Amtrak, the station’s main operator, for its corporate headquarters. The station, which is owned by the US Department of Transportation, currently services around 37 million passengers annually.

Amtrak recently hired Arup, as well as KGP Design Studio and Grimshaw, for a collaborative effort to redesign, renovate and modernise the station’s intercity and commuter rail concourse. The aim of the project is to revamp the user’s experience through the application of modern ‘state-of-the-art’ techniques and tools to meet passenger expectations. The concourse upgrade includes new restrooms, boarding gates, seating, and a newly expanded station lounge called ClubAcela.

Amtrak hires Arup to modernise Union Station in Washington DC

Arup, a global consulting firm with 11,000+ staff across 40+ countries, will provide structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services. The project will add an additional 20,000 square feet of passenger space. Construction is set to begin in 2017, with planning aimed at reducing the impact on station users. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

A spokesperson from Arup states: “The design also features natural light elements to enliven the space for travellers. The result will be a vastly reconfigured, modernised, and unified concourse that will improve the passenger experience by providing better accessibility, circulation, wayfinding, and multimodal connectivity.”

Another recent station re-development project in which Arup was involved is the Kings Cross Station in London, for which it won a Major Project Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering two years ago. Future plans for revamping both the New Delhi Railway Station in India and the Penza Railway Station in Russia are underway, as well as a bid for a £1 billion+ redevelopment plan of Euston Station in London.