Future of Transit: Corgan’s Concepts for a High-Speed Rail Station
Before the nation’s first bullet train can leave the station, it will need an actual station from which to depart. The high-speed train from Dallas to Houston promises to revolutionize the way Texans get around—collapsing travel time down to 90 minutes for its more than 5 million expected annual riders. The proposed locations in Downtown Dallas, Brazos Valley, and Houston each present a unique set of challenges and opportunities to connect neighborhoods, activate the site as an asset and catalyst for economic growth, increase connectivity, and inspire a new urban approach for a sustainable development
This year, Corgan’s annual design competition studied the preferred location for the Houston station and worked with Councilmember David Robinson, FAIA, to understand the goals, challenges, and best outcomes for the site. With participants from several Corgan offices across a variety of studio specialties, teams collaborated closely with experts in urban planning and aviation to collaboratively and holistically propose the best solution for Houston and offer a model for the future of urban mobility.
The winning masterplan, Nexus, is designed to support the evolution of Houston and urban transit. Anchored by an iconic, adaptable transportation spine created from modular vertebrae, with a network of transit and pedestrian arteries, the plan connects riders and neighbors to a dynamic ecosystem of retail, living, and recreation spaces.
Located in the outskirts of Houston on a brownfield site, Corgan’s concept elevates the station above existing highways and rail lines as an opportunity to reconcile divides in the urban fabric, reinforce identity, and create an inviting destination for visitors and residents. A pedestrian bridge functions as the primary circulation path between the station and ‘Nexus Park’—reconciling the large scale of the station with the more human scale of the recreation and retail spaces. Seamlessly integrating intermodal transit including current bus routes, bike trails, and roadways as well as anticipated light rail and Uber options, Nexus prioritizes ease of connectivity to solve for the ‘last mile’ of the passenger journey.
From coffee shops and movie theaters to a concert venue and coworking spaces, the concept embeds the various uses and destinations within a large park that blurs the lines between the activity of the transit hub and surrounding working and residential spaces to engage the community and promote equality within these mobility and program types.
ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY VITALITY
‘Nexus Park’ is comprised of a series of vibrant daily connections for visitors, neighbors, shoppers, and retail employees—from a jumbo screen and water feature to venues for a hotel, museum, and corporate campus, the park is punctuated with intentional spaces for consistent activity as a catalyst for continued growth. An office campus overlooking the park and the south side’s innovation lab offers the opportunity to attract business and local startups—boasting ultimate connectivity and convenience to in-demand retail and recreational amenities. The high-density residential units on the west side create a transition from ‘Nexus Park’ to the adjacent neighborhood while encouraging a large population base to establish a sustainable and authentic local culture.
The proposed design responds to a mastery of understanding and maximizing connectivity with a transit hub that facilitates an efficient and convenient flow of people by removing the barriers of intermodal transportation while preserving the integrity of the station’s security, coordinating with and amplifying existing transit, and facilitating ease of navigation and circulation. A simple, intuitive design, intentional light paths, and thoughtful wayfinding empower visitors to explore without feeling lost. Prioritizing connectivity between the site and the surrounding community, existing roads converge with Nexus’ internal routing system while a pedestrian bridge, shaded walking trails, and contextual appropriate building types help bridge the gap between the new development and the existing neighborhood.