The Cermak-McCormick Place station serves the country’s largest convention center and a stretch of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line that has been without service since 1978. The design, a lightfilled and weather-protecting tube covering the platform, provides an attractive and joyful experience for riders and those passing by. It is the result of creatively working within constraints: constricted site, short construction schedule, modest budget, and no suspension of service.
Track realignment was not an option, as a result, the existing conditions would only allow a center platform, approximately 15 feet wide, to serve a community with anticipated population growth and transit use. With a narrow platform, the location of a-typical structure for a canopy in addition to station amenities (benches, signage/wayfinding, trash bins, ect.) would have resulted in a cluttered, tight, and hard to navigate space. The design solution was the development of a tube over Cermak Road, where the CTA right-of-way is both widest and most visible to the public. Locating train berthing over Cermak Road allows views to Chinatown, McCormick Place, and Chicago’s skyline/ Loop.
The perforated stainless steel and polycarbonate tube performs multiple duties: it provides wind and rain protection and a barrier free platform, it places materials out of easy reach of vandals, and it creates a station easy to identify from a distance. The polycarbonate and perforated stainless steel provides light, directs views, and subtly reminds passengers of the direction of travel. Four perforation patterns are used, none of them with more than a 23% open area. Counterintuitively, perforated materials deflect air if the percentage of “open area” is low. The open area percentages used at the station is effective for usual wind speeds in Chicago. Perforation sizes and densities are arranged to maximize views over Cermak Road and to protect from prevailing winter winds.
The location of the station, with its sweeping views of the skyline, along with its form that provides a sense of enclosure for the elevated tracks, creates both a literal and metaphorical gateway for the large population of Chicago newcomers. Emblematic of a contemporary vision for urban connectivity, the station asserts itself as part of a larger context within the City of Chicago.
Credits: - Ross Barney Architects - Design Architect