A sense of arrival

11 Sep 2012

New gateway for Pittsburgh's light rail extension

Gateway Station is the centerpiece of Pittsburgh's 1.2-mile light rail extension. Initially conceived by the Port Authority of Allegheny County as a traditional underground station, The Light / Motion Collaborative (a joint venture of Pfaffmann + Associates and Edge studio) responded with a transparent urban room from which to experience the city.

The project was driven by a passion to create an intuitive, vibrant sense of arrival reflecting downtown Pittsburgh's unique history and urban character and from the ability to model a complex geometry of existing track alignments, shallow excavation clearances, and adjacent office towers and utilities. Engineering services were provided by AECOM (station box), Atlantic Engineering Services (headhouse), and Allen & Shariff Corporation (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing).

Key to the project was redesign of an adjacent, underutilised traffic island into a public plaza with a sloped grade (Pressley Associates, landscape architects). This not only extended the greenway of nearby Point State Park into the city, but allowed glass to extend below street level introducing natural light deep into the station.

The extensive use of glass (Eckersley O'Callaghan, glazing consultants) provides clear visual cues for navigating the station. The city skyline greets arriving passengers; pedestrians can observe the coming and going of trains from the street. Positioned at a critical intersection in the city's urban fabric, Gateway Station is an exclamation point-a highly visible marquee that celebrates the technological advances of the city's glass and steel heritage while providing a distinctive presence that brings transit into the public realm.

By its nature as an intermodal transit station, Gateway Station promotes sustainability-providing transportation options, reducing traffic congestion and encouraging parking outside the crowded downtown core. In addition to the transformative green design decision to daylight the station, the public plaza is a green roof built atop the tunnels of the old station, which were repurposed to house train systems. This reduced the need for new infrastructure and allows a majority of storm water to be collected on site.

In the design of Gateway Station, The Light / Motion Collaborative promoted a higher quality of design and service to maximise ridership, reduce the impact of automobiles and create a vibrant public place. John Conti, architecture critic of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, exclaims: "Rarely has a hole in the ground been elaborated so well!"  

Key Facts

United States

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team