Not butt ugly costs a little more: DC streetcar barn edition (transit infrastructure as civic architecture)
WAMU Radio reports, in "Historic Designation More Than Doubles Cost Of D.C. Streetcar Car Barn," that the streetcar barn for the "soon" to open streetcar on H Street NE in DC will cost double the original value-engineered proposal--from $10.7 million to $25.3 million.. There isn't much reportage on issues concerning the architectural quality of the built environment.
Rendering, New Benning Road Streetcar Barn, Washington, DC.
Transit infrastructure as civic architecture
Although it is focused on transit stations as focal points that are intersections between transit systems and infrastructure and neighborhoods, the recent blog entry, "Transit, stations, and placemaking" discusses transit infrastructure as a fundamental element of of civic architecture and the built environment.
While it's clear that a transit agency's primary function is to move people--it's a conveyance--at the same time we must acknowledge the civic role in this function and ensure that we leverage transit stations and stops and other infrastructure, like streetcar barns, not just as connection points where riders enter and exit transit vehicles, but as civic places too, even if that element of transit infrastructure often has been ignored.
I don't think the new streetcar building will be particularly great, but it is marginally better than what was originally intended.
Benning Road Streetcar Barn, torn down in the 1970s. HABS photo.
Interestingly, civic buildings as a positive contribution to the public realm and the built environment was never a question when the city's streetcar barns were built in the late 19th and early 20th century (although then the buildings were constructed and owned by the transit system, which was then privately owned).
(Also see writings about the "City Beautiful" movement, and the role of civic architecture in defining the relationship between citizens and government.)
At that time, the expectation was that buildings such as these would be quality contributions to the built environment, regardless of their industrial nature.
That's obvious by looking at 5 streetcar barns still extant in the city.
In any event, an increase in cost of $15 million, amortized over the 40 to 80 year life of the building, is minimal.
Georgetown Car Barn on M Street NW.
Part of Georgetown Park Mall was once a trolley barn (when the system was run on cables).
Car Barn Condominiums, East Capitol NE. Wikipedia photo.
The "Blue Castle" at 8th and M Streets SE. DC MUD photo.
Decatur Street Bus Garage (on Upper 14th Street NW), constructed in 1906. Wikipedia photo.