Transit stations as an element of civic architecture/commerce as an engine of urbanism
I have many pieces on this topic as it relates to subway and light rail transit--separate from railroad stations, which have a great history and place in civic architecture--including "Transit, stations, and placemaking" and "Design as a city branding strategy: transit edition."
In retrospect, it's somewhat embarrassing that the first piece is so US-centric, because of how artistic-aesthetic qualities are so essential to transit systems such as in Paris, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
Those systems have multiple examples of stations as "high art" at least for transit, and how attractiveness is an important element within many other subway systems, such as the use of tile and distinctive station design treatments in Hamburg. Asia has many outstanding examples as well.
The CNN story "World's best Metro stations" shows a fabulous station in Taiwan.
Somehow I missed this even though the New York Times reported on it ("Subterranean Naples, Brimming With Art"), but on a GGW entry, commenter James called attention to the "art stations of Naples." From the article:
Still a work in progress, the “art subway” has commissioned work from about 100 artists so far — most of them Italians, with a good dose of local talent — and an international roster that includes William Kentridge, Katharina Sieverding and Sol LeWitt, to name a few.
“Artists come and present their vision of Naples to help Neapolitans see their city differently,” said Antonella Di Nocera, the city counselor responsible for culture. “In this city, people take history for granted, but we want to teach young people that they are part of a stratified city.”
The subway “draws on the strength of what Naples has to offer,” she said.
Working in various media, the artists have collaborated closely with prominent architects to transform utilitarian places of transit into captivating sites.
“This wasn’t about decorating the architecture, it’s about enhancing the space with the works of artists called on to dialogue with the space,” Mr. Bonito Oliva said. The stations, he added, are “monuments to innovation.”
Snails by "Cracking Art Group" at the Garibaldi station of underground of Naples - Architect Dominique Perrault. Flickr photo by Karl.
In the Naples program, art and aesthetic elements have been deliberately incorporated as a primary element of the subway system as it has been constructed. While on the surface Naples is known for grit, occasional sanitation strikes and the like, so far the "art stations" haven't been damaged by graffiti or other mistreatment--note that the transit system has a small staff dedicated to maintaining these stations specifically.
At the end of the entry, I've appended two video news stories showing the stations. The first one is in English, the second in Italian with subtitles.
2. At the Columbus Circle station in New York City, the Turnstyle food and shopping hall has been incorporated on the perimeter of one of the walkway exits, adding a retail element ("Noshing at the Columbus Circle Subway Station," New York times, and providing opportunities for independently-owned businesses to operate in an area with otherwise extraordinarily high rents. It's also another example of the recent explosion of "food halls" as a retail type.
Photo by Evan Sung.
The quote about "commerce as an engine of urbanism" comes from Professor Alex Wall. the businesses enliven the corridor, provide better services for transit riders, and support entrepreneurial activity, while generating additional revenue for the transit system.
An almost 50 year old Regional Plan Association study, Urban Design Manhattan, on the pedestrian mobility system in Manhattan suggesting in part the direct incorporation of subterranean space and mezzanine space in buildings into the pedestrian network. This is an example of how to do it.