Steel Shots: A New Way to Ride

Denver Union Station

The new Denver Union Station Bus Concourse opens on Sunday, marking a critical milestone for the city’s precedent-setting intermodal hub. Its SOM-designed Train Hall canopy (shown above), an efficient and formally expressive means of sheltering multiple railway tracks, comprises 11 steel arch trusses spanning nearly 180 ft, clad in bright white tensioned fabric. LPR Construction Co. (an AISC member) was the steel erector for the project. Photo: Robert Polidori

Today, the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) will mark the opening of the Union Station Bus Concourse with a grand ribbon-cutting celebration that will include remarks from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, numerous state and local officials, RTD General Manager Phil Washington and other dignitaries. The bus concourse is a vital component of the new Denver Union Station Intermodal Hub, the centerpiece of RTD’s FasTracks transit expansion program. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) designed the intercity bus terminal and the broader Denver Union Station complex; the firm also developed the master plan for the surrounding transit-oriented neighborhood. Service at the Union Station Bus Concourse will begin on Sunday.  
Denver’s historic Union Station is a Beaux Arts gem located on the edge of downtown. SOM was commissioned to expand and transform this station into a major regional transportation hub. To do so, the firm converted 20 acres of former rail yards into an urban transit district that orchestrates light rail, commuter and intercity rail, bicycle and bus routes, and pedestrian pathways into an intuitive intermodal hub. The Union Station Bus Concourse is situated at the heart of this vibrant network, directly beneath the rail station.
“This project represents a major investment in transit-oriented development with extraordinarily far-reaching social and economic consequences,” said Roger Duffy, design partner. “The bus concourse is the result of nearly a decade of thoughtful public consultation and bold design. Its completion helps realize this community’s aspirations for a truly transformational neighborhood and landmark public project.”
Measuring 980 ft in length, the 22-gate underground bus concourse services 16 regional, express and local bus routes. The terminal serves a dual purpose as a subterranean pedestrian concourse that connects the constellation of transportation programs distributed across the site. Vivid colors and natural lighting help passengers orient themselves, whether they are boarding buses, navigating to the light rail or commuter rail stations or ascending into the capital city. 
The Train Hall canopy comprises 11 steel arch trusses spanning nearly 180 ft, clad in bright white tensioned fabric. In profile, the canopy rises 70 ft at either end and descends in a dynamic sweep to 22 ft at the center, a gesture that allows the structure to protect the passenger platforms below, while remaining clear of the view corridor established to protect views of the historic station. In addition to Amtrak service, four commuter rail lines are scheduled to open in 2016 and 2018.