After considering a half-dozen teams of architects and engineers led by some of the biggest names in the profession -- Renzo Piano and Norman Foster among them -- the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is poised to hire a group led by L.A.'s Gruen Associates and London's Grimshaw Architects to produce a new master plan for Union Station.
Metro purchased the 1939 landmark and about 40 acres surrounding it last year. In April, the agency, looking ahead to the day when the station might welcome high-speed trains from San Francisco, asked the six competing teams to produce "vision boards" imagining the site in 2050.
As I wrote then, the vision boards were only distantly connected to Metro's decision-making process (or to what will actually be built), and the choice of Gruen and Grimshaw, which awaits approval from Metro's board, seems to underscore that. Their 2050 scheme was among the most fanciful of the bunch; they've been selected for the job of expanding the station and planning adjacent new shops, apartments and offices, however, based on their deep experience in this kind of transit planning.
Gruen worked with Metro on the recently opened first phase of the Expo Line, and Grimshaw has designed a number of high-profile rail and transit projects in Europe, along with the forthcoming Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan.
The master plan is expected to take roughly two years to complete.