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Tremend
The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.

Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.

To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs. Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.

“Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog, water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.”


Edmund Sumner
Why Aaron Betsky loves the new Hong Kong West Kowloon Station by Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

Sometimes a good building that I nevertheless probably shouldn’t like for all kinds of reasons just bowls me over. That’s the case with the new Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, designed by Andrew Bromberg, FAIA, a global design principal at Aedas. It is not modest; it is not critical architecture. It swoops, it soars, it arches, rises, and spreads. Rarely in recent years have I seen a project with more expressive power than this multi-billion-dollar terminus to a line that is—for better or worse—tying Hong Kong closer to the Chinese mainland. It evokes the excitement of travel and the anticipation that comes with arriving or leaving a city.

For several years I have watched the station's design and construction, which has been hampered by delays, by ever increasing security concerns, by mediocre construction, and by worse station management. So it was a pleasure to finally see the building completed when I was in Hong Kong this spring. Visiting it on a rainy day I missed the full effect of the skylights and clerestories in the station’s main hall, and I was left to scamper around the wet pavement outside, but it was still a delight. Towards the north, the building’s arches flip up above a jagged glass façade, which opens up to a view of Hong Kong Island—a feature that has already drawn comparisons to a dragon. Even in the rain, the building seemed to be continually in motion.

The building is essentially a low-lying arch. A series of giant, stretched trusses, bundled together for strength and braced by branching columns that slot in between the tracks and the spread out, give lateral support to the main roof. But Bromberg also conceived of a simple yet clever twist. Rather than having the arches run at right angles over the main station area to the end of the tracks, the tradition in train termini ever since Euston Station in 1837, he ran them in the same directions as the trains. The result is a visual representation of this superfast mode of transport. It also leaves large openings to the east and the west, the directions in which most people entering or leaving the station will pass.

The various levels of the station undulate both up and down and forward and back to accommodate the different modes of arrival and departure (car, taxi, or bus drop off, and the subway and pedestrian paths to the nearby mega-developments). The terminal serves about 1.5 million travelers a month, who can now travel to Shanghai in a few hours and to Beijing in a day.

As an added bonus, the layers of arches also create an elevated park on top of the station; you can walk up and, more than 80 feet above the ground, enjoy a panoramic view across the harbor of Hong Kong Island. Already, the park has become a site for joggers and selfie takers; the hope is that further development in the area, including the Herzog & de Meuron-designed M+ Museum, will make the public space even more vibrant.

On the inside, Bromberg had originally designed the hall to start at the tracks themselves, so travelers could glimpse the bottom of the arches as soon as they arrived. The cost of a transparent fire barrier made that impossible, creating the same problem that plagues many airports and other transportation nodes: passengers get the best view when leaving or before going through security. After clearing customs, you can still see the some of the spectacle above while waiting for your train, but you have to remember to look up. Travelers who head directly into the subway, meanwhile, will never even enter the hall.

Soon, the station will be surrounded by apartment and office towers that will help pay for the cost of its construction. I believe that Bromberg had hoped to design these as well, but they will be put out for tender separately, so there's not much chance that he can create a large version of the fully integrated transportation hub that Ben van Berkel designed for the station in Arnhem, the Netherlands.

There is a more serious question about the West Kowloon Station that does give me pause. It successfully represents the achievements of a state that is using this very infrastructure to further suppress Hong Kong’s freedom and quasi-independence. Much in the way of Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA’s convoluted design for the Chinese state’s central propaganda machine, CCTV, in Beijing, one has to ask if the project helps perpetuate social and economic injustices.

I’d
Nadine M. Post for ENR
The repair of two fractured girders spanning Fremont Street and the reinforcement of twin girders spanning First Street are complete at the beleaguered Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco.

To date, an independent panel of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has found no other issues affecting the transit center, according to the public owner, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority. TJPA will announce a reopening date after the panel concludes its review.

TJPA shuttered the facility in late September, some six weeks after it had opened to bus traffic. This was shortly after a ceiling panel installer had inadvertently discovered the most serious of the two brittle fractures in the bottom flange of one of the twin built-up plate girders spanning Fremont Street.

Shoring Removed

To date, crews have removed all shoring from both sets of third-floor girders that span 87 ft and support both a public rooftop park above and hang the second floor bus level. All traffic lanes are now open during the day. Night street closures will continue throughout May to restore lights, MUNI overhead lines and to reinstall ceiling panels.

Recommissioning of the 4.5-block-long facility will continue through the end of this month. The quality assurance process includes retesting and re-inspecting fire and life safety systems throughout the facility and retesting the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, reports TJPA.

Since the closure, transit agencies have been providing bus service out of a temporary terminal at Howard and Main streets. The mostly outdoor facility served as the depot during construction of the new facility.
Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle
Four levels of inspections and plans failed to prevent or uncover a construction flaw that resulted in the cracked girders that forced the closure of the Transbay Transit Center 5½ months ago, the agency’s executive director said Thursday.

Mark Zabaneh, head of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, said three teams of quality-control inspectors working for contractors didn’t discover that a necessary grinding process, used to eliminate small cracks associated with holes that were cut into the girders, was not performed and that the authority’s own spot inspections also missed the oversight.

Those micro-cracks developed into larger cracks and, finally, a large fissure that ripped through two large steel girders that support the building. Similar girders over First Street have not cracked.

“The execution was not done properly, and that is something we are looking into,” Zabaneh said Thursday after an authority meeting. “It’s an area of great concern for us.”

The failure of the quality-control and quality-assurance processes to detect the fracture-inducing error prompted the authority to order engineers and architects to pore over tens of thousands of drawings and inspection documents to make sure no other major potential flaws were overlooked.

A pair of outside engineers told the Transbay authority’s board Thursday that the two girders that support the three-block-long transit hub where it crosses Fremont Street fractured because of an unusual confluence of factors, including the relative strength of the steel, the design of the structure and the fabrication process.

Robert Vecchio, of LPI, a New York laboratory that analyzed metal samples from the failed girders, pointed toward the cutting of holes, known as welding access holes, in the beams as the source of the problem. The holes over Fremont Street were cut in the beams before they were welded. The welding caused tiny cracks to grow and then fracture. Holes in the girders over First Street were welded before cutting and did not crack.

Grinding the edges of the holes smooth before welding can eliminate the micro-cracking, Vechhio said, and would have prevented the Fremont Street girders from fracturing, he said.