Passenger upgrade

Kansas City Amtrak riders get a new amenity
August 11, 2010

When Kansas City's classic Union Station opened in 1914, it was the second largest in the U.S., exceeded in size only by New York's Grand Central Terminal. But as riders abandoned trains in favor of other transportation modes, passenger amenities went into a downward spiral.

Even before the station closed in 1983, passenger services were downsized and moved inside a large inflatable structure within the terminal, with the aim of reducing heating and air-conditioning costs. Train riders were exposed to further indignity when passenger operations were relocated to a nondescript small structure, called "Amshack," on the station property.

Train riders have now regained a measure of their lost amenities with a more permanent building located on terminal property. The jury cited the project for special mention.

The Amtrak Arcade project brought together architect BNIM Architects, structural engineer TransSystems, and the Special Projects Division of Turner Construction Co. In nine months, and at a construction cost of $3.3 million, the team executed a highly organized plan. "I've never worked on a project that had more of a team effort," says Devan Case, project architect with BNIM. Paul Neidlein, senior project manager with Turner, said the team had to coordinate the scheduling of work so it would not interfere with railroad operations.

The new 5,000-sq.-ft. facility utilizes the historic terminal's entranceways to track-level platforms. A new enclosed walkway attached to the side of the terminal takes passengers to and from the track level.

The primary impetus for the new station was the terminal's conversion to Science City, a "recreational learning" museum that enables visitors to explore scientific subjects, with a local emphasis (See BD&C, October 2000).

The Building Team even had to overcome a 30% cut in the original budget that resulted in a revision in the types and amounts of materials specified, including the use of perforated panels.