Bus, light rail, and streetcar lines crisscross Portland’s streets. But only so much. Until now, thanks to a complicated plan by transit agency TriMet to add another light rail line, extend current lines, and revitalize an aging downtown transit mall. Scheduled to open in September, the South Terminus, a new station designed by Hennebery Eddy Architects, will span the length of a city block and anchor the whole project near its end point at Portland State University.
Inspired by "solar wind diagrams and particle movements in physics," explained principal Tim Eddy, the architects created a crescent-shaped sculpture that soars 40 feet high to obscure the station’s power traction substation and signal communications building. Pedestrians will see only shadowy forms through the cladding of semi-transparent photovoltaic panels draped over the steel framed structure. Together with 22 pole-mounted vertical axis wind turbines, the panels will produce almost all of the onsite power needs. Passers-by can monitor generated energy through a series of LED lights and markings within the reclaimed granite bench wall along its south end. A series of swales will handle on-site storm water collection and double as irrigation for the various native flora such as Oregon Iris, Wild Strawberries, and Oregon Ash trees that will be part of the landscaping.
"We wanted to create a sculptural object that breaks free from conventional form," said Eddy. Indeed, the project promises to be as much a sustainable art piece as a practical transit structure.