High-Speed Victory

High-Speed Victory

HOK’s Los Angeles office, with Parsons Brinckerhoff, has defeated some of the world’s top architectural talent to win the commission for a major new transit center in downtown Anaheim that’s envisioned as a hub for California’s future high-speed rail network, as well as for Amtrak, commuter rail, and other regional transit lines.

Other teams shortlisted for the project, known as ARTIC (Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center), had included RMJM with Gehry Partners and AECOM; Santiago Calatrava with Jacobs; Pelli Clarke Pelli with AAI; SOM with Parsons; and Foster + Partners with Gruen Associates. Firms who originally applied for the RFQ in February included Arup, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and Morphosis.

The $180 million, 16-acre project, commissioned by the city of Anaheim and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), will include a 66,000-square-foot station and the masterplan for a mixed-used area around it, set to not only consolidate and dramatically improve the region’s public transportation offerings, but to help spur development in Anaheim itself.


In its first phase, the project will be designed to host Amtrak and Metrolink commuter lines, local and regional bus lines, airport shuttles, taxis, and tour buses. In later phases the center will be equipped to host California high-speed rail from the north and south, and possibly another line from Las Vegas, as well as connections from Disnleyland’s Monorail system. Anaheim Director of Public Works Natalie Meeks said that if anticipated federal high-speed rail funding comes through next fall, she expects that HOK would be the architect for the high-speed rail portion of the station as well.

The complex is set to complete its EIR process in 2010, begin construction in 2011, and open in 2013.

ARTIC will be located in the middle of what is known as Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle, a developing cluster of civic, entertainment, retail, and residential zones near the 57 Freeway that includes Angel Stadium, the Honda Center, and the Grove of Anaheim.

The new station’s vaulted design, said Ernest Cirangle, HOK Design Director, was inspired in part by grand, open rail stations like Grand Central in New York, and from the monumental—and breathtaking— hangars in nearby Tustin, designed to house Navy blimps during World War II. The column-free station will be supported with long span triangulated steel members inset with a pillow-like ETFE membrane. A lofty, wide open hall—with a ceiling measuring over 150 feet—will be surrounded by shops and ticket booths, and bordered on its southern end by train platforms and tracks.

“We wanted to celebrate the new interest our country has in improving its rail transportation,” said Cirangle. “So we wanted the building to be noticeable from a long distance,” not to mention from inside, where visitors’ eyes will be drawn up to the ceiling.   

The project is aiming for a LEED Platinum rating, with green elements integrated into the structure itself. For instance, as planned, the ETFE surface will expand and compress to control natural light, and it will also be fitted with photovoltaics and solar hot-water heating cells.

The remainder of the site around the station will be masterplanned for office, retail, and high-density housing. That portion of the project does not yet have a completion date, and will depend on market recovery, said Meeks. In its proposal HOK outlined plans for what Cirangle called a “pedestrian oriented, vibrant place” set around a large public plaza, a sweeping promenade, and a riverfront park.

California’s state-run, high-speed rail project—which when completed should run from Sacramento down to San Diego (but first from San Francisco to Anaheim)—is still in its infancy, but Anaheim is eager to begin, despite the fact that federal funding is still pending. Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who has been working to get a transit hub in the area since taking office six years ago, said that Orange County has already done more preliminary engineering on its segment of the project than any other location in the state.

California voters passed almost $10 billion in funding for high-speed rail last November, but that is contingent on matching federal stimulus funds that will be doled out this fall. Architects in California will be watching eagerly as commissions for more transit centers become available. But even if high-speed rail doesn’t happen, the ARTIC is already set to transform the region, said Pringle.

Funding for ARTIC is coming from $82 million in county Renewed Measure M funds (a half-cent sales tax extension passed in 2007), $58.8 million from Proposition 116 (a state bond), and about $29 million from the State Transportation Improvement Program.

Meeks noted that public support for the project is high, despite present economic conditions.

“It’s a fully funded project with money that’s restricted to transit uses,” she said.

“We’re getting the critical infrastructure in place where you can actually envison a day in the future where you can reliably get around without a car," added Todd Osborne, vice-president at HOK. "I don’t think we’re talking about replacing the automobile, but maybe it’s not every trip.”