CTA To Build New Loop Station, Shutter Two Others


Drawing of the proposed CTA Washington/Wabash Station.  Courtesy of the City of Chicago.

Drawing of the proposed CTA Washington/Wabash Station. Courtesy of the City of Chicago.

As the Chicago Transit Authority continues trying to cram more and more trains into the Loop’s elevated rail loop, new bottlenecks are emerging.  At the same time, some of the CTA’s infrastructure is in a desperate state of repair.  So, what’s being proposed on Wabash Avenue will kill two pigeons with one stone.

The CTA is going to close its Randolph and Wabash station along with its Madison and Wabash station.  Those two stations will be replaced by a single new station at Washington and Wabash.  It will serve Brown, Green, Pink, Purple, and Orange line trains.

The new station was designed by Exp.  You may know it by its previous name, Teng and Associates.  It features dozens of curvy white fins, making the station seem something like the carcass of a whale washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan.

When someone moves to Chicago, they do sense a certain amount of absurdity about the number of L stations in close proximity to each other.  The CTA’s long-term goal is to have just two stations on each of the Loop’s four sides.  Moving toward that goal, it shuttered the Randolph and Wells station in 1995 when the Washington and Wells station opened.  The Randolph and Wells station still exists, and is used as a platform for electrical transformers and storage of other materials.

By cutting down on the number of stations in The Loop, CTA trains can make fewer stops, speeding journeys. It also means fewer stations for CTA employees to clean, staff, maintain, and secure, saving precious operational dollars.  In the world of transit financing, shiny new trains are often bought with grant or stimulus money from your federal tax dollars, but actually running those trains and their stations comes out of a different bucket of money.  This new station will be paid for entirely with your federal tax dollars.

This will be the first new CTA station since the one designed by Ross Barney Architects opened on the Green/Pink lines at North Morgan Street in 2012.  Though, railfans will be quick to point out that that was a replacement for the original Morgan station which opened in 1893 and closed in 1948.

The CTA is also moving forward with plans for a new Cermak station on the Green Line, also designed by Ross Barney Architects, intended to serve McCormick Place and the planned South Loop entertainment district anchored by the McPier Event Center, two new hotels and some kind of “Music Row” attraction.

The complete press release from the mayor’s office follows the photo gallery:


“Gateway to Millennium Park” Station will Consolidate Randoph-Wabash and Madison-Wabash Stations; Construction of $75 Million Station to Begin in 2014


Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation officials today released the final renderings for the planned Washington-Wabash Elevated CTA Station, which will be constructed between Madison and Washington and serve the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple lines. The Washington-Wabash Station is designed to become a gateway for Millennium Park and the Loop, as well as transform the public’s perception and expectation of public transportation in Chicago.


“This station features a modern design with undulating waves that serve as a welcome contrast to the city grid and will replace two century-old stations that were not designed for the needs of modern public transit,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “You cannot have a 21st century economy sitting on 20th century economic infrastructure and we continue to make investments throughout the entire CTA system to improve our infrastructure and brighten our economic future.”


The undulating wave form of the canopies weaves through the historic Wabash Avenue corridor as a counterpoint to the city grid, and anticipates the soft forms of the park and the lake beyond. The faceted skeletal steel and glass structure is designed to create a dynamic play of light reminiscent of diamond facets and the historic Jeweler’s Row.


Materials have been chosen to allow visibility, reinforce the feeling of openness and to allow a visual connection to the historical corridor. The vibrant new facility will enhance passenger convenience, improve train speeds, decrease operating costs and provide accessibility for all riders.


“The new Washington-Wabash station will serve as a convenient option for the tens of thousands of transit riders who travel to the Loop for work or visit the many destinations downtown, including Millennium Park,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “This is a crucial investment that will pay dividends for many years, as the new station will offer improved amenities and larger platforms for all riders.”


Construction of the $75 million station is expected to begin in the fall of 2014 and the station is scheduled to open in 2016. According to recent estimates from CTA, the Washington-
Wabash station is expected to have 13,375 daily entries (annual weekday average), making it the 5th busiest CTA station on weekdays. The annual total for the station will be 4.02 million rides.


The station will be funded entirely by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds.


“With the unveiling of this design, tens of thousands of Chicagoans who take the El downtown every day can look forward to less congestion and a cleaner, greener, state-of-the-art platform,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “Modernizing our nation’s mass transit systems is crucial for future growth, which is why I have worked to establish new federal investment opportunities specifically for projects like the Chicago Transit Authority’s efforts to upgrade and renovate. I am glad that the CTA has recognized the value of these projects and is working to make these crucial improvements throughout its system as resources allow.”


“Modernizing our transit infrastructure is a key component of maintaining Chicago’s status as an economic engine and tourism hub,” said Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill). ” I support the efforts of Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Claypool to ensure our stations continue to meet future demand.”


Congressman Danny K. Davis (IL-07) stated, “I am excited for the unveiling of the new design plans for the Washington-Wabash station. The new design will add a modern component for the El. I applaud Mayor Emmanuel and President Claypool and look forward to completion.”


The Chicago Department of Transporation is managing the design and construction of the station, which is the first to be built in the loop was the Library/State-Van Buren station in June, 1997.


The station was designed by Teng + Associates, now known as exp, an integrated architecture and engineering firm recognized for design excellence in architecture and engineering for an array of projects in both the public and private realm.


The fare controls, stairs, escalators, elevators, electrical, security and communications rooms will be on the mezzanine level. The station will be entirely new and will meet ADA standards with new elevators from the street to mezzanine and platform levels. The platform capacity will be enlarged from the existing 7’-6” width to 10’ to 13’ widths.

The station will feature a wide array of green and sustainable elements, including:


  • 100 percent LED lighting.
  • The project will reuse a significant amount of existing structure and tracks.
  • Bicycle racks will be installed to encourage alternative transportation.
  • Recycling bins will be installed on the platforms to encourage paper recycling.
  • Concrete Masonry Units used in wall assemblies will be from regional sources.
  • Structural steel will be comprised of recycled material, and metal fabrications used for cladding, wall infill panels, windbreaks, handrails and other items will be comprised of recycled content.
  • Rough carpentry required for blocking will be comprised of Certified wood.
  • Sealants and adhesives, exterior paint for the structural steel and interior paint for CTA offices will have a low-VOC content to improve air quality
  • HVAC systems used for the Customer Assistant and Concessions kiosks will use CFC-free refrigerant.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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