The recent introduction of public rail transportation poses many unknowns in Houston, a large and sprawling city with suddenly changing weather, where people are largely dependent on cars. Establishing rail connections between the busier urban areas and cultural destinations is important in reducing car traffic in the city center, which is normally congested and without sufficient parking space. The addition of new rail lines will also bring a vibrancy to the downtown areas of the city. For the Central Station competition, Snøhetta’s award-winning design turns the city’s climate issues into opportunities: the cantilevered canopy not only protects from sudden downpours, but also collects rain water through columns and directs it into the storm drain system. Water flows through pre-cast concrete stalactites and funnel columns into the platform level grate. The canopy becomes an art installation, both for passengers waiting for the tramway and for those working and living in the buildings nearby, who can watch the water move simply by looking down from their windows. The whole project is rounded off with a detailed study of light conditions to further emphasize the scenographic character of the station.
METRO (Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, Texas)
Architect & Landscape: Snøhetta