Six visions for Union Station in the year 2050

A public forum today at Union Station provided the public with their first look at conceptual visions for Union Station and the surrounding area by six architectural firms bidding to prepare a master plan for the facility.

Metro Executive Planning Director Martha Welborne told the several hundred people in attendance that the point of the vision boards was to energize the teams submitting bids to prepare the master plan, as well as energize the public that uses — or will someday use Union Station.

“These are acts of imagination, they are visions of a potential future,” Welborne said, emphasizing that the teams will be evaluated based on their technical proposals to prepare the Union Station master plan.

Listing the new Metro projects about to open or soon begin construction, Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa said that the transit projects are opportunities to transform how the region looks and functions.

“And with high-speed rail coming down the pipeline, Union Station will truly be a hub not just for the region, but for the state,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. “This is about preparing for the future.”

Los Angeles Councilman and Metro Board Member Jose Huizar made a similar point: “This is a place” — Union Station — “that will have a lot more eyes on it,” he said.

Some quick background: Metro purchased the historic rail terminal and 40 acres of land in April 2011. In anticipation of the purchase, the Metro Board of Directors in March 2011 directed a master planning process be undertaken for the Union Station property.

Twenty-two firms initially responded to Metro and in December the Board of Directors approved a short-list of six firms. As part of the bidding process, each firm was required to submit a 30-inch by 40-inch Vision Board showing a high-concept vision for Union Station in the year 2050.

Here are the boards in alphabetical order by the name of the firm — click on the image to see a larger version:

EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company, in association with UNStudio

IBI Group/Foster+Partners


Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners/Ten Arquitectos/West 8

NBBJ/Ingenhoven Architects

Renzo Piano Building Workshop/Parsons Transportation Group Inc.

Metro officials said that the Vision Boards are not part of the formal evaluation process of the six firms. Rather, they’re a means to begin the public engagement process and ignite inspiration about Union Station as a multi-modal regional transportation hub.

Metro staff will make their recommendation to the Metro Board on June 28. Upon approval by the Board, the Master Planning process could be completed in 24 months.


24 replies

  1. I visited L.A. Union Station for the first time on April 12th, 2012, came in on Amtraks’ Southwest Chief. I hope that the plans that these visionary people have is one that preserves Union Station as it is. I cannot tell from the pictures where Union Station is or what it looks like. The exterior and interior of the original station are history and are quite elegant. It would be a shame to lose this.

  2. I am pleasantly surprised that visionary architects and designers are a part of this process. Most train / transit stations are not designed by people concerned with the ultimate cultural and historical value of these spaces and merely left to function, cost and code. LA has vision, newness and a yet to be determined history in its DNA and the process, hopefully, will continue to celebrate this positive potential future.

  3. Too many train stations are getting these modern make-overs. When I travel by train I want to see what looks like a train station, not a park. Los Angeles is home to historic bridges, buildings and neighborhoods. Leave well enough alone.

  4. I can’t help but notice a BLIMP in one of the drawings…


    There are only a handful of blimps in the entire USA, no blimp ports, and it’s a very slow mode of transportation…blimps are for folks that are NOT in a hurry…


  5. I’m all for forward vision IF the existing Union Station is ADDED to, not torn down….the beautiful glazed tiles are priceless, and the vaulted ceiling simply is archetectural history…I also don’t want a negative impact on Olvera St vendors and restaurants

  6. Hmmm. I have to agree with a lot of the other posters here. I see a lot of “ivory tower” architecture here.

    I don’t see Union Station. It’s not the size of the illustration that’s the problem. I just don’t see Los Angeles in there. I’m no NIMBY reactionary, but a lot of these designs don’t say “Los Angeles” or “Union Station” to me.

    They are being very creative and all that, but how much of this is going to be able to be built?

  7. While I understand that this is initially a “vision” proposal, the schemes show a complete lack of understanding with regards to the city, surrounding context, transportation, and implementation. A visioning process should not throw these out the window…

    I feel insulted that these design firms feel that they can get away without addressing these things by producing superficial imagery. For those participating firms with offices in LA, they should be ashamed. I hope the presentations to Metro showed a better understanding to our great city.

  8. Do any architects and construction firms in the US, let alone in Los Angeles, have any experience constructing rail stations? Seeing how most of our light rail stations are built, my confidence is low.

  9. I particularly like EE&K and NBBJ/Ingenhoven’s ideas from what I can see. I particularly like the pedestrian entry plaza on NBBJ/Ingenhoven’s board (something I wrote about here: ), but it does seem like they’ve completely changed the plaza at el Pueblo, which is certainly historic as well and should be preserved and improved rather than drastically changed.

  10. I like the idea of Union Station as the “center of a new garden city.” I’m all for that.

  11. Just wanted to concur with the original poster. This entire blog post is worthless with these low-resolution images. Your blog software should allow you to post full res pics.

  12. the reason it takes so long is because this nation, state, local, is too busy being politically correct to move forward and succeed on anything. when you have a nation of unemployed to the tune we have today, it will take a lifetime or more to accomplish anything.

  13. Thirty eight years from now, I’d be in my late fifties!

    Why does it take so long to do anything in America anymore? Wasn’t this the country that built the transcontinental railroad in five years and landed men on the moon in less than a decade? Yet we can’t fix local public transit for almost four decades?

  14. Will the boards be available for in-person viewing for folks who work a traditional 9-to-5 schedule? A midday viewing doesn’t really invite broad public input. Just sayin’.

  15. It’ll be sure fun waiting for a diesel train down under all that glass and grass!

  16. Any chance we can get some higher resolution images? Some of those have text on them that is unreadable at the current resolution (even after clicking on them to see full-size images).

    • Hi Steve;

      That’s the highest resolution I have at this time that would fit in a single blog post. The images may available soon on the Master Plan part of

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source