The Cermak-McCormick Place station serves thecountry’s largest convention center and a stretch of theChicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line that hasbeen without service since 1978. The design, a lightfilledand weather-protecting tube covering the platform,provides an attractive and joyful experience for ridersand those passing by. It is the result of creatively workingwithin constraints: constricted site, short constructionschedule, modest budget, and no suspension of service.
Track realignment was not an option, as a result, theexisting conditions would only allow a center platform,approximately 15 feet wide, to serve a community withanticipated population growth and transit use. With anarrow platform, the location of a-typical structure for acanopy in addition to station amenities (benches, signage/wayfinding, trash bins, ect.) would have resulted in acluttered, tight, and hard to navigate space. The designsolution was the development of a tube over CermakRoad, where the CTA right-of-way is both widest andmost visible to the public. Locating train berthing overCermak Road allows views to Chinatown, McCormickPlace, and Chicago’s skyline/ Loop.
The perforatedstainless steel and polycarbonate tube performs multipleduties: it provides wind and rain protection and a barrierfreeplatform, it places materials out of easy reach ofvandals, and it creates a station easy to identify from adistance. The polycarbonate and perforated stainless steel provideslight, directs views, and subtly reminds passengers ofthe direction of travel. Four perforation patterns are used,none of them with more than a 23% open area. Counterintuitively,perforated materials deflect air if the percentageof “open area” is low. The open area percentages used atthe station is effective for usual wind speeds in Chicago.
In general, perforation sizes and densities are arranged tomaximize views over Cermak Road and to protect fromprevailing winter winds. The location of the station, with its sweeping views ofthe skyline, along with its form that provides a sense ofenclosure for the elevated tracks, creates both a literal andmetaphorical gateway for the large population of Chicagonewcomers. Emblematic of a contemporary vision forurban connectivity, the station asserts itself as part of alarger context within the City of Chicago.