An artist's conception of the Washington/Wabash platform shows what the station is envisioned to look like at platform level looking south. The undulating skeletal steel and glass canopy is a signature part of the station's design. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
Washington Street and Wabash Avenue, Loop
Established: to be determined
Original Line: n/a
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Washington/Wabash is a proposed station, planned to be built on the Wabash leg of the Loop Elevated in Downtown Chicago. The station would replace and consolidate the Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations into one facility, located between the two stations.
The planned construction of a new Washington/Wabash station mirrors work completed on the Wells side of the Loop in the mid-1990s. There, stations at Randolph and Madison were also demolished and replaced with an intermediate stop at Washington. This reduced the number of stations on the west leg of the Loop from three to two, the same number as on the north (Lake) and south (Van Buren) legs of the Loop Elevated (the latter achieving two stops after the opening of Library station in 1997). Replacing the Randolph and Madison stations on the Wabash side will put two stations uniformly on all four sides of the Loop.
Accessibility at the new Washington/Wabash station will be provided by both elevators and escalators. There will also be stairways to both side platforms. The new facility will be large enough to accommodate customer traffic from both Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash.
The new Washington/Wabash station, like its Wells Street cousin, will be not over Washington itself but between Washington and Madison, with the south portion of the station probably continuing over Madison Street. This is not only for station spacing purposes but also for the staging of the construction, in which the first phase will require closing and demolishing the Madison/Wabash station to allow construction of the new facility to begin. The Randolph/Wabash station is to remain open until the new station is completed.
Plans for Consolidation
The Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations have been targets for demolition and consolidation for several decades. As early as November 1981, CTA planned to demolish them and construct a new facility at Washington/Wabash. In January 1983, the "Loop Station Renovation Project (Wabash)" included retrofitting the Adams/Wabash station (with construction proposed for the latter part of 1983) and the construction of the Washington/Wabash station in 1985, with Randolph proposed to be demolished in June of that year. This general plan has been regularlyMore recently, a plan proposed by the CTA in 1998 had the new station placed between Randolph and Washington. In this version, projected to cost $29 million, the new station was to have entrances on Randolph, Wabash and Washington. On September 11, 1998, the CTA announced that they planned to permanently close the State/Lake and Madison/Wabash elevated stations and replace the Randolph/Wabash facility with a "super station." Supposedly combining function, aesthetics and the need to replace "L" structures that date to the 1890s, the new station would have become the third-busiest station in the CTA's system and would've included a pedway connection to the Red Line subway one block away. The design of the new station, which was undergoing final review by officials from the city, the CTA and the Greater State Street Council, was described as a traditional, but modernized version of the Madison/Wabash station. As part of the construction work, the entire elevated structure was to be rebuilt from Lake to Washington streets and the support columns down the middle of Wabash would've been replaced by columns anchored along the curbs.
The consolidation plan languished for several years after, but did not disappear entirely. The designs from the late-1990s were apparently shelved, as the plan to consolidate three stations -- State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash -- was revised in favor of only consolidating the latter two, leaving State/Lake to be replaced with a new station facility east of State Street. An intergovernmental agreement was approved at the April 3, 2003 CTA Board meeting, providing $1 million to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for preliminary design and engineering work for the construction of a new station at Washington/Wabash. The CTA was to work with CDOT to design the station.
A New Station Takes Shape
An earlier artist's conception of the Washington/Wabash platform shows what the station was envisioned to look like at an earlier design stage at platform level looking south. Though the undulating glass and steel canopy differs here from the final design, the element was a signature part of the station's design even at earlier design stages. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
By Autumn 2011, the Washington/Wabash project was estimated to cost is $80.5 million, and officials hoped to have the money lined up to begin construction in 2014 or 2015, according to CDOT spokesman Brian Steele.1 Preliminary designs in place at that time called for stairs and an elevator at Washington Street on the west side of Wabash, and stairs and an escalator on the east side. Midway between Washington and Madison, two stairwells would serve exiting passengers. Two auxiliary entrances would be located on each side of Wabash just south of Madison to serve former users of the Madison/Wabash station. The new station would have larger platforms, increasing from 7-1/2 feet wide in some places currently to up to 16 feet.2 The fare controls, stairs, escalators, elevators, electrical, security and communications rooms would be on the mezzanine level.3 As of Autumn 2011, only funding for design and engineering had been secured. About $75 million was still needed for construction.4
At the dedication of the renovated Grand Red Line subway station on January 17, 2012, Chicago Mayor Emanuel announced the City's intention to proceed with several "L" station projects, including the new Loop station at Washington/Wabash, as well as construction of a new Green Line station at Cermak and the rehabilitation of the Clark/Division subway station. Final design work was scheduled to begin in May 2012, with construction scheduled to begin in April 2013 and expected to be complete by September 2014.5
Work, however, was delayed due to additional environmental studies that were required for the Loop project that were not initially anticipated, according to CDOT. The project was still in the design phase during Spring 2013, and CDOT anticipated soliciting construction bids by the end of 2013. Construction was projected to begin in mid-2014, with opening of the new station expected in late 2015.6
As design work on the new station was reaching the final stages, the final renderings for the planned Washington/Wabash station were released by the mayor, CDOT, and CTA on September 30, 2013.7
The $75 million station will be funded entirely by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds. The Chicago Department of Transportation is managing the design and construction of the station. In Fall 2013, the CTA estimated the station would have 13,375 daily entries (annual weekday average), making it the 5th busiest "L" station on weekdays. The annual total for the station is estimated to be 4.02 million rides.8
Design services for the station were carried out by exp (started while they were under their former name, Teng + Associates), 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.9
An artist's conception of the Washington/Wabash platform shows what the station is envisioned to look like at platform level looking north. The angled canopy weaves along the length of the platform like angled ribs on a spine. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
The Washington/Wabash station is designed to be "showcase" station with impressive aesthetics and presence -- the City intends the design to "transform the public's perception and expectation of public transportation in Chicago" -- and serve as a gateway for Millennium Park and the Loop.10
Renderings show the station will be located between Washington and Madison streets -- similar to the citing of Washington/Wells on the west leg of the Loop -- with the station starting just south of Washington Street and extending south over Madison Street.
The station's signature design element is the canopy over the dual side elevated platforms, a modern design with undulating waves serving as a contrast to the city grid according to the City: the "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."11
The fare controls, stairs, escalators, elevators, electrical, security and communications rooms will be on the mezzanine level. The platform capacity will be enlarged from the existing 7'-6" width to 10' to 13' widths. Materials have been chosen to allow visibility, reinforce the feeling of openness and to allow a visual connection to the historical corridor.12
The station will feature a wide array of green and sustainable elements, including: 100 percent LED lighting; reuse of a significant amount of existing structure and tracks; bicycle racks to encourage alternative transportation; recycling bins on the platforms to encourage paper recycling; Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs, or "cinderblocks") used in wall assemblies from regional sources; structural steel comprised of recycled material; metal fabrications used for cladding, wall infill panels, windbreaks, handrails and other items comprised of recycled content; rough carpentry required for blocking comprised of Certified wood; sealants and adhesives, exterior paint for the structural steel and interior paint for CTA offices with a low-VOC content to improve air quality; and HVAC systems used for the Customer Assistant and Concessions kiosks using CFC-free refrigerant.13
In early January 2015, the city awarded Chicago construction company F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen a $74.8 million contract to build the new Washington/Wabash station.14
Construction of the station is expected to begin in March 2015. The project will require the full closure of Wabash between Washington and Madison during construction, beginning Monday, March 9 and lasting for roughly 18 months. The Madison/Wabash station is scheduled to close March 16, with demolition to begin soon after.
The Washington/Wabash station is scheduled to open in 2016.
This artist's rendering of the proposed Washington/Wabash station depicts the facility at an earlier design stage as seen looking south from the corner of Washington and Wabash Stairs on each corner lead to a mezzanine, with the elevator located on the southwest corner. The undulating canopy profile was included both for aesthetics as well as to discourage pigeons from roosting on the canopy structure. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
The same view at the top of the page, looking south down the platform of the Washington/Wabash station, is seen at night, demonstrating how the platforms will be illuminated, including lights at the tips of the canopy "spines". (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
An artist's rendering shows a detail view of the apex of the platform canopies over the tracks, where the two angled side platform canopies nearly come together. This view shows how the translucent canopy roofing ends before the edge of the roof supports, with have lights embedded along their tips. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
This conceptual image of the Washington/Wabash station is the same view as the earlier rendering above, showing how the design of the station evolved by providing a comparison with the same view at a later stage of design. The basic layout remains the same -- the station stretches from just south of Washington (at the bottom) to across Madison (at the top), with entrances near Washington and mid-block leading to a central mezzanine -- but the biggest difference is the revised canopy design, which still had an undulating "wave" profile but a very different design and aesthetic relationship with the Wabash streetwall. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
An artist's rendering shows how the platform canopy and railings appearing looking up from a street-level vantage point. The "skeletal" motif of the canopies is carried through the railing design as well. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
1. Hilkevitch, John. "Renovation in sight for Red Line eyesore". Chicago Tribune. September 26, 2011.
3."Mayor Emanuel Opens Newly-Renovated Grand Avenue Red Line Station." City of Chicago press release, January 17, 2012.
4. Hilkevitch, ibid.
5. City of Chicago, ibid.
6. Swartz, Tracy. "CDOT: Year delay on Loop superstation." Red Eye. April 23, 2013.
7 . "Mayor Emanuel Announces Release of Final Renderings of Washington-Wabash CTA Elevated Station" City of Chicago press release, September 30, 2013.
14. Swartz, Tracy. "$75 million contract awarded for new Loop 'L' station." Red Eye. January 9, 2015.