AIA Illinois commends CTA for transforming the Garfield Green Line station into a “joyful, celebratory arrival to the Washington Park neighborhood”
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has received one of AIA Illinois’s highest architectural honors for the transformative renovation of its historic Garfield Green Line station. The 2021 AIA Illinois’ Greatest Impact Award noted how the rail station combines form and function with art and architecture, making it a welcoming gateway to the Washington Park community on Chicago’s south side.
This distinction marks the third major architectural award won by CTA for its Garfield Gateway station. Last year, the station won the AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award and Interior Architecture Award. Interior Design Magazine, which runs the design industry’s premiere awards program, also named the facility one of three finalists in its Best of the Year Awards, a worldwide competition.
The Garfield ‘L’ station, one of the oldest rail stations in the country, dates back to 1892 and originally served the World’s Columbian Exposition. Today, it includes two station houses – one currently serving present-day commuters, while the other is the restored, original station house, which the City of Chicago designated as an historic landmark in 2001 and now serves as a community-based arts facility.
CTA’s Green Gateway Project was a major, $43 million renovation of the station. A diverse, inclusive workforce brought their skills to the project, including many small and minority-owned businesses, which created jobs directly benefitting those in Washington Park and surrounding communities.
The resulting architectural enhancements include extended station platform canopies to provide more shelter; upgraded platform accessibility; improved elevators and escalators; and striking public art by acclaimed Chicago artist, Nick Cave.
His multi-disciplinary artwork, designs and materials meld with key architectural components of the station – its mosaic ceiling, fused glass platform windbreaks, lenticular columns, and the exterior of the station’s steel elevator towers – to create a whimsical, eye-catching structure.
“The uplifting effects of public artwork are woven into the architecture, giving riders a unique and playful, integrated and immersive experience for their everyday commute,” noted AIA Illinois Awards jurists in their press statement. “Garfield Gateway is beautiful and durable, an understanding of how public architecture, high-use infrastructure and art can coexist as one.”
AIA Illinois, established in 1946, is the state component of the national American Institute of Architects. The AIA Illinois Honor Awards recognize people and projects that help create communities in which people are drawn to live and work in a healthier, happier environment.
“The CTA and its project partners are honored and humbled by this award from AIA Illinois,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are very pleased that architects, artists and the more than 475,000 daily transit riders, bicyclists, pedestrians and the surrounding community appreciate the work and vision that went into transforming a rather ordinary station into an exhilarating, enjoyable customer experience.”
CTA is grateful for the work done by its engineering team, along with such distinguished project partners as: contractor Walsh Construction; the architecture/design/engineering firm of EXP; art glass installations by Skyline Design; and Nick Cave Studios.
“We at EXP are very proud of the project and honored to have worked on it with the CTA,” said Thomas Hoepf, FAIA, Senior Vice President and Design Director.
For more information about the Garfield Gateway Project, please visit: transitchicago.com/garfieldgateway/
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