Mayor Also Unveils Selection of Noted Chicago Artist Folayemi Wilson to Create Unique Art for New Station That Will Fill a Transit Gap for the Near West Side Community
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by Alderman Walter Burnett and the heads of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) at the groundbreaking for a new CTA station to serve the Green Line at Damen Avenue and Lake Street. The Mayor also announced that art for the station will be created by Folayemi (Fo) Wilson, a noted Chicago artist from blkHaUS studios.
The $60 million Damen station is being constructed by CDOT and will be the fourth new Chicago CTA station added or started under the Mayor’s watch since 2011. The fully ADA-accessible station will serve the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, the United Center and surrounding residential area on the Near West Side, including the Chicago Housing Authority’s Villages of Westhaven complex. The neighborhood has seen notable residential and commercial growth in recent years.
“Today’s groundbreaking marks another major milestone for the CTA, which brings new jobs and opportunities for Chicago’s residents” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new station will be a community anchor, serve those who live and work in the neighborhood and will become a gateway to further usher in economic growth for the Near West Side.”
A major element in the construction of new CTA stations is the inclusion of art work that is inspiring and thought-provoking for both transit employees and members of the surrounding community. For the Damen and Lake station, the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), has chosen Wilson to create murals for the station. Wilson is working on a series of two-dimensional collages that will focus on three aspects of the West Side’s rich history: ethnic migration and cultural representation; architectural style and development; and industry and business.
The work beginning today will establish the foundation of the new station. Construction of the new station house is expected to start later this year and be completed in 2021.
“Residents of the near West Side and the 27th Ward will be very happy to see work getting started on the new Damen and Lake station,” Alderman Burnett said. “We’ve seen the kind of impact a new CTA station can have at Morgan Street. By investing in this community’s transportation options, we are creating a brighter future for everyone who lives and does business here.”
“CDOT is excited to be getting started on the foundation work for the new station,” said CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. “This new state-of-the art, multi-modal station features a modern, light-filled design. The station’s location will allow users to seamlessly connect with CTA buses, or to use bike share or walk to nearby destinations. And it will support local neighborhood growth and job creation while providing the capacity to serve large crowds attending events at the United Center.”
“Investment in new and improved CTA stations has paid great dividends for communities across the City, and that will be especially true here at Damen,” CTA President Dorval Carter said. “This new station will provide a new, convenient and affordable transportation option to this community to make it easier for people to get to and from work, school and their other destinations. And like other new stations we’ve recently opened, such as Wilson and 95th Street, this new station will make a significant and lasting architectural statement and become a new community landmark.”
Mayor Emanuel had previously released architectural renderings for the new station designed by Perkins Will, a Chicago-based global architecture and design firm known for innovative transit station projects from British Columbia to Chongqing City, China. This is the first Perkins Will transit project in Chicago.
Station materials and design elements were chosen and arranged to enhance and create an intuitive user experience of the facility and to allow for a long-lasting transit facility with low-maintenance requirements. A grand stair and escalator, clearly visible through the station’s transparent glass façade, will guide arriving passengers up to the platform level. A glass bridge will facilitate connections between inbound and outbound train platforms while simultaneously celebrating the breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline and orienting visitors to the neighborhood destinations and attractions. The visible structure of the bridge provides a dynamic reference to Chicago’s iconic steel bridges and creates a memorable icon for the station.
Similar stations that close the gap between existing stations, were built at Morgan (Green and Pink lines, 2012) and Cermak-McCormick Place (Green Line, 2015). In 2017, CDOT completed work on the striking new Washington-Wabash Station in the East Loop that created a modern, fully accessible gateway to Millennium Park and the lakefront.
This new Damen station builds on the series of major investments in the City’s transit system under Mayor Emanuel’s watch. Since 2011, more than 40 CTA stations have been rebuilt or received major renovations—more than one-third of the CTA system. That total includes signature station projects at 95th Street and Wilson on the Red Line, as well as the renovation of the Belmont station on the O’Hare Branch of the Blue Line.