HOUSTON CENTRAL STATION
METRO Houston reviled on January 24th the competition entries for a new light rail station that will be at the junction of the existing rail line, and two forthcoming ones and will be known as, “Central Station.” I think this name is highly inappropriate given the natural images that comes into one’s mind when they hear “central station.” I am sure that any European visitor will be aimlessly wandering past this small stop in search of an actual station one day.
A design panel led by Deans Patricia Oliver of University of Houston and Sarah Whiting of Rice University helped narrow down the invited architects to five from across the United States.
SHoP Architects, New York
It should be noted that Neil Denari (like myself) has an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and Snøhetta was a final contender for the new MFA extension (which was recently awarded to Steven Holl). Competition entries are currently on exhibit in the first floor lobbies of the METRO Administration Building (1900 Main Street) and Chase Bank Building (712 Main Street) until February 10th.
I am personally very interested in the location of this station. It will sit directly outside of my most cherished bar in the world, The Flying Saucer. Of all of these entries, I find Interloop’s the weakest in terms of design, thought and presentation. I love LTL Architect’s style of drawings, but feel as though their design is a bit too simple. I also feel that they have the thing facing the wrong direction. The Flying Saucer attracts many people and the Central Station labeling should really face the drunken crowd as encouragement of use. Neil Denari gives a great iconic feel with its bright red geometric playfulness. The red brings back memories of Paris. Snøetta and SHoP both have fairly similar entries. Snøhetta seems to focus on the massive rains of Houston and how to collect it. SHoP really goes for gold in creating a unique icon for the city. SHoP is my personal winner for this. Let me know what you guys think.