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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Train Station
  4. United States
  5. SOM
  6. 2014
  7. Denver Union Station / SOM

Denver Union Station / SOM

  • 01:00 - 20 May, 2014
Denver Union Station / SOM
Denver Union Station  / SOM, © Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

© Robert Polidori © Robert Polidori © Robert Polidori © Robert Polidori +14

  • Architects

  • Location

    Denver, CO, USA
  • Design Partner

    Roger Duffy
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

  • Managing Partner

    Anthony Vacchione
  • Urban Design and Planning Partner

    Marilyn Jordan Taylor
  • Project Manager

    Kristopher Takacs
  • Assistant Project Manager

    Mari Lipponen
  • Senior Transportation Planner

    Derek Moore
  • Senior Designer

    Themis Haralabides, Peter Glasson
  • Senior Technical Coordinator

    Robert Airikka, Kevin Peters
  • Technical Coordinator

    Rita Kwong, Alexandra Kovenat
  • Structural Engineering Director

    Charles Besjak
  • Senior Structural Engineer

    Dmitri Jajich
  • Structural Engineer

    Aurelie Ble
  • Master Developer

    Union Station Neighborhood Company (USNC)
  • Prime Consultant

  • Civil/MEP Engineer

  • Structural Engineer (superstructure):

    Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Structural Engineer (below grade)

  • Design/Build Contractor

    Kiewit Western
  • Public Realm Designer

    Hargreaves Associates
  • Lighting Design

    Clanton & Associates
  • Signage & Wayfinding

    Tamara Kudrycki Design
  • Historic Preservation

    Iron Horse Architects
  • Urban Design Consultant

    Ron Straka, FAIA
  • More SpecsLess Specs
© Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

From the architect. Denver’s historic Union Station is a Beaux Arts masterpiece located on the edge of the city’s central business district. SOM was commissioned to expand and transform this station into a major regional transportation hub. To do so, the firm converted 20 acres of former rail yards into an urban transit district that orchestrates light rail, commuter and intercity rail, bicycle and bus routes, and pedestrian pathways into an intuitive intermodal hub.

© Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

The focal point among these new elements is the open-air Train Hall, which was conceived as an efficient and formally expressive means of sheltering multiple railway tracks. Its primary structural system comprises 11 steel “arch trusses” spanning nearly 180 feet, clad in tensioned PTFE fabric. In profile, the canopy rises 70 feet at either end and descends in a dynamic sweep to 22 feet at the center, a gesture that allows the structure to protect the passenger platforms below, while remaining clear of the view corridor established to protect views of the historic station. Amtrak’s Zephyr trains— which zip passengers from Denver west to San Francisco and east to Chicago—now pull in beneath SOM’s soaring Train Hall canopy every day. In addition, four commuter rail lines are scheduled to open in 2016 and 2018.

© Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

A bustling, two-block-long pedestrian promenade at grade level links the Train Hall to the SOM-designed Denver Union Station Light Rail Terminal, which has carried nearly 10,000 passengers every weekday since it opened in 2012. An enhanced network of pedestrian and public spaces within and around the site now seamlessly integrates the hub into the LoDo (Lower Downtown) district to the east and newer residential neighborhoods to the south, west, and north.


Underground, the 22-gate Union Station Bus Concourse services 16 regional, express, and local bus routes. The terminal, measuring 980 feet in length, serves a dual purpose as a subterranean pedestrian concourse that connects the constellation of transportation programs distributed across the site. Vivid colors and natural lighting help passengers orient themselves, whether they are boarding buses, navigating to the light rail or commuter rail stations, or ascending into the capital city. Handsome terrazzo floors and sparkling yellow glass tilework elevate the ambience of terminal beyond the typical, often unimaginative depot experience, and a series of skylights and glass pavilions flood the hall below with daylight, infusing the station with a sense of motion and spaciousness.

© Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

One of the largest of its kind in the United States, the redevelopment of the former rail yards at Denver Union Station is a case study of the power of transit-oriented urban design. This substantial public investment has catalyzed an unprecedented wave of private-sector activity: Economists estimate that the project has already triggered more than $1 billion in private mixed-use investment on surrounding property. Sensitive to its historic location, but fundamentally forward looking in its technical sophistication and city-building spirit, Denver Union Station sets the standard for 21st-century intermodal hubs.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Denver Union Station / SOM" 20 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


pipo · May 24, 2014

it looks too much like calatravas trainstation in liege but does not look like it works so well...

Eric in Colorado · May 20, 2014

This is the dumbest expenditure of public money in Colorado in decades. As can be seen from the opening photo, the "train hall" does nothing to "shelter" anything. It's nothing more than a grand reminder of how foolish civic staffers are with public funds, and it's white! At least it will keep a couple more city staff busy cleaning it yearly. Look at any train hall in Europe, or even the eastern US, and they will all completely cover, and shelter, the passengers getting off of trains. This troll of a structure will only intensify the cold, snow carrying, winds that are going to circulate through all of the new high-rise buildings in the area. Worse yet, Denver is building an equally bad companion at the city's international airport. Oh yeah, that was the last dumbest expenditure.

JDH · May 23, 2014 11:47 PM

Your opinion of Denver Union Station as the "dumbest expenditure of public money in Colorado" has already been controverted by the level of adjacent economic activity that it has generated. The project is a great investment for Denver in terms of both transport infrastructure and live/work/play footprint, and it's a neat place to visit (even before the opening of the hotel or most retail tenants, or the debut of the new commuter lines, which will further expand traffic and regional activity). By all accounts (and in total opposition to your observational buffoonery), the Denver Union Station project entailed a creative public-private structure that will be the model for similarly progressive, forward-thinking cities. Your critique of the train hall as not "sheltering" anyone is confusing, considering you claim to be a CO resident; Colorado is famous for good weather, and the train station doesn't require a heavily weather protected infrastructure (the CO/Rocky Mountain climate is not similar to the Eastern US or to Europe, and I've lived in all three places). It's interesting that you used the word "troll" in your comments, although the only one discernable here appears to be yourself.


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