Denver Union Station / SOM

Denver Union Station / SOM

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

Train Station  · 
Denver, United States
  • Architects Authors of this architecture project SOM
  • Project Year Brands with products used in this architecture project
  • Photographer Created with Sketch.
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Structurflex, Terrazzo & Marble
  • Design Partner

    Roger Duffy
  • 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
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© Robert Polidori
© Robert Polidori

Text description provided by the architects. 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.

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Project location

Address: Denver, CO, USA

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Denver Union Station / SOM" 20 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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