Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) April 10, 2013
On April 8, 2013, HOK joined airport and community representatives in celebrating the opening of Stage 1 of the new PHX Sky Train™, one of the world’s most advanced and energy-efficient automated people movers. The all-electric PHX Sky Train™ is the result of an eight-year collaboration between the Los Angeles office of international architecture firm HOK and transportation design and engineering firm Gannett Fleming. HOK designed the stations while Gannett Fleming designed the rail system and bridges.
The first of three planned stages, Stage 1, which includes three elevated passenger stations, travels a 1.7-mile route linking Phoenix’s METRO light-rail station with the airport’s economy parking structure and the 88-gate Terminal 4. It is expected that 2.5 million passengers will ride Stage 1 in the first year of operation.
By bringing transit directly into one of the nation’s busiest and most urban airports—Sky Harbor is located just three miles from downtown Phoenix—the PHX Sky Train™ serves as more than just a hub for smart transit or transit-oriented development. By better connecting Phoenix’s growing downtown with Sky Harbor it establishes a new framework for the city’s long-term growth.
“We wanted to do something efficient and flexible that would fit with the airport’s goals,” says Chris Anderson, HOK’s senior design architect for the project. “They were looking to make Sky Harbor a multi-modal airport,” he adds. While this would serve the immediate need to reduce congestion around the terminals it also reinforces the airport’s long-term goals for smart growth and flexibility.
Ernest Cirangle, Director of Design for HOK Los Angeles says there were two big challenges the design team had to navigate. “One was that everything had to fit seamlessly within very complicated existing conditions,” he says. “It was like working inside a Swiss watch.” The other challenge was determining the overall design language. Cirangle says he came up with the idea to play off aerodynamics and aviation imagery to give the 44th Street station a public character that signaled its purpose.
The 44th Street station, connecting with Phoenix’s METRO light-rail, was conceived as the flagship station for the entire system. “This station was designed to capture the imagination and excitement of movement,” says Anderson. Overall, HOK designed a streamlined and functional solution that makes a statement without being grandiose. As a result this flagship station will stand out as a symbol for Sky Harbor and the city as a whole.
The elliptical form of the station, while easily identifiable, is more than a symbolic gesture. Because the shape is structurally more efficient, it allows for a 30 percent reduction in steel when compared to more conventional structures. This was a significant carbon footprint-reducing measure. The elliptical shell also functions as a high-performance envelope, protecting passengers from the extremes of the desert climate. Set between this envelope and below the platform is the covered, open-air breezeway. While strategically conceived as space for the future growth of the station, the phasing of this expansion created a significant reduction in the stations immediate and near term heating and cooling requirements.
This and other strategies implemented in the design allowed HOK and partners Gannett Fleming to reduce the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6,000 tons per year. The three stations will also use 30 percent less power than an established baseline. The entire project has achieved a rating of LEED-NC Gold, making it the first automated people mover system to receive such a rating.
HOK’s clean and flexible design also made it possible for local artists to use the architecture as a pallet for vibrant works of large-scale public art, such as expansive floor, ceiling, and wall mosaics. “Public art was always part of the mix,” says Cirangle. “We helped select the art and coordinated how it would be integrated for each station and bridge connection.” Thus, PHX Sky Train™, while evoking the dynamism of high-tech travel, is imbued with a sense of place specific to the history and identity of Phoenix.
“We think people will be pleasantly surprised,” says Cirangle. “One of the nice things,” he adds, “is that it looks almost effortless and passengers won’t realize how much work went into making it look so simple and like it just belongs there.”
HOK is among the world’s leading transportation planners and architects. The Los Angeles office of HOK ‘s recent transportation projects include the Anaheim Regional Transit Center (ARTIC), PHX Sky Train™, and Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus facility. HOK is a global architectural firm that provides planning and design solutions for high performance, sustainable buildings and communities. Through its collaborative network of 24 offices worldwide, the firm delivers design excellence and innovation to clients globally. HOK's expertise includes architecture, interiors, planning and urban design, engineering, strategic facility planning, consulting, lighting, product design, and graphics and construction services. http://www.hok.com