Last May, the preliminary redevelopment plan for Union Station was released, revealing development firm Riverside Investment and Development's ambitions to turn the aging train station into a place that people want to visit for reasons that don't involve catching the Amtrak or Metra. Renderings for the $1 billion redevelopment project depicted five new buildings surrounding the station, a series of public plazas, two new rooftop area and a food hall within the station.
Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune unveiled the latest renderings of the Union Station redevelopment, which depict a seven-story structure placed on top of the historic building. Back in May, developers proposed a pair of 13-story towers atop the station, but the latest plan is apparently more in line with the plans for future additions that the building's original architects envisioned after it was completed in 1925. According to the Tribune, the addition will contain 404 apartment buildings, while the existing structure above the station will be converted into 330 hotel rooms.
Reactions to the latest renderings haven't been overwhelmingly positive, with many comparing the proposed Union Station addition to the modern grandstands that were constructed on top of the classic Soldier Field structure in 2003. Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin bemoaned the plan to “plunk a squat modernist box atop the existing structure’s neo-classical pedestal,” in a scathing column, stating that “the seven-story addition and its 404 rental apartments would bring to the forlorn but grand train station all the grandeur of a Holiday Inn.”
With plans that still need to gain the approval of City Hall and work on the project not expected to begin until sometime next spring, there's still time for the design of the proposed addition to evolve. The developers may want to look to some of Chicago's most beautiful buildings for inspiration, ensuring that any addition to a structure as iconic as Union Station is able to stand the test of time.
Take a look at some additional renderings of the proposed Union Station renovation below.