Several sources have linked to a great photo compilation from design boom on avant garde subway station architecture from around the world. The images come from:
- stockholm tunnelbana
- munich u-bahn
- bilbao metro
- shanghai bund sightseeing tunnel
- dubai metro
- tokyo – iidabashi station
- prague – line a
- moscow – komsomolskaya station
- toronto – museum station
- barcelona – drassanes station
Some of the stations are quite striking – and no, DC did not make the list.
The question it raises for me is the value in having a coherent design language for the system – providing ease of use for passengers – and sparking visual interest and making great spaces. DC’s vaulted stations fit into its federal, monumental role quite nicely, but the uniformity of the system (despite the small differences and details) can also be monotonous and dull.
In the event that more underground Metro stations are added within the District (perhaps with the New Blue line, or other core expansions), it’s interesting to think about new station architecture that would maintain the same design principles of the current system (volume, open train rooms, common materials – concrete, brass, red tile, etc, indirect lighting) while also allowing some variability that could provide unique identification for certain stations without sacrificing design unity.
Many of Stockholm’s stations, for example, use the look of exposed rock tunnels (a look considered for DC by Harry Weese, incidentally – to show the differences in construction methods for the stations drilled into the rock, versus those crafted with cut-and-cover methods), providing unity between stations while still allowing for unique designs.
Perhaps future expansions to the Metro could swing more in the direction of unique station designs and public art installations.