Architecture students win award in statewide train station design contest

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Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

A train station design featuring a sweeping canopy, solar panels and translucent concrete earned five UT architecture students the Urban Planning Award at the Future Architects Design Competition.

Texas Central, a private company currently developing a high-speed train system, asked Texas architecture students to submit creative visions for train stations in Dallas, Houston and the Brazos Valley, according to a press release. The company announced the winners last week.

Architecture juniors Nathan Chen, UJ Song, Hannah Williams, Alejandro Davila and architecture and Plan II junior Dana Moore submitted a design for the Dallas location.

Moore said the team designed an iconic “U”-shaped canopy for the station consisting of a wooden framework, which contained a network of translucent concrete and solar panels. Their proposed structure symbolized the narratives of arrival and departure, Moore said.

“When you get there, you see the city skyline,” Moore said. “When you’re leaving, [the canopy] opens up again and you have this definite feeling that you’re escaping to somewhere.”

Chen said the teammates were not familiar with train station design, so the project entailed research of both theoretical designs and existing structures. Chen said stations in Japan and Taiwan inspired the team to integrate commercial retail developments into their plans.

“We noticed that a lot of train stations around the world provide more than just a train station, so that’s what we were trying to push,” Chen said.

Chen said urban planning is about considering how a new building will interact with the existing infrastructure of the area. The team wanted the train station to become a hub of activity in the city, Chen said.

Urban planning is an important aspect of architecture, Moore said.

“There’s a new demand for architecture as a social profession, so it’s not just about making buildings that stand up and are safe, it’s about trying to leave a good impact on the public,” Moore said. “It’s usually better if you delicately weave yourself into the existing urban fabric that’s already there. That’s what we tried to do with the train station.”

The team received $2,000 for themselves and $5,000 to allocate toward the School of Architecture. Davila said the team wants to give back to the students by using the funds to purchase equipment such as plotting machines and laser cutters.

“It feels great to be able to support the school and represent them,” Davila said.