Baltimore Sun

Bal­ti­more Penn Sta­tion will be ‘a hub for travel’

Re­de­vel­op­ment aims to en­hance ex­pe­ri­ence

- By Hal­lie Miller Transportation · Architecture · Industries · Arts · Baltimore · Amtrak · Maryland · Austin, TX · Texas · San Antonio · Pennsylvania Station · Penn Station · Gensler · Beatty, NV

The ren­o­va­tion of Bal­ti­more’s Penn Sta­tion will trans­form the his­toric trans­porta­tion cen­ter into a mod­ern and more func­tional tran­sit “ex­pe­ri­ence” for passengers that will in­clude shops and eater­ies, glass win­dows and out­door plazas with fine land­scap­ing de­tail, a team of de­vel­op­ers and ar­chi­tects said Thurs­day.

The multi-phase ren­o­va­tion will pro­duce a three-tiered sta­tion aimed at main­tain­ing the char­ac­ter of the cen­tury-old “Head House” while link­ing it to a sleek com­mer­cial cen­ter that backs up onto Lan­vale Street.

The ex­pan­sion will re­duce the “knot of traf­fic” at the en­trance and in­clude space for food trucks, parking for bikes and scoot­ers, des­ig­nated bus zones and pedes­trian-friendly walk­ways, said Peter Stubb, prin­ci­pal at the Gensler de­sign firm, who pre­sented plans at a vir­tual Ur­ban De­sign and Ar­chi­tec­ture Ad­vi­sory Panel meet­ing Thurs­day morn­ing.

“It’ll be a hub for travel but also a des­ti­na­tion that peo­ple wouldn’t mind go­ing to an hour ahead of time,” said UDAAP chair Pavlina Ilieva af­ter re­view­ing the ren­der­ings. “It’s clear and easy to get to things.”

The project fo­cuses first on Penn Sta­tion’s old Head House, the main build­ing on North Charles Street where a daily rush of com­muters, cars, taxis and ride-share providers meet. The team has sub­mit­ted per­mits to be­gin work on that first stage, which could start as early as the end of this year and last two years, ac­cord­ing to a phas­ing time­line pro­vided by Beatty De­vel­op­ment, one of the project’s part­ners.

The de­sign and de­vel­op­ment team se­cured a $90 mil­lion in­vest­ment from Am­trak in April 2019 and a $3 mil­lion Mary­land His­toric Re­vi­tal­iza­tion tax credit in De­cem­ber. In Fe­bru­ary, in­vest­ment firm Blue­print Lo­cal con­trib­uted an “undis­closed amount” in Op­por­tu­nity Zone fund­ing. The in­vestors pre­vi­ously in­fused cap­i­tal into Bal­ti­more and Austin, Texas, as well as San An­to­nio.

Penn Sta­tion, a cen­tral stop along the North­east Cor­ri­dor, is Am­trak’s eighth busiest sta­tion with more than 3 mil­lion passengers each year. Its re­de­vel­op­ment fac­tors into a $400 mil­lion to $600 mil­lion

project an­nounced in De­cem­ber 2017 to re­shape the sur­round­ing area into a tran­si­to­ri­ented hub of apart­ments, shops, of­fices and a ho­tel.

The de­sign and de­vel­op­ment part­ners have par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral ac­tive com­mu­nity meet­ings and town hall-style dis­cus­sions, Stubb said. Those con­ver­sa­tions led to a num­ber of in­cor­po­rated features, in­clud­ing el­e­vated out­door seat­ing ar­eas meant to look like porches or stoops, he said.

Glass win­dows will pro­vide a “train as the­ater” el­e­ment for com­muters, Stubb said, where peo­ple can watch the comin­gand-go­ing of trains as they min­gle and ex­plore. The de­sign also will fea­ture a

gran­ite ex­te­rior, steel de­tail work, cop­per and a “green roof” with veg­e­ta­tion on the com­mer­cial build­ing.

Jing­peng Gu, pres­i­dent of land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture firm Ma­han Rykiel, said the project aims to ac­com­mo­date a large vol­ume of au­to­mo­bile traf­fic while also creat­ing a sense of cohesion along the outer sur­face of the sta­tion with seat­ing and din­ing. High canopy trees will be planted to give the down­town neigh­bor­hood more green­ery, she said.

“We want the space to be iconic and also draw some spir­i­tual mean­ing to it,” Gu said.

The project also will in­clude track im­prove­ments to ac­com­mo­date Am­trak’s next gen­er­a­tion of high-speed trains.

 ?? GENSLER/HAND­OUT ?? This vir­tual ren­der­ing pro­vides an aerial view of the plans for Bal­ti­more’s Penn Sta­tion.
GENSLER/HAND­OUT This vir­tual ren­der­ing pro­vides an aerial view of the plans for Bal­ti­more’s Penn Sta­tion.

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