Advanced Design Studio: Krier
The City of New Haven has undergone a number of unfortunate purges of its traditional fabric in the name of urban expansion and infrastructural improvement. The net result has been anything but these goals, with key transit locations becoming entirely isolated from the city center by a wholly unintelligible, non-pedestrian urban system. Working from a master plan developed by Leon Krier, a new, traditional waterfront quarter is proposed, as well as a re-routing of I-95 around the city.
While this restores a vernacular fabric to New Haven, it leaves unanswered this question of reconnection to the city center. By looking to Cass Gilbert and Frederick Law Olmsted’s “Plan for New Haven,” it is clear that a radical re-working of the land between The Hill and Downtown is as necessary now as it was in 1915. By merging the Gilbert-Olmsted plan with the traditional fabric proposed in the Krier plan, a new urban fabric, whose major axes along Church Street and Highway 1 provide direct access to The Green, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the Old Campus of Yale, is formed. The Knights of Columbus building now serves as a strong urban marker to direct pedestrian travel.
In this new development, Union Station must not only accommodate a larger number of travelers, but it must do so in such a way that celebrates train travel. At present, visitors are directed underneath the tracks and emerge unceremoniously onto the platform. In this new scheme, passengers ascend within the building into two carriage buildings and out onto a raised plaza which leads down to the platforms. From the city, a new clock tower marks the station’s location from afar, while a new pavilion directs vehicle traffic and foregrounds the new station portico. Based on Gilbert’s original, this portico protrudes slightly to provide shelter from the elements and the give relief to an otherwise flat elevation. With these changes, Union Station and the surrounding district of New Haven can become the new symbols of the city and a paradigm for future development.