Morgan Street Station

Morgan Street Station
Chicago, IL
Transit station

Year and month completed: June 2012

Project partners:
Client/Owner: Chicago Department of Transportation, Division of Engineering
Architect: Ross Barney Architects
Prime Consultant, Transportation Engineer, Structural, Civil Engineer: TranSystems
Trackwork and Signal Engineering: LTK Engineering Services
Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Communications Engineer: OSA Engineers
Construction Engineer/Manager: H.W. Lochner
General Contractor: F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen
Conceptual Structural Design: ARUP

Project summary:
The Morgan Street Station is a new elevated train station, located at the heart of Chicago’s Fulton Market District. Although a commuter rail used to stop in the neighborhood as early as 1893, changing needs and reduced demand caused the station to close in 1948. Recent interest in redeveloping the neighborhood brought renewed train service to fill the existing gap in active transportation options. Within its first full year of service (2013), the station saw an annual ridership of 601,176, making it the sixth busiest station in its service corridor and exceeding the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 10-year projection. Train service has now become the primary mode of transportation for travel to and from the Fulton Market District, with average weekday ridership up 112% since 2012.

Numerous design efforts were made to increase access to the station. At the street level, effective changes were introduced to facilitate smooth transitions to and from other transportation networks. From the pedestrian perspective, sidewalks leading up to the station were made safer and more vibrant to increase overall comfort. Accommodations were also made for bike connections, helping the station align with the CTA’s general encouragement of cycling as a major form of transportation, which already permits bikes onto trains.

The design of the Station creates a strong sense of openness and connectivity by stressing translucency throughout the space. Glass and perforated metal facades allow daylight to penetrate the walls during the day and, with ample lighting, keeps the building interior visible throughout the night. Translucent canopies on the platforms themselves also bring natural light into the station, but also serve the other purposes, like providing weather protection and maintaining panoramic views of the rest of the city. Additionally, a passenger bridge was added to allow users to switch to the opposite platform without leaving the station.

The design team at Ross Barney Architects focused on developing a cohesive visual identity that is both easily recognizable and inclusive of the neighborhood culture. Aesthetic and material selection for the project pays homage to the area’s industrial heritage by exposing the structural framework and using materials like steel, glass, concrete, and polycarbonate. The Station also displays the CTA logo and remains distinctly illuminated throughout the night.

Morgan Street Station poignantly illustrates how the elevated train station—a commonly dark, inconvenient place—can be reimagined as not only a catalyst for increasing active transportation, but also a vibrant addition to both the pedestrian realm and overall neighborhood.

Active Design Highlights

  1. The surrounding sidewalks were widened to both accommodate for heavy pedestrian traffic and shorten crossing distances to the station.
  2. Attractive, sculptural bike racks are provided outside the station to make transitions to cycling more convenient.
  3. A Divvy bike share station was added on-site to support multi-modal connectivity to the station.
  4. The station purposefully readjusted its layout to accommodate an elevator, providing universal access to the station.
  5. Wide, translucent canopies on the platforms protect passengers from harsh weather while allowing vibrant daylight through to the space.
  6. Glass panels in the station houses provide transparency and enliven the stairways by offering views overlooking the city.
  7. Ample lighting throughout and under the building helps to keep the station easily visible and safe throughout the night.
  • User Side Images Image 533
    View from the street level, showing supportive features like creatively-designed bike racks and short crossing distances. Photo: Kate Joyce Studios.
  • User Side Images Image 534
    The Station encourages movement by creating interesting views of people moving through the space and of the surrounding cityscape. Photo: Kate Joyce Studios.
  • User Side Images Image 535
    The station has ample lighting within and below the tracks, providing safety and comfort at all hours. Photo: Kate Joyce Studios.