All Aboard Florida -- the passenger rail service promising train stops from Miami to West Palm Beach in 2016 -- announced design plans for its West Palm Beach station earlier today. This marks the final station unveiling, after Miami's and Fort Lauderdale's were released earlier this year.
The Palm Beach County station is set to be located between Datura and Evernia streets, near Clematis Street and CityPlace. This will create about 1,200 jobs in Palm Beach County just through the construction of it, along with $164 million in economic impact to the county through 2021, according to Mike Reininger, president and chief development officer of All Aboard Florida.
The design of the new station -- expected to be almost 60,000 square feet with multiple levels and shops -- mirrors that of the other two South Florida stations All Aboard Florida is working on and will cost $29 million. Fort Lauderdale's station will cost $30 million.
"There's a sort of design DNA these triplets share," said Olin McKenzie, a design partner of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. "I'm sure you've all seen the other two in the papers and you can see that West Palm Beach is another iteration on that same language. We thought that externalizing the structure of this building -- the kind of strong, vertical, concrete structural members -- would give it a confidence to allow it to sit as an urban icon in this city. But that wasn't enough, we wanted the structure to do more than that."
McKenzie says the shapes of the windows allow the building to reduce heat, something always needed in South Florida.
"You can see that those "V's" as we've called them have been sculpted to allow indirect sunlight to penetrate the glass volumes of each building that would trace someone's procession through the station, but also to block enough sunlight so as to make these buildings more sustainable."
The project will also take about three million vehicles off Florida's highways each year and generate over $16 million in tax revenue for the county through 2021. An additional 2,200 ongoing jobs -- in addition to the 10,000 construction jobs -- will be in place by 2021, as well, according to Reininger. It's something he associates with the location of the station.
"We looked very hard for a site where we could fit in and contribute by working together to make the final result greater than just the introduction of our train system alone and we're very confident with this particular site that we've found the perfect place," he said. "It's a short walk to Clematis Street or to City Place or to the waterfront," he said. "It's also a quick shuttle ride to the convention center, it connects passengers easily to the downtown trolly system and it provides convenient access to government and business centers and ample shopping and dining opportunities-- the reasons people come to West Palm Beach in the first place."
Bernard Zyscovich of Zyscovich Architects -- another of the design firms collaborating on the project -- said the best part of the project might not have anything to do with economic impact or city stature. It might have to do with a breathtaking view.
"The whole idea of this project and the way that it's been put together is to have a very welcoming and simple way of arriving to the station -- ample parking, ample drop-offs, the ability to get out of the rain, into the station, take the escalators up -- and then in my view one of the most interesting and phenomenal parts of this project is going to be that it has two glass ends that hover above the tracks. When the announcement is coming that the train is arriving, you're going to literally be able to see out the end of the building and watch this really new slick train arrive at the platform, you'll go down the escalators and a few minutes later you'll be on and off."
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