Union Station Restoration

Washington, DC

Quick Facts: 

Client: Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC)

Market: Public/ Civic

Services: Architecture

Photographer: Jessica Marcotte

Project Team: John Bowie Associates – Historic Preservation

Awards: AIA Award of Merit Virginia Chapter

After 25 years of operation as a revitalized transportation and retail gateway to Washington, DC, Union Station required a renewal.  Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, the owner and operator of Union Station, commissioned MWAP to prepare a multi-disciplined full-building assessment to ensure that this historic complex will be maintained for the next 25 years.  Following the submission of the assessment, a rare earthquake struck the mid-Atlantic region causing parts of the plaster barrel vault to crack and fall, which consequently created urgency to restoring the historic structure.

In use since 1907, Washington D.C.’s iconic Beaux Arts Union Station has evolved into a 21st. century multi-modal transportation, retail and entertainment hub for over five million passengers per year.

We were thrilled to be part of the team for the restoration and preservation of the historic main hall, and the process that will map out the Station’s preservation for the next 25 years, while immediately addressing various structural, mechanical, operational and conservation issues.

From repairing cracks and re-gilding hundreds of coffers in the plaster ceiling, to reinforcing the structure and replacing air delivery and return systems, the work at Union Station addresses immediate concerns – and sets the stage to accommodate future, yet-unknown modes of transportation and commercial and lifestyle trends.

The team is addressing critical (and invisible) issues such as structurally reinforcing the main hall, replacing the mechanical duct air delivery and return systems, and constructing a new catwalk system above the vault.  The work that can be seen involves the restoration of the plaster ceiling by repairing the cracks and re-gilding several hundred coffers in the five-bay main hall.

Designed by Daniel Burnham in the grand Beaux Arts style, Union Station has been one of Washington DC’s iconic buildings since its opening in 1907.  It has been through several transformations, none more radical than the major redevelopment efforts of the mid-1980s when retail mall shops took over the former train concourse. More recently, intercity buses have moved into the connected parking garage, joining Amtrak, MARC and Metrorail to make it a true multi-modal hub and gateway for thousands daily.

The Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) was established to oversee the 1980s redevelopment and the ongoing maintenance and preservation of the historic structure and the newer waiting area connector.