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Austin High Speed Rail Station

University of Texas at Austin, Design VI Comprehensive Studio, Spring 2015
Critic: Danelle Briscoe

UTSOA Sound Building with Distinction

Austin’s transportation infrastructure is in dire need of improvement as Austin continues its rapid growth. This project re-imagines the current Amtrak train as a High Speed Intercity Rail, to create an efficient and sustainable alternative to vehicular inter-city transportation, connecting Austin to San Antonio and Dallas-Forth Worth.

Currently, the Austin Amtrak station is a small building adjacent to a single at-grade track. The track is a major and dangerous barrier shared by infrequently used commuter trains and freight trains. As a response, the tracks and station are thus lifted off the ground to open the ground for the people, providing expansive and unparalleled views of Austin during the process of arrival and departure. This strategy gives back the ground surface to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The tracks, platform, and programs are lifted using a triangulated-diagrid structure. The structure acts as a porous membrane, covering the public space as well as act as a threshold for the “arrival” and “departure” experiences of commuters and travelers. Two layers of structure exist, acting to lift the program and to lift the platform and tracks. While the crux of the project may appear to be the complex structure and canopy developed in dynamo, the core concept of the station lies in a desire to re-focus spaces back to people.

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The circulation scheme creates a centralized gathering area at ground level, from which the platform can be reached through two public circulation paths - allowing efficient access to both ends of the train. Cores running through the programs and platforms provide additional means of egress and accessible routes to the platform.