If the dream of turning Chicago into a high-speed rail hub ever came true, would the station be an anonymous piece of infrastructure or would it give something back to the city?
Inspired by next year's centennial of the Burnham Plan, which created such iconic features as the city's lakefront, the Chicago Architectural Club on Sunday announced the winner of an ideas competition, slyly called "Burnham 2.0," that took up that question. The winner should generate healthy discussion even if it won't get built.
The plan, by four little-known Chicago architects, calls for a mostly underground station, just east of Union Station at 444 W. Jackson Boulevard, the site of the former Chicago Mercantile Exchange building. The station would be topped by a combination of flat and undulating roofs, as well as large triangular panels of glass. You could walk on those roofs. The station, which would have the feel of a sleek airport terminal, would lead to high-speed train platforms as well as water taxis on the Chicago River.