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Texas Bullet Train Developer Gets Station Design Inspiration

Rendering of a Brazos Valley train station platform (Credit: Ledell Thomas and Kaylah Wesley)

While Houston and Dallas residents are still waiting for the much-anticipated high-speed train connecting the two metro areas to break ground, a recent student design competition gives them a peek at what some of the stations could look like.

Texas Central Partners, the private company developing the bullet train line, asked college students studying architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and transportation to submit proposals for station designs in three categories: architectural, urban and sustainable. The contest drew 45 proposals. The winning teams, announced Wednesday, won $5,000 for their school and $2,000 for team members.

While Texas Central won’t use any of the designs in full, reps said they were inspired by the students’ visions for the stations. “The winners of this competition displayed truly innovative ideas, design creativity and an emphasis on sustainability,” Texas Central CEO Tim Keith said in a press release.

Texas Central hasn’t announced a firm date to begin construction, but work could start in 2017. The Japanese-style bullet train will reach speeds of up to 205 mph, connecting the two metro areas in only 90 minutes.

Here are the winning designs:

Architectural Design

Cross-section rendering of the architectural design proposal

For the new Dallas station, Julia Green of UT-Arlington proposed a 3-floor elevated structure that traverses several Dallas highways that converge at the site. The station isn’t set to be downtown, but a Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail connector would take travelers to other lines. Parking, a gallery space for local artists, retail, restaurants and a coffee shop are placed underneath the station.

The entire building is enclosed in a curtain wall system with a series of louvers to protect the building and visitors from the harsh Texas sun. Solar panels at the top of the station help power the building.

Urban Design

Exterior of the winning urban design proposal

The winning urban design from Dana Moore, Nathan Chen, UJ Song, Hannah Williams and Alex Davila, a team from UT-Austin, nestles the Dallas station on the edge of downtown on a walkable, sloping hill. The site is bordered by major highways and the Trinity riverscape, a newly developed green space with pedestrian and bike trails. The design also features a “porous, swooping framework of wooden cells, which compress and expand along the massing according to solar analysis.”

“Our proposed Dallas station achieves the majesty of an iconic form and the modesty of thoughtful consideration,” the proposal states, “leading Texas toward sustainable transit with high walkability, self-reliant energy technology, and passive shading and ventilation tactics.”

Sustainable Design

Exterior of the sustainable design proposal 

Ledell Thomas and Kaylah Wesley of Prairie View A&M designed a Brazos Valley Station using native materials and off-grid renewable energy backups that can withstand hurricanes and other extreme weather. Other sustainable features include reclaimed wood, rainwater barrels, gray water toilets, solar panels and green walls to help regulate the temperature.

The 4-level station also has plentiful windows and space for a gallery, restaurant, business center, ballroom, gym, arcade, farmers market, retail and a roof deck.

11 Cities Win Climate Change Awards

Addis Ababa Light Rail passes through Ethiopia’s largest business district, Merkato. (Mulugeta Ayene/AP Images for C40)

When faced with growing flooding concerns throughout its neighborhoods, Copenhagen implemented a sweeping network of drains to channel stormwater into underground basins and canals.

That project, dubbed the Copenhagen Cloudburst Management plan, was one reason the city won an award this week at a C40 climate conference in Mexico City. C40 is a global network of cities working on climate change. All winners were recognized in a ceremony Thursday for projects centered around sustainable design, resiliency and social equity.

Portland, Oregon (Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP Images for C40)

Portland, Oregon, the only U.S. city to receive an award, was recognized for its ambitious 2015 Climate Action Plan, a blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Under the plan, the number of residents traveling primarily by public transit, bikes or walking is expected to rise 50 percent, and the number of electric vehicles is set to increase to 8,000. The CAP also aims to reduce energy use in existing buildings by 1.7 percent per year, which would result in a GHG reduction of 280,000 metric tons in 2020.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was honored for its new light-rail network, the first light-rail transit line in sub-Saharan Africa. The $474 million system can carry 60,000 passengers an hour, provided more than 6,000 jobs and is on track to reduce emissions by 1.8 million metric tons by 2030.

Seoul, South Korea (Credit: C40 Cities)

Seoul, South Korea, received C40’s first award for social equity for its Energy Welfare Public Private Partnership, which financed energy retrofits for low-income families, helping them reduce energy consumption and save money. The program aided 1,295 households in 2015, and is on track to help more than 1,000 more households by the end of 2016.

While there’s no prize money with the C40 awards, last year’s winners received a publicity boost for their projects. Here’s the full list of the 2016 winners:

Addis Ababa: Transportation

Copenhagen: Adaptation in Action

Curitiba: Sustainable Communities

Kolkata: Solid Waste

Sydney & Melbourne: Building Energy Efficiency

Paris: Adaptation Plans & Assessments

Portland: Climate Action Plans & Inventories​

Seoul: Social Equity & Climate Change

Shenzhen: Finance & Economic Development

Yokohama: Clean Energy

C40 also released a report at the conference outlining a plan for U.S. cities to help the country meet the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets called “Deadline 2020: How cities will get the job done.” According to the report, if all cities with more than 100,000 people achieve the climate recommendations outlined in the agreement, the world will see a 40 percent reduction in emissions causing climate change.