Snøhetta Holding onto Hope for a Rainmaking Central Station

Proposed Design by Snøhetta for Downtown Central Station, Main St. Between Capitol and Rusk, Houston

Craig Dykers of Norway-and-NYC architecture firm Snøhetta tells Chronicle reporter Dug Begley his firm has been working for more than a year on its own and with local contractors to lower the construction costs on his firm’s competition-winning design for Metro’s Central Station canopy — in between its work, that is, on a little reconstruction project for New York called Times Square. Snohetta’s design for a canopy made of thin layers of concrete was meant to highlight rainfall, making falling water “a feature of the design.”


Proposed Design by Snøhetta for Downtown Central Station, Main St. Between Capitol and Rusk, HoustonMetro’s board voted last week to proceed instead with the standard station design for the transfer spot between Capitol and Rusk near where 2 new rail lines intersect the existing Main St. line, even though doing so would cost the project $600K in funding from the Downtown Management District; estimates showed building the Snøhetta design would cost an additional $514,000 beyond those funds. A timetable shown at the meeting, which includes an additional 6 months for competitive bidding for a signature station, estimates installation of Snøhetta’s design could not be completed until more than half a year after the Southeast and East End lines are scheduled to open next fall.

Reports Begley: “Dykers, a UT Austin graduate whose parents and brother live in Houston, said he still hopes a special station can be built. Officials are working on a solution, but they have only a few days to make something work.”

Renderings of proposed Central Station: Snøhetta

Train on Main

13 Comment

  • Funny how the main renderings show the side of the street NOT including the Gulf building. What does that tell you about the architects’ effort to complement the surroundings? You have one of the most important buildings in Houston twenty feet away. It would be like if someone designed a transit station in front of the Woolworth Building or the Chrysler Building and the renderings showed the other side of the street.

  • Looks like something from Ikea.

  • This design was such a turd compared to the others in competition with it. I just don’t understand why this was chosen. I don’t get why so much money was plonked down to give people food and money during the unveiling if they couldn’t afford the damn plans. I want the red, metal i-beam station, not this insulting and un-Houston funnel. The competition that night also indicated this was not the winning proposal so all in all I’m super confused- and I was there!

  • Tell the METRO Board Members that we want this station! Tweet Christof Spieler (@christofspieler) and tell him to bring it up and you support the project. He’s usually very receptive to public comments.

  • Such a wonderful design design. Please buid this. Please.

  • I was a huge proponent for this design. I really liked the idea of it (using natural occurring rain, etc), and thought the design was also pretty cool.
    But now that I know that maintenance will cost almost double a normal station, realizing that it doesn’t fit its surroundings, and seeing as it costs more than what we have budgeted, I could care less.
    I’d actually be against it if they found a million dollar check made out to METRO under the mayor’s pillow. So maybe METRO’s incompetence saved the day.
    A broken clock is right 2 times a day.

  • NO. DO NOT build this ill-suited design. The rain/moisture funneling in the roof of the canopy will be a maintenance nightmare. It should have been inverted to make the rain run off the canopy!!!!

  • Beautiful Design.

    Can not understand Metro’s incompetence. Why go through this whole exercise? Host a competition. Select a design. Change the selection. Call the whole thing off. WTF?

  • @Mike – Pretty sure the rendering at the top of the article shows the Gulf building in the background. I like how the arches in the Gulf building are reflected in the canopy design. In fact, the Gulf building has many references to arches within it’s ornamentation as well. Personally, I hope Houston / METRO builds this iconic, innovative design!

  • I like the design but the more I here about the maintenance of the concrete I get worried. I’ve heard and seen examples of recycled glass being used instead of cement and I am told this possibly can help with potential mold and structural integrity of the concrete. I’ve seen the other designs as well and @Mother Hydra may have a point. Still Snohetta is a respected firm and I think it would do us some good just for once to do something out of the ordinary if we can get the maintenance cost down. Regardless of the design METRO screwed this up.

  • @ Mike – Other renderings (not on this post, but available by clicking on links a couple times) show all sorts of different perspective views…and I’m sure that even more were available to the reviewing committee.

    Still, something about this whole process just reeks of a bunch of ball dropping.

  • Looks like some kind of alien thing that will ultimately eat you while you wait for the train. It is waiting on the arrival for the mother ship which is due to dock at the top of the Memorial Hermann tower at Mem City.

  • Would a HUD.GOV grant like this one fund something like this? –> Transformation Initiative: Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program via