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The new information and ticket pavilion on the intercity bus level of Union Station in Washington, DC, US, is a futuristic structure strengthened by a Divinycell core.
Described as light, yet impressively strong, it has quickly become an iconic symbol that marks arrivals and departures for thousands of travellers. Visited by 32 million people a year, Union Station in Washington, DC, DIAB explains that it is one of the busiest train and bus stations in the US. In 2011, a decision was made to transform this jammed building into a modern, inviting and efficient space that would help guide passengers from one mode of transport to another. The new station was inaugurated on May 1, 2013 and its centrepiece is a shiny ticketing and information pavilion built of composite material.
Studio Twenty Seven Architecture, who were contracted to design the new pavilion, hadn’t until then really considered using composite materials for construction. However, the long and narrow shape of the concourse limited the size of the pavilion, which also needed to be easily accessible and able to withstand weather exposure. Several design options were developed for the space. The winner was an unusual curved structure made up of two conjoined egg-shaped parts.
DIAB says that, at first, metals were considered, but cost and time considerations soon made Studio Twenty Seven and the project contractor, Monarc Construction, to glance at composites. The pavilion’s design reminded of a boat hull, so a decision was made to turn to Compmillennia, an experienced boat builder with a long history of manufacturing composite yachts. Compmillennia provided fabrication options and guidance to the architects as the design evolved. The silver metallic ovoid shapes were end cut vertically to create a planar, textured wall at each entrance of the pavilion and along its back wall. The result looked a bit like a zeppelin with the ends sliced off.
Since Compmillennia had a good working relationship with DIAB it says the choice of material was easy. To stabilise the wall panels of the pavilion Compmillennia used Divinycell H45, which gives impressive mechanical performance at low weight.
The pavilion was fabricated in two sections at Compmillennia’s plant in Washington, North Carolina, US, and shipped for installation via flatbed truck. Because the station is heavily used, there was a very narrow window in which Compmillennia could deliver and install the building: the night of May 1, 2013. The light weight facilitated moving the structures by hand through security barriers and a glass curtain wall.
Photo courtesy of DIAB.
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