Rehabilitation of Metra’s North Chicago station refreshes 50-year-old shelter, brings in more natural light, and improves visibility/security
After nearly 50 years of use, the North Chicago Metra Station looked tired and worn. Decades of train diesel exhaust had stained the exterior wood siding. The metal roof had discolored over the years and the narrow, tinted windows limited daylight and views.
On top of these functional problems, the station had some aesthetic shortcomings. “The initial design was based on a nautical concept with the upper triangular portion as abstract sails and the lozenge-shaped windows as portholes,” said Legat Architects’ Chief Creative Officer Ted Haug. “Some found it unique and a bit quirky. Others, myself included, found it out of place and strange.”
Metra and the City of North Chicago tasked Legat with giving the station a fresh new look. The resulting makeover not only repairs the damages, but also does away with the nautical concept. It reclads the building’s exterior (everything except structural brick piers) with bright, durable, low-maintenance materials. Salt-resistant stone on high-abuse areas of the building’s base protect it from damage, while prefinished cement board lap siding on the upper areas of the station reduces construction costs.
Haug and his team carefully chose material colors. He said, “The light earth tones with the red accent of the roof and trim give the station a much crisper and more contextually appropriate appearance.”
The project also adds larger windows that bring in more daylight, offer better views to the tracks from the inside, and improve security (easier to see into the building during darker hours).
A new roof and related trim eliminate leaks. The competitive bid environment allowed for installation of a prefinished standing seam roof. Benefits of these roofing systems range from durability and weathertightness to improved energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements.
“This project preserves the unique character of the original facility but provides the community and My Metra’s customers with a shelter that is much more functional and durable,” said Metra Chief Operating Officer Kevin McCann at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Our stations are very much a part of the communities My Metra serves and projects like this are great examples of what can happen when we work together.”
This revived North Chicago station will provide the citizens of North Chicago with many more years of useful service.
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