Train Station Translation: American Arts and Crafts Architecture
Rebelling against industrialization: Arts and Crafts architectural style emphasizes homespun character with strong local materials and attention to detail
The late 19th and early 20th century saw a dramatic change in rural communities’ social and economic structures. People moved from an agrarian approach to the long workdays and hardships brought on by urbanization. Weary of the mass production that came with the Industrial Revolution, Americans craved to reconnect with nature, to resurrect the “old days” when craftsmen constructed customized sturdy products. The Arts and Crafts (aka Craftsmen) movement rebelled against industrialization by emphasizing honest, robust design. . . . Call it the homespun version of architectural styles.
Train stations designed in the Arts and Crafts style consist of local, natural materials such as wood, stone, slate, copper, and iron. Added to these hardy materials are customized details that stir up a romantic expression of the craftsman’s attentiveness. Arts and Crafts stations are rugged, yet welcoming . . . anything but mass-produced.
An Expression of Old-world Charm
The Village of Tinley Park’s (Illinois) Oak Park Avenue station, completed in 2003, recreates the coziness of the Arts and Crafts era and captures what former Mayor Ed Zabrocki called the village’s “old-world charm.” Its stone walls, slate roofs, wood rafters, and cedar shingle siding helped earn it a spot on the American Institute of Architects’ list of “150 Great Places in Illinois.”
Lightly flamed copper gutters and light fixtures, as well as wood furniture further the statement. A three-story clock tower, tapered to provide a sense of stability, creates a focal point. The tower doubles as an observation deck with views of the surrounding community.
A Timely Design Concept
Although style is important, train stations can also benefit with a concept or theme that guides the design. In the case of the Tinley Park Oak Park Avenue Station, the theme was time.
When viewed from above, the facility resembles two clock hands set on a concrete paver plaza watch face. The hour hand houses a waiting area, while the minute hand contains the internet café and covered drop-off area. At the intersection of the hands, the three-story clock tower holds the ticket office, mechanical room, and outdoor observation deck. Stone monuments, each depicting a period in Tinley Park’s history, denote hour marks around the plaza.
Arts and Crafts Design Vocabulary
- Locally sourced natural materials
- References to nature
- Little quirks in design
- Attentiveness to details
- Exposed structural elements
- Human-scaled interiors
- Handcrafted construction
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