In a city with no lack of historic buildings, South Station holds a distinctive place in that pantheon as an enduring symbol of Boston as “the hub”, the center of a brilliant cultural and technological legacy. Unfortunately this wonderful building declined apace with the demise of the railroads as the nation’s lifelines to the future. It took a concerted effort on the part of the MBTA to bring South Station back to life as the City entered a new era of prosperity at the close of the 20th Century.
As restoration architect for the original Station Terminal head house in joint venture with The Stubbins Associates, DHK was responsible for restoration of the shell of the building. A substantial portion of the building had been torn down in the past and had to be reconstructed from the ground up. The work included the long-missing west wing, parts of the crumbling east wing, a brand new concourse, new ticketing, waiting and platform areas and five stories of office space in both wings. The project also required realignment of the railroad tracks for more efficient service and a new underground connection to the adjacent Red Line subway station that was also restored by the joint venture under a separate contract. When it was rededicated, South Station received accolades for being “a truly public space” and today nearly 120,000 commuter rail passengers pass through this grand space each day.
Research for this reconstruction required not only the review of historic documentation but also field investigation to find sources of materials that exactly matched those used in the original construction. An additional challenge was the need to keep the train and subway stations in operation while the construction work was under way.