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2005 Roma Street


In response to the rapid growth of the city, consideration is being given to new building sites. Existing infrastructure intersections form such sites, offering in-place transportation networks and the opportunity for development. The project is consequently located within the heart of Brisbane’s transit network and forms part of the Roma Street transit center. Consisting of multiple transportation modes, including bus, train, pedestrian, and car, the transit center forms an integral gateway to accessing the city. Currently it consists of three commercial towers, a block podium base, a trainyard, and a bus station. At ground level it offers confusing and obstructed connections to the street and parklands. On closer view, the selected site is strategically located to the north of the transit towers in an area that straddles the nearby parkland and the trainyard. It is at this point that the current transit center suffers its greatest urban disconnection, with extremely limited visual and pedestrian permeability. The proposal therefore is aimed to gather the loose threads of the city’s main transportation node and realign the missing urban ties. Catering to the expansion of Queensland Rail, the brief is to provide QR with new office space for itself as well as additional commercial office space (all with a five-star energyefficiency rating), a hotel, car parking, and ground-floor retail tenants. Further, the developed brief includes a long-distance arrival hall, gym, and public-gathering space. Focusing on reconnecting the transit center to the parkland and the greater city, the design’s critical component is the development of the ground plane. With a level change of seven floors from the train line to the upper parkland, the ground plane negotiates this change by establishing a public pedestrian zone from which all connections are made. Within this realm exist the differing program lobbies, retail tenants, café tenants, a public amphitheater, and other public spaces. Level changes are encouraged by the offering of public programs and connections to place. The building form is articulated by a balance of building economy and spatial dynamics, allocated to meet the brief requirements and to offer internal public-meeting spaces. The vertical circulation core responds to the movement of the train yard and transforms to become horizontal circulation as it hits the ground

implement automobile entry controls, either as full or selective exclusions or through the imposition of entry fees. Many such programs have been developed and are instituted in many cities, and they tend to become more severe as demand does not decrease. They are also an implicit admission that the central districts are saturated if efficient operations are to be maintained, and a lid has to be placed on any intensification of development. If the previous conclusion is not an acceptable policy for a community, then additional vehicular capacity (at least for service) has to be sought. It could be argued conceptually that in a modern city no point should be further than a mile from a major highway, and that any group of residents beyond, let us say, 100,000 should be touched by a link of a regional network. Given the fact that surface highways of this type have too many negative features and are not politically acceptable, there are only two options if, indeed, such a facility is seriously contemplated. One of them is to go up—build elevated viaducts carrying multi-lane highways. This has been done many times, and there are well known cases, such as Tokyo, Bangkok, and Lagos, as well as any number of American cities. The problems are that these elevated structures are deemed to be visually intrusive and unsightly, the space below them frequently becomes derelict, and the impact of pollution on surrounding properties is still present. It is doubtful that any community today would willingly accept such a facility, or perhaps only if the roadway is enclosed (“tunnel in the sky�) and the tube is incorporated in the manmade or natural landscape through very sensitive design. The other option is to go down. Tunneling is an ancient and expensive art, though modern machinery and procedures have reduced the cost. A highway in a tunnel will have drainage and ventilation problems, but those are mechanical issues. There may be concerns with visibility, lighting, and claustrophobia. The principal point is that such a facility would have no impacts on surface activities, except briefly during the construction phase.


There is no question that the costs would be high, but not beyond those that previous generations spent on subways, underground railroads, and major tunnels and bridges. The problem in contemporary American cities is that there is little civic and political will to spend resources for significant public-works programs while it is still possible to muddle through and feed on earlier investments. Yet, the 21st century is upon us, and things cannot remain the same as they were.


Catering to the expansion of Queensland Rail, the brief is to provide QR with new office space for itself as well as additional commercial of...

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