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South Station: Transporting Boston into the Future

Cannon Design South Station Transporting Boston REV

Any Boston architect will tell you that if you look around Boston, you will see a century of evolutions that aspire to better connect the city with our region and the nation.

What CannonDesign will tell you is that to truly see the scale of our city’s ambition, you have to look at what’s underneath—specifically, underneath South Station.

Our playful take on the landmark shows what the average city-dweller or tourist sees: A neoclassical hallmark that serves a modern-day purpose of its original intent. It is a hub of national and regional transit where workers take the commuter rail to get in and out of the city from the suburbs, and a gateway to the nation where travelers can board trains to take them to Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.

But looking deeper, into the gingerbread crust of our city, each iteration of Boston’s infrastructure came with a new layer of transit. Below the platform is the Silver Line platform that connected downtown Boston to Logan Airport, and the planes that fly overhead. A layer further are the tunnels of the Red Line, the most traveled line of our nation’s oldest subway system.

Three layers down is the traffic that was submerged under the city as part of the “Big” Dig” project, which buried the noisy and polluting central artery and made way for the Rose Kennedy Greenway that today sits above it, with 17 acres of green, public use land, where hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists play every year.

Finally, if you look closely, you might see some dinosaur footprints first found in MA in 1802, in addition to the unearthed mastodons fossils from the Pleistocene period. These sugary fossils celebrate the fact that dinosaur tracks are Massachusetts state fossil.

Today, South Station looks to the future. A historic terminal renovation and air rights project is taking its place as the next iteration of the building’s history, creating a breathtaking new concourse in the transit hub, constructing a mixed-use tower, and contributing to Boston’s climate goals of getting people out of their cars and into public transit.

Mayor Wu said it best as she unveiled the latest iteration, noting, “This transportation center will embody what we want people to feel about our city when they first set foot here and what the ethos of Boston is — a place that is welcoming, connected and inspiring to all.”

Our team at CannonDesign could not agree more—and in this sweet version of South Station, we also see a pinnacle of history, a beacon of open arms, and a symbol of Boston’s transformative future.