Minutes after the closing remarks were complete and the last of the press packed up their vans, we were left with a positive message to Live Indy. Mayor Ballard, a long time proponent of a stronger urban center, reinforced his position by declaring war on an urban population in flux. After decades of seeing people and job centers relocate to our adjacent neighbors’ counties, it appears that Indy has finally heard the message loud and clear. “We want a true urban center”! A center for families and young urban professionals alike. While an almost infinite amount of intangibles enter into this equation, One topic has been at the forefront of our struggle; transportation.
We have heard for many years, that our public transit is woefully inadequate for our population and out city size. We have seen plans go up for debate and collapse under political ruin. More recently, we have taken seriously, the need for an integrated center for our transit network. Just as Indy was home to the first of what became known across the country as “union stations”, we now needed to reinvent our hub. Too long, we have sat idle, content with overcrowded bus stops along Ohio Street to service our bus network. Minimal shelters from the elements failed to provide true shelter from oppressive heat and devastating cold. But finally the discussion of a transit center pushed towards the top.
What began with the dream of restoring Union Station to its full glory, was followed by the desire to craft a new building. A building purpose built for the modern system. Talks of ‘star’chitect Daniel Libeskind brought shock and awe to the discussion. We were all taken back when we learned that funds, appropriated for the hub, were reduced by almost half as plans sat idle. Perhaps a mixture of delight and disappointment set in as we learned that Libeskind had been removed as head architect for the project and ultimately, the firm. What would we be left with? An uninspired structure, simply creating the bus stop of the past, but with four walls and a door? Would we see anything?
Fortunately, we now have a look at what is to come:
With its sweeping curves, glass facade and open, airy interior, it would appear that we finally have a modern center for our bus system to grow. No longer will a passenger feel second rate when waiting for a bus to get to their job, home or store.
The prominent upslope and glass wall of the west elevation is an appropriate transition from what will be the most modern neighborhood in the city (old MSA site) to one of our most treasured historic districts (The Wholesale District). Modern? Sure. Functional? Yes.
What we have in front of us is the ability to grow, while providing what we need. This is a discussion piece that will, no doubt, have its critics. We will hear that it isn’t tall enough and that it should have been more of a mixed use structure. There will be questions as to the ability to serve BRT, LRT and inter-city bus service. There will be questions about adding more plaza space to a city which desperately needs to define the public spaces already available. There will be questions as to why Alabama Street is shown as a two-way street……..any takers? What I know, is that for what we need, for what Indy needs, this building meets it all. If this was our base design for structures in this city, imagine what we might look like today, tomorrow and decades into the future. I can’t wait to see it completed and con only imagine the energy this will bring to transit for our city. Besides, look how happy and comfortable most of these people are…….