Across the East River from Manhattan, a new rail station, constructed to its original specifications despite the recession, is bringing a civic transit presence to Brooklyn.

Photo: di Domenico + Partners

The Long Island Railroad Pavilion at Atlantic Terminal, completed in January, has replaced the station originally built in 1907, and connects six LIRR tracks and 10 subway lines. At $108 million, and serving 32,000 daily commuters, it is modest compared to its Manhattan sisters. But in its adherence to the original designs it stands unique.

“We made a serious effort to support the design from beginning to end,” says LIRR’s Richard Oakley. “Even when elements were being challenged by the contractor, we worked very closely with the architect.”

The design was straightforward: an easily navigable station, constructed for ease of maintenance from glass, steel, granite and limestone. But di Domenico + Partners, the New York-based architects on the project, also wanted to create a public space where people would want to wait and meet.

To do that, the team designed the space to be as open as possible. One large pavilion links all paths of circulation and a pair of wide stairs connect the concourse to the street. To emphasize openness and access, the station is clad in a glazed curtain wall and skylight.

“The very first day when we met with LIRR and MTA, my point was that our design element was going to be light, because light was free—a great resource and a way to make it a memorable place,” says Jon di Domenico, the principal of Domenico + Partners. “From that point forward, the rest becomes a question of how to detail it.

“Our goal was to restore the civic presence that the LIRR terminal always had above ground, and below ground we wanted to make a safe and well organized station.”

The curtain wall is fritted to prevent heat gain. In addition, the team conducted 3D studies tracking the movement of the sun during the winter and summer, and installed fins to prevent overheating.

“[The project] is a perfect example where the architectural features are in line with our needs in terms of conservation of energy and using natural light, keeping our cost down in maintenance,” Oakley says.

The last element is perhaps what makes this truly a Brooklyn station: the artists Allen and Ellen Wexler were brought in to collaborate. The “Overlook,” as their piece is called, is a viewing platform that comes in at street level above the concourse. Clad in granite, the structure is mean to resemble overlooks one encounters on hiking trail; but the pixillated, Escher-like surface makes it pop out as something more modern as well. By adding this element, the team made the Pavilion not only a place to move through on the way to and from work, but a place to wait, observe, and be seen.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: Long Island Rail Road
General Ccontractor: Stonewall Contracting, Flushing, N.Y.
Architect: di Domenico + Partners, Long Island City, N.Y.*
Structural Engineer: Stantec, New York

*Submitted Project to New York Construction