Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Question and Answer Period Closed

Thank you for your interest in the 2009 Burnham Prize Competition.

The Question and Answer Period has now closed.

Please check this page for updates on competition matters.

Best of Luck! We're looking forward to your entries.

Submissions may be uploaded via the competition website anytime between OCT 10 2008 and OCT 15 2008.

Q: Is it possible to get any more context (height of surrounding buildings) on the sections?

No further drawings are available.
Google Earth is an excellent resource for this kind of application.

Q: The West Loop Transportation Center includes an intercity (potentially high speed) rail station at its lowest level.. What should we do with this?

You may make whatever assumptions about this line that further the conceptual clarity of your scheme. The line may be eliminated, retained as high-speed or conventional intercity, or modified in any way you choose.

Q: As the commuter waiting area is accessible by the public, would the general waiting area thus be part of the commuter waiting area?

Per the program, these are two separate requirements, though they may be adjacent.

The commuter waiting area (15,000sf) is specifically intended for passengers waiting to board trains.

The general circulation allowance of 70,000 sf may include areas for waiting, but is not intended to replace the commuter waiting area.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

REMINDER: Question and Answer Deadline 15 September

The deadline for submitting questions to this blog is tomorrow, Sept 15 at 11:59PM. (GMT -5:00)

Please continue to check this blog for updates and announcements.


It has been brought to our attention that the Upper Level Floor plans contain inconsistencies.

These errors have been corrected and the revised Upper Level Floor plans are now available on the competition downloads page:


The Club apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.

Our documentation of the existing building is based on several, occasionally contradictory, sources, and every effort has been made to create a consistent set of base drawings. Should you discover further inconsistencies, please make whatever assumptions are necessary for the clarity and integrity of your concept.

Q: Can you provide more details about the construction of union station (load bearing walls, columns, etc..)?

Per the brief, you may assume that the existing building can support a vertical addition of 300ft.

You may propose unlimited modifications to the existing building or structural system as your concept requires, and may make any reasonable assumptions about the building's structural system or material properties based on the drawings given to you.

As this is an ideas competition, please make whatever assumptions or alterations you feel support and reinforce your concept.

Q: Can we add a bridge across Canal Street between Adams and Jackson, provided that the current traffic flow remains?

Any solution that allows for the continuity of traffic on Canal Street is permitted.

Q: What are the requirements for the “secure waiting area”? Can passengers with the ticket of local transit use this waiting area?

The secure waiting area is meant for passengers of High Speed Rail who have already passed through the security checkpoint, but have not yet boarded their trains.

The waiting area for commuter rail and conventional trains is similar, but is intended for passengers who do not need to pass through the security checkpoint. This area may, therefore, be accessible to the public at large, while the secure waiting area may not.

Q: Is "Clinton Street Transitway" (under Transportation Program on page 6) of the brief referring to the underground "West Loop Transportation Hub" ?

Yes. This is the proposed multi-layered tunnel connecting Ogilvie Transportation Center to Union Station.

Q: What is the nature/use of the secure waiting area specifically if it is distinct from the platforms?

The platform areas are intended solely for boarding and disembarking trains. The secure waiting area will be used by high-speed rail passengers to wait for their trains once they have passed through the security checkpoint.

Other rail passengers need not pass through security checkpoints, but nonetheless require a dedicated waiting area in addition to the platforms.

If we compare the rail station to an aiport, the train platforms act as the jetways do -- merely for loading and unloading passengers. The waiting area is analogous to the departure lounges at each gate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Q: Will the pdf's(2@24"x36") be printed after they are submitted electronically? Is there a maximum file size (MB) for those pdf's?

The PDF files may be printed after electronic submission.

There is no maximum file size for the PDFs.

Please note that per the competition brief, the PDF should be accompanied by .jpg images of individual drawings and boards at 72 dpi.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Q: Can different offices of the same corporate entity submit separately?

Yes, as long as each entry is accompanied by a separate registration.

Q: Can participants submit more than one entry? Or be a member of more than one team?

Participants may submit multiple entries, but the entry fee applies to only one entry. That is to say, three proposals require three independent registrations.

Participants may be members of more than one team.

Q: Can the secure waiting area be considered as the platforms area?

The two waiting areas (secure and general) are distinct from the platforms.

Q: Are all spaces inside the old Union Station available for arranging the transportation and supplemental programs?


The existing building may be modifed, added on to, subtracted from or otherwise acted upon in any way you see fit.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Q: Can we change the elevation of Canal Street?

Per the competition brief, the segment of Canal Street between Adams and Jackson must be maintained. As long as the current traffic flow remains, the elevation may change.

Q: Can we change the elevation of the tracks?

Please use the levels as indicated on the drawing file "Competition Plan_Concourse Level_Track Reconfiguration.dwg".

Q: How are the first tracks on the far west side accessed?

The tracks on the far west side are accessed from the west, directly from the current concourse level. The platform, which we below name "Platform 0" was not labeled in the drawing file. Please note the below clarification to the drawing file "Competition Plan_Concourse Level_Track Reconfiguration.dwg":

Q: Can the new track platform arrangement be redesigned?

Please use the track configuration per the drawing file in the competition downloads section of the competition website.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

REMINDER: Q&A Period Closes Sept 15, 2008.

Please submit any remaining questions before next Monday, the 15th of September.

Q: If 3 tracks are to be used for commuter rail, should it be assumed that those tracks may be in the current terminal-type configuration?

No. Please use the reconfigured track arrangement per the drawing file named:

Competition Plan_Concourse Level_Track

This file is enclosed in the .zip file named "Drawing Files" on the Competition Downloads section of the Competition site.

Based on our conversations with rail planners in Chicago, this competition assumes a massive re-organization of rail--both high-speed intercity and commuter--that would likely result in a redistribution of commuter lines among the four existing downtown rail stations: Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center, Millennium Station, and La Salle Street Station.

You should assume that the Concourse Level Track Plan is sufficient for the Intercity High Speed Rail and redistributed Commuter Rail loads.

In short: please use the provided drawing. As noted in the brief, this competition is about much more than the resolution of an element of infrastructure, and this is why we have provided you with a common plan for rail organization.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Q: Can we change the outside and internal shape of the building of the existing railway station?

Yes. You may make whatever changes to the existing building you feel are necessary and appropriate for your scheme.

Q: Would this ideas competition replace the mixed-use tower atop Union Station? Is the space on top of Union Station available?

Yes, the space on top of the existing Union Station is available. This competition is unrelated to the proposal for a tower atop the existing building.


Union Station Upper Level Plans are now available on "download materials" secion of the competition web page:


Q: Can I use metric measures instead of imperial measure in final submission sheet?

Please see the competition brief. Final plans, sections, and elevations should be at 1/64"=1'-0".

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Q: There is an adjacent lot with a parking structure. May we assume that the rest of that lot may be used for parking?

Entries should satisfy the program as it appears the brief.

Comparable facilities recently completed or currently under construction in Spain, France, the UK, and elsewhere include parking for up to 4,000 cars.

As the West Loop continues to densify, and as the land around Union Station becomes more valuable, it is unrealistic to expect that existing surface parking and parking garages -- created when the West Loop was less desirable -- will continue to be available for parking for Union Station. As has been happening throughout the city, these lots will most likely be dedicated to more profitable uses.

It is therefore imperative that Union Station have its own parking to deal with an annual passenger load roughly equal to New York's JFK airport.

Q: Can you confirm the dimensions of the column grid for the building immediately adjacent to Union Station ?

Please use the drawings on the competition website for all dimensional information.

Q: North and south of the concourse there are buildings and column grids. Do these interfere with the platforms?

For the purposes of this competition, you may assume no conflicts exist.

Q: Are drawings available for the level underneath the great hall and concourse?

We have no further information about the sub-basement level. It was originally used as a service level.

As this is an ideas competition, please make whatever reasonable assumptions about this level you feel support your idea.

Q: Can you provide more detailed plans (concourse, lobby and typical office floor) of the building immediately to the east of Union Station?

All available information about the neighboring building has been posted on the competition website.
Please note that the existing building at this location need not be maintained.

As this is an ideas competition, please make whatever asssumptions you feel are reasonable based on the information given.

Q: Just to confirm, the entire SF of the Union Station / Great Hall is available as program area? i.e. The Great Hall can be counted as Waiting Room?

That's correct.

Q: Why aren't office and residetial functions included in the program ( as they are on http://www.chicagounionstation.com/future_plans_2.html ) ?

This competition is unrelated to the proposal made at the above link.

Q: Which parts of the existing building should be maintained? Should I preserve the elevations, the construction, the interior or any other parts?

As this is an ideas competition, you may alter--or leave untouched--any and all parts of the existing building as you see fit. Per the brief, the existing building must be "maintained". You are free to define the term "maintained" as it suits your understanding of the project and your goals.