Designing a 15,000 Passenger per Day Bus Transit Center in the Heart of Denver

Challenge

Civic Center Station is one of the City of Denver’s busiest bus transit centers, covering 18 routes and accommodating over 15,000 passengers each day. The station has been a downtown fixture since 1978, but in recent years began showing its age in capacity, functionality and aesthetic. The challenges with the seven-bay facility originated with its design; built as staple for the City’s pedestrian-focused 16th Street Mall (featuring 42 outdoor cafés and as many retail shops), the two-level station was located at a sloped, landscaped site on top of a single-level underground parking garage and directly adjacent to a 20-story office building. The seven-bay facility’s original design (1978) limited transit capacity and restricted visibility within and around the sides – which led to safety issues.   

Because of the costs it would require to repair, the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) instead sought a full renovation. Ultimately, the RTD's goal was to create a more efficient, welcoming venue design that would overcome form and function shortcomings, add significant efficiency and capacity as the City’s transit network expands, and enable the hub to continue playing a prominent role in the multimodal transit system for decades to come. 

Solution

The $30 million project involved the demolition of the existing bus terminal as well as the design and construction of a new transit station, one of the largest in Colorado. The SEH design team, in collaboration with Perkins Eastman Architects included architects, surveyors, civil engineers and traffic engineers; collectively undertaking engineering and architectural design. The SEH team designed a new street level plaza above a nine-gate bus terminal to provide additional bus capacity as well as a ticketing and queueing area. The team also redesigned the pedestrian concourse and a number of RTD facilities including ticketing, maintenance and restrooms. ADA accessibility improvements were integrated throughout the design.

Additional features of the project design included a 12,000 square foot passenger terminal, with 66 micropiles (serving to “stitch” the soil together) integrated into the parking garage foundation below to accommodate a new connecting elevator and stair core. The foundation improvements also support the station’s enhanced structural system to incorporate the bus concourse and a cast-in-place connecting ramp up to the street level. The station’s main level now facilitates greater and more efficient bus movement to and from the station. In addition, the outmoded isolation slab at the station’s bus entrance adjacent to the high rise was replaced with an 8 inch thick, floating concrete slab resting on neoprene pucks instead of the original springs to provide a more reliable dampening effect.

Covering the station is its one of its most noteworthy design elements – a 500 foot long, polyester-fabric canopy. Fabricated with internal illumination, the canopy is supported by 15-30 foot tall structural steel columns weighing around 4,000 pounds and anchored into structural concrete grade-beam footings. Along with giving the station a new identity, the canopy complements the redesigned stairway which leads to a multipurpose plaza on the Civic Center Station’s rooftop. By designing a lowered profile, the finished product has restored views of the City Capitol Building directly behind the Station.

Related Content: The Past, Present and Future of Transit

Features

  • 81,500 sq. ft. parking garage renovation
  • 8,800 sq. ft. passenger terminal
  • 9-gate bus station
  • 19,000 sq. ft. public plaza
  • ADA accessibility improvements
  • Multiple polyester-fabric canopies up to 500 ft. in length

Awards

2018 Best Project Winner Colorado/Wyoming/Dakotas, Airport/Transit | Engineering News-Record (ENR)

Project
Denver RTD Civic Center Station

Client
RTD, Denver

Services
Architecture
Interior design
Civil engineering
Survey
Traffic engineering
Transportation planning