Case Precedent: Chicago CTA North and Clybourn Red Line

The North and Clybourn stop is interesting in the context of Project Division for two reasons. One, it is an example of CTA station design in a gentrified neighborhood. (The Division area appears to be in the early stages of gentrification.) Two, it demonstrates how corporate donations influence design decisions. Above is a picture of the station before the renovation.

Apple is opening a store next to the station and has contributed $4 million to the CTA’s rehabilitation of the North and Clybourn station. According to Architecture Chicago,

In exchange for being able to repave the area east of the bus turnaround that is now the new store’s plaza, Apple is kicking in nearly $4 million towards the rehab of the station, now serving 4,500 passengers a day.  $2,100,000 is going directly to the CTA to update the interiors. Apparently being informed of how things can actually work in Chicago, Apple claimed the rights to rehab the exterior of the station – the part in immediately vicinity to their gleeming new outpost – for themselves, allocating another $1.8 million to the task.  Much of the original character of the station has been stripped away along with the grime.  The original  mottled brick that gave the building a subtle polychromatic accent has been completely replaced with bricks of monochrome buff.  The geometric grid-paned windows have been supplanted with something much more contemporary – and generic, the major feature being top transoms that should aid natural ventilation.   The former curving entrance along the west is now choppily angled.  It’s a much brighter, much blander building.

The station is still undergoing renovation. The interior hasn’t changed much. The exterior appears very low-key in the context of a neighborhood that houses CB2, Sur La Table, and other higher-end retail stores. It pales in visibility when compared to the massive Apple store next door. Was this coordinated with Apple because of their funding?

The following is a gallery of interior photographs at the North and Clybourn station.

The decor and furniture are quite dated. Why is there an empty phone booth in the station? Should the recycling bin do a better job of housing its contents to avoid accidental spillage onto the tracks?

The entrance is hidden off to the side during construction. Once inside, a new passenger needs to,

1. Purchase a ticket directly ahead of the door
2. Walk back towards to entrance to check a map indicating direction of travel
3. Insert their ticket to pass the turnstiles
4. Descend the first set of stairs
5. Remember the correct direction to choose which second set of stairs to descend
6. Approach the platform and wait for the train

Text signs formed with black tiles indicate the train direction and platform. Once past the turnstiles, the passenger has no way of checking which direction will bring him to his destination until he boards the train and looks at the sign above the door. An obvious solution would be to place the same single line map at the point of decision between which stairs to descend and at the boarding platform below the station name signs.

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