Express Rail Comes To Florida And Miraculously The Stations Don’t Look Like Crap

All Aboard Florida, a private-sector project to link major southern Florida cities with express rail service, just unveiled the design for its first station, a major transportation hub designed by SOM in the heart of downtown Miami.

All Aboard Florida plans to have a new 235-mile network of passenger railways up and running by late 2016. The express service would connect Miami and Orlando in under three hours (a trip that currently takes about three and a half hours by car), with SOM-designed stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach as well.

SOM’s Miami station, placed on a dense downtown block, features elevated the rail lines 50 feet above the ground, allowing retail space that opens up to the street underneath. The soaring tracks won’t disrupt the through-street traffic underneath, and serve as a distinct architectural flourish.

The glassy new station, which SOM says will have a “shimmering” (read: potentially blinding) quality, will also house offices, restaurants, and shopping, will also connect to Miami’s existing public transportation network. The architecture firm calls it “a landmark terminal–a symbol of a 21st-century Miami.”

Whether it will be a transformative piece of urban infrastructure–joining the ranks of landmark terminals–remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s a badly needed investment in transportation for a region that’s been listed as one of the worst urban areas for road congestion in the U.S. An Amtrak ride from Miami to Orlando currently takes five to seven hours. It’s definitely a place that could use a little transpo-shimmer.

*The headline of this story originally labeled All Aboard Florida a commuter rail. It’s actually an express rail. We regret the error. SF