- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 6, 2009

Washington has opened its first parking garage for bicycles, an ultra-cool pavilion on the west side of Union Station near the Metro entrance.

Clad in steel and glass, the arcing structure injects a welcome dose of contemporary design into the space between architect Daniel Burnham’s beaux-arts train terminal and his post office, now home to the National Postal Museum. Its transparent, metal-rimmed shell suggests a helmet or part of a spoked bike wheel.

“We wanted to build a non-building, a streamlined contrast to Union Station,” says architect Donald Paine of District-based KGP Design Studios. While the bike garage doesn’t have a conventional roof or walls, its shallow vault relates to the arched ceiling over Union Station’s train room.

The bent top of the 120-foot-long structure is formed from three steel tubes rising from concrete blocks at both ends. On the west side, the laminated glass is divided by vertical steel fins to shade the structure from the sun.

Overlapping panes on the east side act like louvers to allow air circulation through the building. A ceramic frit pattern covers the glass to reduce solar heat gain.

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Inside, the pavilion houses about 130 bike-rack spaces and a small store for cycling gear, repairs and rentals. Parking inside the building costs $2 a day or $116 for an annual membership (go to www.bikestation.com to register); about 40 free spaces are available in outdoor racks.

Development of the station was helped by Mobis Transportation/Bikestation, a Long Beach, Calif., company responsible for similar bike garages on the West Coast. Funding for the $4-million pavilion and site improvements came from the District Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

The only one of its kind on the East Coast, the station allows commuters to ride Metro or other trains, pick up their bikes in the garage and ride them to and from work and other destinations.

“It more than triples the amount of bike parking at Union Station,” says Jim Sebastian of the District Department of Transportation. “It fits in with our overall goal of sustainable transportation in helping to reduce congestion and pollution by reducing the need for cars and roads.”

Deborah K. Dietsch

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