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Chicago’s new Washington-Wabash ‘L’ station officially opens in the Loop

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The Calatrava-esque project is the Loop’s first new CTA station in 20 years


This morning, after two years of construction and a total cost of roughly $75 million, Chicago’s brand new Washington-Wabash elevated station was officially deemed opened by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials. The Loop’s first new ‘L’ stop in 20 years, the 425-foot-long Jeweler’s Row terminal is meant to act as a gateway to downtown’s Millennium Park—the state’s most popular tourist attraction. The Chicago Transit Authority estimates that the new station, which services the CTA’s Brown, Purple, Orange, Green, and Pink lines, will see a total of 13,000 riders per day.

Despite inconveniencing Loop traffic and businesses along Wabash Avenue, the tricky project was completed without major interruptions to CTA service. Workers overhauled existing transit infrastructure—some dating as far back as 1897—while also widening platforms, adding LED lighting, and ensuring the stop would be ADA compliant.

Designed by architecture and engineering firm EXP, the Washington-Wabash station features a glassy canopy supported by white, skeleton-like spines reminiscent of the work of globally renown starchitect Santiago Calatrava. Though the likeness is impossible to deny, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin argues that the result is more of “an authentic blend of form and function” than a contrived knock-off of Caltrava’s signature style.