The neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens, has long served as a crossroads for the greater New York City region.
Once home to an ancient trail, utilized by native tribes from as far away as the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, Jamaica eventually grew into a major trading post for farmers, with the road currently known as Jamaica Avenue called the “King’s Highway.” In 1913, the original Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Jamaica was completed; the elevated “subway” followed 5 years later. Due to its proximity to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the population centers on the north and south shores of Long Island, Jamaica Station became the central transfer point on the LIRR. Today, this nexus is defined by the new, $316-million Jamaica Control Center (JCC)/Vertical Circulation Building (VCB) - known as Jamaica Station - which was developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Collaborating with the Port Authority’s own construction team and overseeing building of the JCC/VCB project was Tishman Construction Corp., which, in a joint venture with Bechtel Infrastructure, served as construction manager to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on this 7-story, 250,000-square-foot interconnecting terminal and office building. Designed by Port Authority architects and engineers, the JCC/VCB is truly inter-modal in nature. Passengers are able to connect in Jamaica with an 8.1-mile AirTrain JFK, 740 daily LIRR trains, three New York City Transit subway lines, and a dozen local bus lines to points across Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
The Jamaica Control Center houses administrative offices for the LIRR and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Police on five floors. The adjoining Vertical Circulation Building comprises the public portion of the terminal. The heart of the passenger portion within the facility is the fourth-floor AirTrain Public Concourse, which features the potential for baggage check-in and ticketing, and connects to the AirTrain platform. The project also includes a mezzanine bridge, having a segmented-arch, barrel-vault “portal” overhead, which links the public concourse to the LIRR and subway lines. The bridge serves a dual function as the new mezzanine for transfers between LIRR platforms and the subway station. The project’s scope also included renovations and improvements to the subway mezzanine level, in addition to the resurfacing of LIRR platforms and renovation of the canopies above.
The first floor of the terminal has a street-level entrance and a vehicular drop-off area; this part of the building opens to a 9-story, 2,000-square-foot glass atrium that connects to the fourth-floor concourse via two glass-and-steel-enclosed elevators, two escalators, and a stairway. The structure was designed to accommodate an additional 10 stories in the future.
The facility also features a global fire-alarm system that monitors the station building, the train platforms, and the mechanical rooms and informational kiosks on those platforms via separate panels that feed into a central panel to alert firefighters to the exact location of a fire.
Since Jamaica is an active train station, much of the construction was performed at night or on the weekends to allow the station to remain in continuous operation throughout the project. For work that needed to be conducted during weekdays (and to allow for the fast-track schedule), selected tracks were shut down through a coordinated effort between the construction team and LIRR’s rail-traffic control.
The vision and efforts among the project team are clearly evident now that the Jamaica Station project is complete. Today, this transportation hub retains its preeminence as both a crossroads and a design destination.
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “This is a model approach to any urban transportation project. An extremely identifiable design, highly visible, environmentally correct in every sense of the word, and, most importantly, pedestrian friendliness makes this a project that can be used as a foundation stone on which to build similar projects.”