Magic City Station
The concept for this entry has three parts. First, the facility will evoke images of the history of railroad transportation. Secondly, the space will be an exciting entertainment venue. Finally, the complex will be environmentally responsible.
The design for the new Magic City Station is a large building that reflects the character and shape of a railroad station. The visually striking part of the Magic City Station is the curved atrium ceiling which is more than 100 feet wide and 400 feet long. Flanking the atrium are retail shops, restaurants, and cafes that reflect the general shape and layout of a line of railroad cars. Not literal railroad cars, just symbolic references to them.
The curved ceiling doubles as a screen for a state-of-the-art, digitally controlled, LED light display and sound system. The inspiration for this system is the Freemont Street Experience in Las Vegas. The ends of the Magic City Station will be transparent so that the show could even be seen while at the Railroad Park. This would be achieved by the use of butt-glazed glass with structural glass vertical supports. The bottom 8 feet of this glass wall would be open so that pedestrians can just walk from the Railroad Park into the atrium without having to maneuver a door. This break in the thermal comfort of the atrium space would be minimized by the use of a powerful air curtain which would keep the conditioned air inside. Individual shops and restaurants would have their own conditioned spaces.
Although the concept of a state-of-the-art visual and audio extravaganza and a covered mall is not new, combining them together is rather unique; however, what will be distinctive is the way this complex will operate. The intent is to take that same state-of-the-art audio visual technology that is used to produce the sound and light show and carry it into the realm of energy production. Solar photovoltaic panels on the roof will harness energy for the building. Flexibility and expandability in energy-efficient systems will be key. The Magic City Station will be engineered so that in the future more efficient energy harnessing systems can replace or upgrade the outdated ones. The goal is that by the year 2030 this facility will be carbon neutral, that is, no fossil fuel greenhouse gas emitting energy will be used to operate this building. It may not start out that way, but that will be the goal by 2030. That will truly be a magical experience.
|THE COOL FACTOR
Imagine this state-of-the-art LED and sound entertainment system towering over the huge gathering space in the Magic City Station. When the system cranks up, excitement and energy will fill the air! The 'Cool Factor' is off the scale! Because of its themed shops & restaurants, this covered, but open, space will be a worthwhile stop for visitors even when the LED entertainment system is not running. However, when the system is operating this will be the 'COOLEST' attraction in the southeast. Just as the McWane Center and Imax has brought local people back downtown, the attraction of the Magic City Station will continue the flow. Additionally, the venue will attract visitors from across the nation and around the world, and will improve the national and international image of Birmingham. We really want the shows to impress the visitor and help improve the image of not just Birmingham, but the Southeast.
With all the power being used to operate this facility wouldn't it be 'cool' to have it from renewable resources? There will be a photovoltaic solar panel system on the flat roof at the clerestory windows, flanking the curved roof, which would provide power. Using sustainable design strategies this facility would take on The 2030 Challenge which is to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The goal would be to have no fossil fuel greenhouse gas emitting energy to operate this building by the year 2030.
The Magic City Station would be 'cool' on several levels.
This atrium space with curved roof of the Magic City Station would be the ultimate passageway between Railroad Park and the Sloss Corridor. It would look like a big railroad station at the end of the Railroad Park and, as an actual station does, it would function as a transition space. It would serve as a resting place along the journey, a refuge from the weather, an opportunity to visit a restroom, a chance to get something to eat, or just a place to rest from the heat for a few minutes. In addition, the form and detailing of the building would reference the railroad transportation system. The building would take design cues from the railroad station building type and the shops on the inside would be similar to railroad cars. However, this is a contemporary, futuristic place so the resemblance would be symbolic, not literal. The high tech light shows, displays, expos, and retail activities would be designed to educate, excite and create interest in the city, state, and Southeast's heritage. The possibilities are endless, but the shows could include themes such as: history of railroads in the Southeast, futuristic transportation, Birmingham's steel industry, civil rights, medicine, banking, music, athletics, and natural monuments of the Southeast. Each month or some other frequency there would be a different theme that is showcased. The venue would both honor the past, but show the future of the South in a favorable light within a united Birmingham.
Earned income for Railroad Park could be realized from leasing the retail space in the Magic City Station. This will generate income not only for Railroad Park, but also for the merchants of the greater area via spending by visitors for hotel accommodations, eating and shopping.
Because of the use of sustainable design techniques the utility bills for the Magic City Station will be much less than a typical building of its size. Thus the operating costs would be less making the long-term success of this facility more feasible.
Good restaurants and shopping are sufficient to repeatedly draw visitors to a site, but the LED light show will transform a pleasant dining or shopping experience into a high energy and exciting event that will be memorable. The possible themes for the light shows are almost limitless. They could easily be changed often and include special shows for the holidays, or special events. They could be changed out monthly to draw a new audience each month. They could focus on the city, state, and features unique to the Southeast. The shows will be awe inspiring, patriotic, uplifting, and exciting events that everyone will enjoy and want to see again. The energy of the space alone would be a draw. The covered area and retail space will be a big attraction to people visiting the park. The Magic City Station will draw people to the Railroad Park, and the Railroad Park will draw people to the Magic City Station. People will want to come, and then they will want to come back.
Truly people of all races and backgrounds, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, will enjoy the shows which can easily be designed to appeal to diverse audiences or to targeted groups for special occasions. The Magic City Station will be an entertainment destination for everyone in the area as well as out of town visitors. It has the potential to unite diverse audiences through the shared enjoyable experience. Perhaps more importantly, the shows have the potential to present an exciting and improved image of Birmingham and the Southeast to the world and in doing so can unite the people of the region with a positive image of our community.
The sustainable design systems would be something of interest to many people and would show that, contrary to some popular beliefs, the South does care about the stewardship of their resources. It might even garner some more respect from the other parts of the country where resources are scarce. Everyone benefits when resources are used wisely. Overall, the Magic City Station would be a place where three diverging concepts: history, exciting entertainment and environmental responsibility live together in harmony.