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The rhizome, as described by Deleuze and Gauttari in A Thousand Plateaus, “connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states.” Braddock Terminal, located in a Rust-Belt steel city not far from Pittsburgh and envisaged as both a train station and civic museum, embraces the nature of the rhizome as an architectural and urban design strategy.
The terminal reconnects Braddock with its neighboring communities in the greater Pittsburgh area, forging a brighter future for the city and allowing residents and visitors alike a new opportunity to interact with their shared history. Braddock Terminal is designed as one of three primary stations in a metro train system developed for greater Pittsburgh: Point Park Terminal in downtown Pittsburgh anchors the Pre-Industrial line, while Braddock Terminal is the hub for the Industrial Line, and finally the University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon Terminal is the main station for the Post-Industrial Line. These three principal “termini” form the central spine of an extensive public transit system throughout the region, making users aware the various economies, resources, histories, and cultures that have intersected for centuries in the area. The result of this transit system is rhizomatic, developing a noticeable organizational pattern across Pittsburgh, weaving together certain lines at stations that often share history.
The site for the proposed Braddock Terminal was chosen for its unique position as an interlocutor amid the town’s primary commercial street, Braddock Avenue, its train lines serving the US Steel mill, and the mighty Monongahela River. The Terminal attempts to reactivate these former channels of transit, connecting Braddock’s citizens back to its waterfront and downtown. A grid system was developed to stitch this new implanted architecture into the city. The nature of the rhizome is mimicked in a column grid that roots itself into the landscape, shoots up, and curves into connective branches. The structural integrity of the building lies in this system and it is used as a generative element in the architecture. These structural trees bridge the gap between various transit layers, bringing together city, factory, and river. As the one moves from city to river, the regulated system begins to decompose through a series of alluvial berms and finally breaks down at the riverfront, forming tidal pools. The rhizome structural system will be used throughout the metro system as a wayfinder, strategically repeating at city bus stops and other points of interest to create a regional language.
At the entrance of the terminal, a parking lot with bike racks are located in front of the existing train tracks. The terminal is accessed by a hardscape pavement mirroring the dimensions of the structural trees on both sides. A bus stop lies before the entrance to the terminal, where electronic ticketing booths and turnstiles lie inside. The terminal houses a generous atrium space for lounging, as well as a café and the offices for the newly created Greater Pittsburgh Transit Authority. The train platform is located above adjacent to the museum gallery spaces. This allows visitors the unique ability to witness the art and historic items of the Industrial Line’s communities while metro train moves through the terminal. In the tradition of great transit stations before it, Braddock Terminal offers community members and artists such as acclaimed photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier, the ability to tell their story. These spaces are supported by curators’ offices, storage rooms, and meeting areas. As the visitor moves to through the building, the structural trees begin to vary in height and give way to the park landscape, reaffirming the rhizomatic system across the site.