Solana Beach Station

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Sketch by Rob Quigley

Designed in the early 90s, when transit-oriented development was nascent in California, Rob Wellington Quigley’s Solana Beach Rail Station packs a significant civic punch.

The station building is essentially a single arched room, whose barrel vault roof is inspired by nearby WWII-era Quonset Hut sheds, now an arts and design district.

Although inspired by an off-the-shelf building type, nothing in the train station is typical – every corner and joint is a customized detail and seating is cast concrete. Nonetheless, despite some minor maintenance issues, it has aged remarkably well.

After walking through the small waiting room, one must descend by either an elevator, an extensive series of concrete switch back ramps or stairs into a trench to reach the actual train platforms. Strangely, the station building sits above, and removed from, the rail platform and the extensive vertical circulation systems that access the platform.

The station would be far more meaningful if the building crossed the canyon created by the train trench, and if the arched structure literally served as the bridge. One presumes some arcane regulation prevented this possibility, and robbed Solana Beach of an even more powerful and symbolic architecture.

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Photo by Jim McGinn

That said, in part because it is so over designed and in part because of satisfying tower element facing the street, Quigley’s small building conveys a confident and remarkable civic presence.

Solana Beach Transit Station, Rob Wellington Quiqley Architects, Solana Beach CA 1995

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