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Purple Line stations will range from simple to iconic

As Maryland moves forward with planning for the Purple Line, station designs are being released. They range from simple sidewalk shelters at the smaller stations to landmark aerial cylinders at Silver Spring and Riverdale Park. Here are 6 renderings, illustrating the range of designs.

Bethesda, in a subway.

Silver Spring, elevated.

Langley Park, at-grade.

Riverdale Park, elevated.

Typical at-grade side station.

Typical at-grade center station.

More graphics are available at

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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Will the Silver Spring station be integrated with the Silver Spring transit center that seems to be forever under construction?

by Ben on Apr 5, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Any renderings for the New Carrolton stop?

by ceefer66 on Apr 5, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

Thank you for the update. I of course read the title as "Purple Line stations will range from simple to ironic".

by Elena on Apr 5, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

All I see is overhead wires, is there something else in the pictures?

by Steve S. on Apr 5, 2013 1:01 pm • linkreport

The new purple line will help to ensure that the SP transit center is under construction for the next decade.

The NC station will have the tracks parallel to the Amtrak and metro lines as will college park.

by Richard Bourne on Apr 5, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

MTA is releasing station designs one at a time. There aren't any renderings for New Carrollton yet, but presumably there will be.

by BeyondDC on Apr 5, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@Richard Bourne:

You joke about this but this would have to be among the biggest transportation failures if they are separate facilities and didn't coordinate the construction and financing of them.

by Ben on Apr 5, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport


The transit center was designed to accommodate the purple line, or so we've been told in dozens of other articles and press releases. I'm not sure how, but i'd imagine it has something to do with the top level of the transit center.

by Gull on Apr 5, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

Ben, Maryland MTA has planned the Silver Spring Purple Line Station to be adjacent to but not a structural part of the oft-delayed transit center. Constructing the Purple Line is little affected by the problems at the transit center.

The rederings here depict a sheltered elevated station that's parallel to the existing Metro station and between the Metro/MARC/CSX viaduct and the transit center.

by Cavan on Apr 5, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Gonna say it: These are all pretty ugly, and won't age well at all. The Silver Spring station in particular seems insane in its scale and complexity, while the others look like MTA permanently intends them to function as Park&Ride stations.

They can do better.

by andrew on Apr 5, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

Having been to the neighborhood work groups, I can say that their station architects are working to make the stations fit in with the existing Metro system. The MTA sees the Purple Line as part of the Washington area transit system, regardless of who ends up operating it. The stations all look like scaled down Metro stations, with local specific details that take into account topography and immediate viewsheds.

by Cavan on Apr 5, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Hopefully the Silver Spring transit center will serve as a model.

by Chris S. on Apr 5, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

Over/under on how much each station will cost? I bet it will be a lot more than $1 million per.

BRT creep is lame.

by H St LL on Apr 5, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Most of the silver spring station is actually not part of the purple line. Because of the urban nature the platform for the train had to be above the street and buildings, thus the height and the wind screen. The mezzanine is just a bridge to allow one access to the station from either side of the street without climbing a lot of stairs. The capital crescent trail is a bike path paralleling the purple line through silver spring. The rest of the structure is part of the Montgomery county SS transit center, which is massively expensive and complicated, at no fault of the MTA.

by Richard Bourne on Apr 5, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

The SS station is impressive (80 ft above the ground!), but the cylindrical design is too cold. Why not something with more glass or transparency? They could also go even further bu giving it a uniquely appealing iconic look since it will be the most visible piece of architecture in downtown SS by far.

In addition to the Riverdale and SS stations, the Chevy Chase Lake station will also be elevated (partially over Connecticut Ave IIRC), but will probably go through 101 redesigns because of the deranged NIMBY's in the area that have been foaming at the mouth ever since the line was first announced.

by King Terrapin on Apr 5, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

The renderings linked by Cavan are pretty cool. Given the Metro is already elevated there -- and is a singularly ugly structure, the Purple LIne Station looks like a it would be a welcome addition to the view down Colesville Rd. Running the bike trail up there will make for a tough climb, but the view will be great...perhaps much like the access to the path across the George Washington Bridge -- it's a climb, but well worth the ride. The vistas won't be so grand here, but will still be a neat way to transit through downtown SS...both by rail and bike.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 5, 2013 6:22 pm • linkreport

As for the complaint about "Park and RIde" -- there will, no doubt, be some of that. There will be a need for some of that, as most riders would not be in walking distance. Seems fine by me. Otherwise, it's gonna be seriously underutilized.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 5, 2013 6:24 pm • linkreport

As for the complaint about "Park and RIde" -- there will, no doubt, be some of that. There will be a need for some of that, as most riders would not be in walking distance.
What are you talking about? This line specifically goes through dense, transit-friendly areas. People who aren't walking to the stations are going to be driving to the outer metro stations, not driving to light rail stations.

by Gray on Apr 5, 2013 8:10 pm • linkreport

All the stations would look much better underground.

by Chris S. on Apr 5, 2013 8:13 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure what the focus group was thinking when it selected the location for the Langley Park transit center, but that location right on the corner pretty much destroys any chance of that intersection becoming pedestrian friendly for the foreseeable future.

Not that it's any worse than the current "strip malls to the horizon" quality of the intersection at present. It's just that the MTA proposal represents no improvement, and will lock in the feel of a large highway truck stop for a long time.

Agree with andrew that the Silver Spring station is insanely complicated. I understand why it's designed that way, but that doesn't make it good.

by Laurence Aurbach on Apr 5, 2013 11:20 pm • linkreport

I would prefer a more solid roof for the at-grade stops. I don't live on the route, but I personally would want more shade. I love glass, but I don't like glass panels in that type of configuration. Same complaint about Arl's $1m bus stop.

by spookiness on Apr 5, 2013 11:45 pm • linkreport

Yum Foods is gonna have a ball with the Langley Park station wonder how much they will charge for the site ?

by kk on Apr 6, 2013 1:53 am • linkreport

@Gray -- you might be correct about the dynamic of heavy rail vs. light rail-- but it's worth noting that the Purple Line will also make it possible to go stations without Metro access and also make for a much simpler trip between points that lie on different ends or on different Metro lines. There will be those who live more than a mile from a station would want to use the Purple Line instead of Metro, if there was a way to get to it.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 6, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Many of us are still hoping that the Bethesda Station will be designed so as to include room for the Capital Crescent Trail, which has been in that space for more than 10 years. The County and State are sponsoring a flurry of meetings and conversations about an alternative on-street route across Wisconsin Avenue, nobody has been able to come up with a design that even comes close to protecting and properly serving cyclists, runners, walkers, wheelchair users and others. Not to mention what an on-street crossing like that would do to auto and bus traffic on Wisconsin. While an engineering solution to the trail-and-rail tunnel would not be cheap, many of us feel it would be worth it for everyone.

by Peter Harnik on Apr 6, 2013 6:53 pm • linkreport

It would be nice if there where more commonalties amongst the various stations, a way of branding the purple line the way DC's Metro stations have. I'll take it anyway it comes though. Driving today on the Beltway just reminded me how sorely this line is needed. Inner beltway was a parking lot at 11:00am, mean while the inner county connector is still under used. Way to go, Ohio.

by Thayer-D on Apr 6, 2013 9:16 pm • linkreport


If I recall correctly, in 1979 you wrote an op-ed in the Post proposing on-street bike lanes on 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown DC, both of which have now come to fruition.

These are both busy streets that carry a lot of car traffic and cross other busy streets that carry even more car traffic, yet bicyclists and cars are able to coexist on them. They even have wide, generous sidewalks that are comfortable for pedestrians and runners (more so on Pennsylvania Avenue, I admit) and are accessible to the disabled.

If you thought this was a good idea in downtown DC, why isn't it a good idea in downtown Bethesda? Not only are there substantial benefits to bringing bicyclists and pedestrians up to the street, but it helps conserve money to extend the Capital Crescent Trail to Silver Spring, which doesn't exist in any form today.

Bethesda doesn't lose anything if the CCT becomes a cycle track and some wider sidewalks for a few blocks, as MoCo planners have proposed. But if we insist on keeping it in the tunnel at great cost to make a few people happy, everybody in Silver Spring won't get a trail at all.

by dan reed! on Apr 6, 2013 9:27 pm • linkreport

I agree with Thayer-D. The stations should have a common theme. The variety of different designs is ridiculous. A common theme would help the brand of the purple line, efficiency of design and construction, and reduce cost of maintenance after the stations are built.

by Matthew on Apr 7, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

Oh, I also agree that the SS Station is almost *necessarily* complicated, but the renderings make it look as though every transfer is going to be as convoluted and painful as is humanly possible.

As a crazy suggestion, would it just be possible to double-deck the Purple Line station directly on top of the existing Red Line station? Building the thing would be a pain and a half, but you'd end up with a much more compact and usable structure. You could even use the same opportunity to actually properly integrate the MARC platforms into the transit hub.

by andrew on Apr 7, 2013 11:59 pm • linkreport

@Andrew, for the Purple Line station at Silver Spring to be placed OVER the Red Line station, the track and station would have to be placed waaaaay above the ground to provide clearance for the CSX tracks and Red Line station. It could be a long elevated track climb. The map shows the Purple Line station parallel to the Metro station with a connecting walkway. The rendering of the proposed Purple Line Silver Spring station don't provide a good view or perspective of how the new station would fit with the current Metro and MARC stations.

As for the stations have a common theme, that should come more at the platform area than from the exterior of the station which is what the renderings show. Maybe they should do for platform tiles with a purple tint. Not solid purple, that would be too much. But take the (new) Metro tiles, add a purple tint to them and use those for the Purple Line stations.

by AlanF on Apr 8, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

This post's layout reminded me of the old "Guess the Location" posts. Whatever happened to those?!

by Ronald on Apr 8, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Agree with Peter Harnick. An at-grade crossing of Wisconsin Avenue will always be a significant downgrade for the CCT in Bethesda, not just in terms of inconvenience, but for public safety.

by renegade09 on Apr 8, 2013 5:13 pm • linkreport

Why should the stations have a common theme when most of the Metrorail stations dont have a common theme. Most of the metrorail stations look completely different from the exterior.

Several of the stations have unique designs on the exterior take Anacostia, Rhode Island Ave, Forest Glen, Minnesota Ave, NOMA, Largo, Morgan Blvd, National Airport, Ft Totten, Takoma, Branch Ave, Hunington, White Flint, Grovesnor, Franconia Springfield, Silver Spring, Bethesda,

When looking at the interior you have Rosslyn/Pentagon, Stadium Armory, Metro Center, Union Station, Congress Heights, NOMA, Largo, Silver Spring.

Plus every station that is not finished on the Silver Line looks different from the exterior and interior compared to other stations by some having 3 floors on outside stations when outside stations typically have 2 plus the use of brick/concrete compared to Rhode Island Ave which is mostly metal/concrete and NOMA/Largo/Morgan Blvd which are mostly glass

by kk on Apr 9, 2013 10:44 pm • linkreport

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