A characteristically sunny, warm southern California day, Dec. 6, 2014, marked the public opening of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). A project of the City of Anaheim, in collaboration with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), ARTIC was welcomed as the new transportation gateway to Anaheim and destinations, such as the Anaheim Resort, the Anaheim Convention Center and the Anaheim/Orange County Walk of Stars, as well as two major sports venues, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Honda Center.

Constructed at a cost of $135 million, the 67,000-square-foot ARTIC terminal allows 10,000 daily riders to move seamlessly between transit services that include Amtrak; Metrolink; OCTA; and intercity buses, Megabus.com, Greyhound Bus lines; Anaheim Resort Transit; shuttles, taxis, bikes, and tour and charter buses. In the future, ARTIC could also accommodate 36,000 daily riders on the first phase of the California high-speed rail line and the proposed Anaheim Rapid Connection streetcar system.  ARTIC also provides connections to freeways and major arterial roadways.   

Orange County attracts more than 42 million visitors a year overall — almost 20 million of them to Anaheim. Those figures are expected to increase substantially as new hotels, restaurants, convention space and other visitor services are built in the Anaheim Resort area, and residential, office and commercial development continues in the Platinum Triangle, a former industrial area undergoing high-density, mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD).

Transit centers are inherently challenging to design for high-level sustainability due to their large footprint and volume, and the ARTIC terminal is no exception. Yet, the visionary environmental leadership of the City of Anaheim inspired the integration of innovative technologies and sustainable features into ARTIC’s design, qualifying the project to apply for LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council — one of the few transit centers in the world designed to earn this designation.

Among ARTIC’s most noteworthy sustainable components is its innovative roof structure, which is composed of 200,000 square feet of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushions, forming a transparent, yet highly insulating enclosure system at one-tenth the weight of glass. An interior space cooling system combining a radiant-cooling floor slab with mechanical and natural ventilation, a photovoltaic system to generate electricity, a solar system to produce hot water, and onsite renewable energy and gray-water recycling are designed to yield a 30% to 55% reduction in energy and water use. Working in concert, ARTIC’s sustainable components are projected to result in energy savings that exceed American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning standards by as much as 20%.

Pushing boundaries
From its inception, ARTIC was envisioned as an iconic regional landmark that combines the heritage and civic importance of grand 19th-century rail stations with the structural simplicity of modern airport terminals. To implement that vision, the City of Anaheim retained Parsons Brinckerhoff to provide project management services and lead a team responsible for services, including land-use planning; master planning; terminal programming; urban design; civil, structural, track and geotechnical engineering; architecture and interior architecture; landscape architecture; agency coordination and cost estimating. The design team included HOK, lead architect; BuroHappold Engineering, mechanical/electrical/plumbing and enclosure engineer; and Thornton Tomasetti, structural engineer. Clark Construction was the general contractor. Altogether, the project team included more than 20 firms.

The project team pushed the hard boundaries of traditional design-bid-build procurement, not only in the degree to which it included many stakeholders in its management of the project, but also in delegating design to the contractors and selected manufacturers based on the team’s performance specifications for several key building systems: exterior steel-clad walls; interior walls within open areas of the terminal; ETFE roofing panels; radiant floor slab; and the fire alarm system, which was developed to a building-specific fire code.   

Teamwork and stakeholder involvement were important to solving some of the challenges inherent in a project of this scope and complexity. The terminal, which also serves the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific freight railroads, has the first new passenger platform constructed to accommodate the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) 2011 Americans with Disabilities Act performance standard for level boarding on platforms. A design change after the start of construction was required to raise the standard platform height from eight inches to 15 inches above the rail to meet the FRA performance standard. The process of rebuilding a railroad bridge and lowering a street in a busy urban area required innovative solutions as well. Regulations called for limited time slots during which the regular rail service could be interrupted. As a result, two very intense 52-hour windows over two weekends challenged the team to perform with maximum efficiency, and the bridge was completed on time.

A closer look at sustainability
The ARTIC terminal was designed to meet the City of Anaheim’s innovative sustainability goals, including:

  • Reduce energy consumption by up to 50% through the use of materials and applications that meet or exceed the Title 24 energy-reduction standards of the California Code of Regulations.
  • Reduce potable water consumption by up to 55% through the application of indoor and outdoor water-conservation fixtures and drought-resistant landscaping.
  • Reduce storm water runoff by up to 50% by retaining as much water as feasible on site with minimized off-site overflows.
  • Reduce construction waste by up to 80% and operational waste by up to 75% through recycling.
  • Reduce air emissions by consolidating transit travel modes.
  • Reduce CO2 emissions and green-house-gas emissions in accordance with California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and the state’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008.  

To meet these goals and amass the points required to apply for LEED Platinum certification, the project team integrated a number of sustainable components. Among the most challenging was the extensive use of ETFE cushions on a unique roof geometry.

ETFE cushions provide a highly insulating, yet lightweight enclosure system with a carbon footprint that is approximately 80 times lower than comparable transparent systems. ETFE cushions have a nonporous surface and a low coefficient of friction, which enables the material to resist atmospheric pollution and the build-up of pollutants, dust or dirt particles. In addition, the material is unaffected by ultraviolet light and does not break down, discolor or weaken structurally over time. The material’s strength, its ability to resist impacts and its capacity to accept large deflections make ETFE one of the best materials to withstand extreme weather and earthquakes. Not only does ETFE have a long life expectancy, it is also able to be fully recycled at the end of its use.

While air conditioning is available in some of ARTIC’s retail and commercial spaces, most of the terminal’s public spaces are kept comfortable by a radiant slab that circulates chilled water. In combination with ARTIC’s use of natural ventilation for half the year — operable louvers at various heights draw in cooler air at night and purge hot air during the day — the slab is used during summer months to absorb solar radiation.

A high-efficiency service yard building, located outside the western side of the terminal, houses magnetic-bearing chillers and other technologies for reducing energy consumption as well as all of the terminal’s fans and pumps. The building’s cooling towers are installed inside the walls of the service yard structure to avoid views of the towers from windows in the retail spaces on the west side of the terminal building. A state-of-the-art building management system monitors temperatures, relative humidity and carbon dioxide levels within the terminal. Data are also collected by a weather station located near the track platforms.

The project team integrated a storm water treatment and collection system with vegetated swales and a filtration chamber and a water-retention vault for groundwater recharge and debris containment. A reclaimed water line taps into an existing 66-inch-diameter line to obtain reclaimed water for landscaping, cooling towers, toilets and other non-potable uses.
Approximately 10,000 square feet of photovoltaic cells located on carport canopies in the southern parking areas provide 10% of ARTIC’s electricity.

Key design elements include exterior-steel clad walls; ETFE roofing panels; radiant floor slab; and a fire alarm system developed to a building-specific fire code.

Key design elements include exterior-steel clad walls; ETFE roofing panels; radiant floor slab; and a fire alarm system developed to a building-specific fire code.

A view to revenue generation
F  irst and foremost, ARTIC is a sustainable intermodal transportation center — but it is even more than that. With a 120-foot-high archway that offers views of the surrounding city and the Santa Ana Mountains, the terminal was built for a wide range of amenities, including retail spaces, destination restaurants, ticketing and waiting areas, interior and exterior public plazas, public art, landscaping, electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle amenities and access to the Santa Ana River Trail.

Moreover, the area adjacent to ARTIC is zoned to support four million square feet of office, commercial and institutional development, as well as 520 residential units with the first wave of development comprising approximately 500,000 square feet and 1,600 parking spaces. Future development opportunities include revenue generation to repay local grant funds, public-private partnership opportunities, economic benefits (increased jobs and increased sales-tax revenue), TOD and mixed land-use development.

Virginia Tanzmann, FAIA, LEED AP, is West Region Manager, Architecture and Buildings, in the Los Angeles office of Parsons Brinckerhoff. Samuel Sims, PE, is ARTIC Design Project Manager in Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Orange office.