Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 64

n ARCHITECTURE TAHOE CITY TRANSIT CENTER, TAHOE CITY ARCHITECT: WRNS STUDIO / DELIVERY MODEL: DESIGN-BID-BUILD A major tourist destination that welcomes nearly 3 million visitors each year, Lake Tahoe grappled with worsening traf- fic congestion and pollution that has steadily increased since the 1950s and threatens its natural resources and beauty. This made sustainable transportation options a top priority for the lake community. Placer County needed a transpor- tation hub that would alleviate congestion and elevate the experience of taking public transit. The answer: WRNS Stu- dio’s Tahoe City Transit Center, which is a transcendently simple, modern structure that incorporates local and natu- ral materials, and treads lightly on the environment. A restrictive building moratorium limits the window of time to get built work done in Lake Tahoe from late October to the spring thaw. The architects behind the transit center used the downtime to stay ahead of the design process and double back on its detailing and construction. The mantra of treading lightly drove every design decision and the configu- ration of the facility’s footprint. The bus loop was designed with passenger loading on both sides. The site layout incorporated existing trees and established walking and cycling paths. To fit into the natural setting, the center’s horizontal structure is shaped like a boat, with long wooden slats on the underside, hovering among the trees. To emphasize the floating quality, WRNS designed 70 | June 2018 columns and battered walls made from locally sourced Sier- ra stone to support the main canopy, allowing for large, wide apertures and abundant landscape underneath. The waiting area features oversized, operable windows, making the space feel light and open. The civic scale is important, too. “It feels intimate and small in human scale, but is also quite large for a canopy,” says WRNS partner Wright Sherman. “People are arriving in one mode and transferring to another, and while they are doing that, you are creating something that is more than just a bus stop, but a beautiful place in the forest — kind of like a sanctuary.”