The Northeast takes understandable pride in its heritage, but the transportation facilities may seem to be from another era. Hence, the need to preserve the former while updating the latter, and that’s a task often entrusted to Arnold “Mickey” Krockmalnic, one of three principals at DHK Architects in Boston and the point man for transportation projects.
When his services are summoned, there may be little rest for the Romanian-born architect.
Krockmalnic remembers how, when on vacation overseas a few years ago, he got a call from the owner of an ambulance company next to the commuter bus station and parking garage complex that he was designing in Norwich, Connecticut. That community—“the Rose of New England,” as it’s called—is noted for aesthetics, and the caller, a since-deceased Italian gentleman much involved in the community, just had to emphasize the need for a neo-classical appearance to a transit facility that wasn’t even supposed to look like one.
Others were weighing in as well; although Krockmalnic’s involvement there went back to 2005 with the ground broken in 2010, the project had actually been hashed around since 1995 with various mayors and city councils expressing their sentiments, while a parade of congressional delegations pursued federal funding for most of what would be a $22 million facility.
Flash-forward to the summer of 2012 when the ribbon was cut at the new Norwich Transportation Center and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, instrumental in securing monies from Washington, spoke for many: “This will be a heart-pumping lifeblood economically, culturally and socially for all of this region.”
And that heart was indeed beating inside Italian-style architecture rich with graceful stone arches over curved windows. This combination of traditional design with modern technology garnered local acclaim and should ensure low maintenance, a look of permanence and the enabling of another structure for access to rail and ferry service.
No easy rider
“That was one long project,” remembers Krockmalnic, adding that however vital, aesthetics weren’t the sole concern. The facility was built on the fragile Hollyhock Island on the Yantic River, one of several waterways that flow through Norwich en route to Long Island Sound, and the cause of a high water table.
“The foundation was a major challenge,” he says. “Another was the entrance and exit from the roadway, but first and foremost was the architectural design had to look like a neo-classical structure and not like there was a parking garage above. And because it was on an island, it was very visible.”
Not just about looks
Aesthetics aren’t always the primary issue. About an hour south of Norwich, in New Haven, with Krockmalnic at the forefront, DHK Architects is designing a $220 million train-maintenance facility on a 1,600-acre rail yard that’s expected to open this year.
Here, a modern, functional look is taking shape for a massive building that will serve the Metro-North Commuter Railroad linking Connecticut communities to New York City. Aside from an enormous maintenance floor with everything necessary to keep the trains humming, there will be offices, a cafeteria and even a Metro-North police station complete with holding cells.
“The Connecticut DOT has a lot at stake here, because you don’t spend $220 million carelessly,” says Krockmalnic.
Extensive experience in numerous mass-transit facilities in the Northeast and Washington, D.C., helped prepare DHK for such a large project as in New Haven, Krockmalnic says.
DHK’s Boston base won’t preclude it from aiding Yankees fans.
As any Red Sox fan knows, driving to and from Fenway Park can be more agonizing than a postseason loss, and DHK at least helped ease the off-field ordeal by working with Walsh Construction in designing Yawkey Station, a commuter rail station named after the late, legendary team owner, Tom Yawkey.
Opening in 2014 and laying the groundwork for what could be an ambitious mixed-use development involving air rights over the Mass Pike, the public-private initiative brings fans to within walking distance of the venerable old ballpark and the many other attractions in and around Kenmore Square, sparing them the high cost of parking and the postgame demolition-derby scenes in the lots.
Being Boston based, anything Red Sox-related is bound to garner a company the public’s good graces. When the Ted Williams Tunnel opened in 1995, linking the Mass Pike to Logan International Airport via a 1.6-mile structure under Boston Harbor, DHK did the architectural work. Krockmalnic will never forget the opening ceremonies when then-Gov. William Weld drove in on a cart with the Splendid Splinter himself.
DHK’s Boston base won’t preclude it from aiding Yankees fans. When the old House That Ruth Built was replaced by a new Yankee Stadium, Krockmalnic worked with Shaw Group Engineers and Halmar International/CCA Civil contractors for a spacious, modern Metro-North station in the Bronx.
Krockmalnic’s other transit work includes contributions to the updates of Boston’s historic South Station; New York City’s Grand Central Station; Washington, D.C.’s Union Station; and the Martha’s Vineyard ferry terminal.
Though best noted for his work in transportation, Krockmalnic is also involved in a very different project on the highest peak of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Erected in the early 1930s in honor of World War I soldiers, the 93-foot Veterans War Memorial Tower, atop Mount Greylock, closed in 2013, as time and the elements deteriorated the 93-foot structure whose beacon could be seen from 70 miles. A $2.6 million restoration is underway, with Krockmalnic as lead consultant.
“It’s a satisfying project, honoring the heroes of a long-ago war,” says Krockmalnic, who sees architecture as a mission; something that will long outlive the man or woman who designed a structure. It’s a sentiment he says is shared by the other partners at DHK: Fernando Domenech Jr. and Alberto Cárdenas.
After all, the firm’s specialties of mostly serving public entities that operate mass transit and nonprofits that develop affordable housing, have profound implications for the public. So if Krockmalnic gets that odd phone call from a citizen concerned about the appearance of a building—well that’s OK, too. Even when he’s on vacation.
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