In a country where the automobile dominates, local authorities have long recognised that the best way to encourage people to leave the car at home is to provide great public transport alternatives.
But such alternatives require extensive planning, and for Orange County, it is only now that a key initiative has finally come to fruition.
The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) is the new heart of the county's transportation system, providing easy transfer and connectivity between numerous large venues and destinations, including the Angel's Stadium, Disneyland, The Honda Center and the Anaheim Convention Center.
For the team commissioned to design the transit station a collaboration between Parsons Brinkerhoff and HOK the project provided an opportunity to create a new landmark that would announce its presence with a strong architectural statement. HOK design principal Ernest Cirangle says this was precisely what the City of Anaheim required.
"There was an existing station 1000m down the line, but it was very modest, and essentially just two platforms at the side of the tracks," he says.
"The city wanted to replace this with an iconic building that would make a statement about the future of rail and public transport, not just for the city, but for the whole of Southern California and in a way for the entire nation," he says. "The city wanted to be at the forefront of this change, and the new centre needed to energise the move towards a 21st-century rail network."
Cirangle says there were two key historical influences that helped to inspire the design.
"The grand old rail stations in the United States and Europe, including Grand Central and Penn Station in New York were definite influences. So too were the great hangars that were used to house blimps in the post-World War II era. These were simple, long-span structures with great interior spaces. Their appeal lay in their simplicity and their clarity. We envisaged a contemporary version of this form that would not only reference traditional rail stations, but also take advantage of the great natural light in Southern California."