Buildings and Places, Design, Transforming Transit, Transit, Transportation

In this Transforming Transit blog series, we explore the architects of connectivity and mobility, who are driving forward transit design innovations via smarter, more sustainable solutions tailored to meet the evolving needs of our clients and communities alike.

Architect and urbanist Kristopher Takács leads a worldwide team of interdisciplinary professionals who plan, design and deliver passenger facilities, infrastructure and transformative urbanism that shape how people move, connect and thrive.

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture? Additionally, reflecting on your career, what have been the most significant milestones that stand out to you?

I’ve always been drawn to the vital role that architects play in bringing people together, unlocking the collective act of problem solving through design, and fueling mission-driven collaboration. Throughout my career, I’ve been privileged to partner with exceptionally talented leaders who have pushed the boundaries of architecture. Redeveloping Denver Union Station (DUS) in Colorado into a multimodal hub and transit-oriented development is a particular career milestone that stands out.

Since its initial phases opened in 2014, the redevelopment of Denver Union Station has surpassed what community stakeholders envisioned, resulting in an inviting transit-anchored urban center with new office, retail and residential buildings built around the renovated historic rail station. Our work integrated disparate elements, allowing multiple modes of public transportation to converge at new bus, light rail and passenger rail facilities. Delivered through a public-private partnership, the project spurred the creation of an entirely new walkable, transit-integrated urban neighborhood in less than a decade. The success of Denver Union Station has become a global touchstone for large-scale, mixed-use projects — proving that investment in transportation and civic infrastructure catalyzes private development and smart growth.

2. How will you ensure that our transit-oriented projects positively impact the communities they serve, creating spaces that resonate with the public and provide social value? 

The ultimate aspiration for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is not just great transit or successful neighborhood development but both: equitable urbanism that empowers people to excel. Community-serving TOD must be greater than the sum of its parts by reconciling economic, social and environmental choices in four ways:

  1. Optimizing land use and transportation integration.
  2. Achieving architectural and urban design excellence.
  3. Producing transformational placemaking for people.
  4. Stimulating long-term value creation that uplifts communities.

Striking the balance among these four outcomes is the art and science of architecture and urban planning.

3. Given your international experience, how do you plan to leverage your global perspective to bring a unique and influential touch to our transit projects?

My career has been blessed with opportunities to work around the world with clients who are experimenting, adopting new technologies, testing new kinds of partnerships, and disrupting the status quo. Through this work I’ve developed a keen appreciation for the creative leadership and choreography of experts for which architects are especially well suited. Innovators need capable collaborators. At AECOM, I bring a global perspective to create future-forward multimodal hubs that integrate transit and large-scale mixed-use urban development. I support our Transportation and Buildings + Places experts to leverage design thinking and collectively be the best solution providers and integrators in the industry. I’m always thinking about how to leverage public investment in infrastructure to move the needle in public-serving city building. Our mission is to deliver outcomes that go above and beyond, for the communities of people that these great new facilities and places serve.

4. Looking ahead, what excites you the most about the future of architecture and urban development, particularly in the context of transit-oriented projects?

How we build our world reflects our values. I’m optimistic that we are on the right path to a sustainable, resilient and equitable future that leads to prosperity and peace. The future of our world relies on how citizens interact with our cities and with each other. The freedom of urban mobility unlocks empowerment and fuels democracy. Responsible, beautiful architecture brings joy to society.

I appreciate that we are living in a special time in history. People across the world broadly agree that we should stretch together toward a positive vision of the future that we choose rather than inherit. I see this as a carpe diem moment for us as designers: a window of opportunity for transformational leadership. We have important work ahead to build for the next generations.

Originally published Apr 18, 2024

Author: Kristopher Takács