Interpretative art brings beauty of Washington Park to nation’s deepest light rail platform

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Vibrant makeover brightens up TriMet’s Washington Park MAX Station

TriMet’s Washington Park MAX Station gets a new look, with vinyl murals that capture the beauty and wonder of the park experience, as well as other improvements finishing up in the next few weeks. Located within Portland’s West Hills, the station serves as a gateway to Washington Park and some of the region’s most beloved treasures. Adventures at the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Portland Children’s Museum, the World Forestry Center and Hoyt Arboretum all begin here.

Some 750,000 people pass through the Washington Park station each year, and when MAX Blue and Red Line trains pull in, riders know they’re somewhere special. Sitting 260 feet below ground, it stands out as the nation’s deepest light rail platform and the only underground station in TriMet’s 60-mile light rail system. Now when the trains arrive at the station, a wash of color greets riders. Upon closer inspection, they will find little gems from the park, seemingly woven into walls around them.

Art inspired by nature

“A squirrel, frog, rabbits and other park animals await discovery, hidden in artwork details,” said co-creator, Kathy Fry of Portland-based design firm Mayer/Reed. ” I hoped to soften the granite and concrete environment with watercolor and swirling illustrative lines and capture the interest of children at this major family destination.”

The park-themed display is composed of two, vibrantly colored, 200-foot-long vinyl murals, one on each side of the Robertson Tunnel across from the platforms. Designed with the existing artwork in mind, the mural on the westbound trackway wall includes a sunset with shades of red and plum, while in the eastbound tunnel, brilliant yellows and oranges capture an arching sunrise.

 Washington Park MAX Station Murals – By the numbers

  • Tunnels updated: 2
  • Panels applied: 450
  • Square feet of material: 11,000
  • Installation hours: 120

Other upgrades and improvements

Because of its underground location, the Washington Park MAX Station stays a cool 50-55 degrees year-round, but the addition of new LED lighting brightens the tunnel atmosphere and adds a sense of warmth to the platform. LEDs use one-sixth of the electricity and last 3.5 times as long as metal halide bulbs. This energy efficient and environmentally focused upgrade will lower the cost of lighting the area and qualifies for an Energy Trust of Oregon credit.

Improvements to the station continue with graffiti-resistant upgrades in the elevator lobbies. By using materials like granite and ceramic tile, TriMet reduced the cost and time of maintenance, while extending the life of the station. The work marks the final phase of the first physical upgrade to the Washington Park MAX Station since it opened in 1998. Project completion is expected by October 31, 2017.

Making Transit Better

This six-month, $2.1 million renovation effort is part of TriMet’s reinvestment in the MAX system including major trackway projects and ongoing rehabilitation of our oldest MAX stations. Our Making Transit Better program reflects TriMet’s commitment to improve the overall rider experience while growing our network of buses and trains.