How The Texas Bullet Train Inspired my Architecture Master Thesis: “The Fulcrum of Movement”

Kyle Kiser - "The Fulcrum of Movement"


Kyle Kiser attended the University of Texas at Arlington for his undergraduate degree, and holds a masters degree from the University of Houston School of Architecture with dual concentrations in Urban Systems and Sustainable Design.

The introduction of a faster, safer, and more reliable alternative transportation could have profound implications for the city’s mobility and infrastructure. Initial discussions of a comprehensive plan to implement a high speed rail system in Texas is a catalyst, not only for the state, but for a nationwide network of intricate new systems by transcending intercity relationships with the High Speed Rail.

Having completed my Bachelor’s at the University of Texas at Arlington combined with a Master’s in Architecture at the University of Houston with dual concentrations in Urban Systems and Sustainable Design, I became highly interested with the evolution of cities, how they adapt, and the phenomenology between people and the spaces they inhabit. After hearing rumors of a future high speed rail, it immediately sparked my interest and chose it as my master’s thesis project. The design was then kick-started after hearing about last year’s Future Architects Design Competition; and although I had a separate work and class schedule, I had to participate. Myself and a few other colleagues decided to team up for the competition in our free time and were fortunate enough to be selected as finalists. The experience of the competition provided a strong foundation of just what was to come. After hearing the feedback of jurors, other finalists, and Texas Central, it allowed me to focus my interest and really dive into the core concepts; improving and refining upon the initial station design.

With train stations, their typology has a timeless architecture that continues to adapt and change to evolving cities. With this project, the intent is to create a station that supersedes merely meeting criteria of program; it is to be instead, an integral part of an up-in-coming neighborhood in the city of Dallas, and in part become more than just a station itself. The idea is for the station to become a fulcrum of all types of movement, tying together various paths and integrating transitory spaces. The stacking of programs is designed around varying modes of transportation that guide passengers and visitors on their respective paths of travel.

One primary concern designing near downtown Dallas is avoiding other infrastructural systems. This results in the tracks needing to be approximately 70’ above grade. Due to this, it was vital to ensure that the land beneath the tracks was utilized efficiently by creating an experiential place that was open for a multitude of programs. The lower level is primarily an open public space that also incorporates an expansion to Dallas’ Dart system that adds to the light rail’s Red line and a new bus station. Furthermore, there is a network of trails for connecting primary points, direct paths, and meandering paths, leading to a wetland that feeds into the old Trinity River.

To obtain the design goals and intent, the structure was a primary focus. The use of hyperboloids grouped together and linked with tension rings as a modular system, allowed for an open space with four primary nodes. Likewise, the structural “skin” wrapping the building connects to the primary structure funneling down through the interior spaces. These funnels are multifunctional, not only allowing natural light to transverse down to the ground floor, but also serving as water collectors that is either re-used or filtered into the wetlands.

The midlevel is comprised of various zones for retail, rest and park-like spaces, and services for the Train Station which acts as the ‘piano nobile’. Meanwhile, the upper level consists of the primary station activities in the grand hall. On the platforms areas, the canopy only allows for 50% of sun

light for protection from the natural environment, but maintains ample lighting for trees, which provide shading for passengers. This, coupled with cross ventilation, makes a space that is both sustainable and comfortable for the people inhabiting the space.

This project is one that can challenge implications and spark discourse of what is to come and where we can go. Texas Central gave me an exciting opportunity to design with intent in a competition setting, on a large-scale project with numerous different facets and programmatic components. My aspiration for future projects is to continue to test ideas that are both beneficial to the cities they reside in and the people who are able to experience them.

If  you’re a Texas University student on or near the proposed alignment and are as inspired by the Texas Bullet Train project as Kyle was, we encourage you to enter this year’s Texas Bullet Train Short Film Competition! Click below for more details.

Texas Central 2017 Film Competition Logo

View The Full Design Project

Concept Art for Kyle Kiser's "Fulcrum of Movement"