|Greensboro Station Main Hall|
Be that as it may – I was delighted to see that the former Southern Railway Station was not only still standing but had evidently enjoyed a great deal of attention during the ensuing years. Shortly after my visit in 1974, Southern Railway gave the station to the City of Greensboro. The North Carolina Department of Transportation later got involved and what we now have is a beautifully restored facility that serves its original purpose beautifully and is presented as the J. Douglas Gaylon Depot.
The lobby of the restored Greensboro station is bright and light filled. About ninety percent of the interior is in lighter tones such as the terrazzo floor and plaster walls with polished stone embellishments. The remaining ten percent consists of dark stained oak wood that has been well restored.
|Benches and Booths in Dark Oak|
Some designers avoid strong contrasts in favor of aligning a range of closely related values with a goal of creating serenity. Others introduce several sharp contrasts into a space, which is politely referred to as giving animation to a space – but really it is just jarring. The main hall of the Greensboro train station shows a use of contrast that is very nearly perfect. This is to be expected because, after all, they don’t call it neo-classical for nothing. The first thing to observe is this proportion: eighty to ninety percent lighter offset with twenty to ten percent contrast. The next thing that makes this successful is the choice of material: oak with a dark stain. This same effect could have been achieved with dark marble or dark paint. But a relief from the hard surfaces is achieved through the introduction of oak wood that adds warmth to what could have quickly been a visually cold – albeit attractive – space. In this particular instance, the architects chose against using ornate millwork the grain of the wood becomes the outstanding feature. Prominent pieces such as the train announcement board or the protrusion over the telephone booths make do with some simple and traditional oak crown molding as their only embellishment, which shows wonderful restraint.
The only problem with the beautifully restored Greensboro train station is that it makes you wonder why new airports can be designed to create a “gateway to the city” effect.