Come next year, Metro riders might not have to keep out their umbrellas while ascending or descending on one of the rail system’s longest escalators, when it’s raining. On Monday, the transit authority announced that later in April it would begin installing a large canopy above the north entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro station, whose escalators rise 95 vertical feet.
A significant stretch of the entrance, served by 190-foot-long escalators, is currently exposed to precipitation. This has allowed rain water, snow, and ice to breach the escalators since the Red Line station debuted in 1977, according to Metro. The planned canopy is scheduled to be finished by early next year, and would mirror the more than three dozen other canopies now in place across the rail system. Those include ones at the south entrance of the Dupont Circle stop, and the Columbia Heights and U Street stops. Metro began installing canopies in 2003.
While the project is underway, the north entrance will keep open “with some modifications to pedestrian flow,” says Metro. “Construction will require the temporary relocation of bike racks and lockers, as well as the temporary removal of about a dozen trees [surrounding the entrance], which will be replaced when construction allows,” the transit authority continues.
In a release, Metro explains some of the architectural challenges in revamping the entrance:
Dupont Circle’s north entrance’s unique size and shape posed an engineering and design challenge because it is significantly larger than other Metro station entrances. The canopy structure will consist of 13 pre-fabricated steel frame modules, connected with bolted joints and supported by seven base brackets resting on the parapet wall. More than 200 individually framed glass panels will form an elliptical canopy 97 feet long by 82 feet wide. Multiple light fixtures will be integrated into the canopy to provide ambient lighting, highlighting the structure and illuminating the iconic Walt Whitman inscription on the parapet wall below.
Thanks to dedicated funding from the area’s jurisdictions, Metro says it also plans to install canopies at nine other entrances to the rail system and is coordinating with federal agencies.