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New Brooklyn LIRR terminal is on a roll

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After nearly six years of construction, the new entrance to the Long Island Rail Road's critical Atlantic Terminal at Flatbush Avenue is finally open to straphangers, according to The Brooklyn Paper. Commuters looking for the LIRR ticket office will find that it has moved to a new location on the concourse below the ground floor entrance, where natural light shines through glass that spans from the road to the ceiling, offering views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower across the street.

Bringing in natural light
to the concourse below street-level was one of the top priorities of John di
Domenico, the head architect with the Queens-based firm, di Domenico and
Partners, which designed the facility.

"As a commuter, light
serves as a timepiece, as well as being pleasant — and free," he said.

Though the ground-floor
entrance is blocked off until next week’s grand opening, The Brooklyn Paper got
a sneak peak of the concourse, which can be accessed via LIRR platforms. One of
the distinctive features of the new space is a rough-hewn granite sculpture
featuring craggy geometric shapes that loom over commuters emerging from train
platforms. Designed by Allan and Ellen Wexler, the sculpture is part of the
city’s "Arts for Transit" program. The inspiration for the cubist
forms, according to Allan Wexler, came from scenic overlooks at state parks.

"It is a cross between
mathematics and nature," said the artist. "I don’t want it to be
clear where the architecture ends and the sculpture begins."

More than 50,000 commuters
come through the station daily, whether via the subway or Long Island Rail
Road.

The renovations began in
June 2004 with a projected budget of $116 million, according to an MTA press
release. The railroad claims that the job was completed $8 million under
budget.

Di Domenico said that the
biggest challenge was accommodating that many commuters a day throughout
construction.

"We had to design the
new entrance without causing additional inconveniences," said di Domenico.

Despite the five years it
took to build the new entrance — which disrupted foot traffic on Hanson Place
— di Domenico said the lengthy construction time was a necessary evil.

"There weren’t delays
as far as I’m concerned," di Domenico said. "We had to be safe and
make sure the trains ran on time."

A LIRR spokeswoman had told
the New York Times in July that "unforeseen site conditions" caused
the construction delays.

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