I was in London last week, and I got to see the new King’s Cross station just a few days after opening. I’d seen renderings, and this was a rare occasion when the real thing was everything promise by the drawing and more. While its not The Platonic Public Space, its an enormous improvement on what was there before, and I think it really makes a huge difference to the area.
King’s Cross and environs is currently undergoing a huge, decade-long revamp, and this development is on the vanguard of completed projects. I was traveling through King’s Cross a lot in the fall, so I can say with authority that this new public space – including a new retail gallery, a ticket office, a huge covered corridor and Underground connection – is a fantastic addition to the area.
Furthermore, I was there just a few days after the official opening, and there was still a large-scale public information campaign to retrain the public how to use the station. On the one hand, I think traffic patterns should be clear if the space is well-designed. On the other hand, thousands of people have used the station the way it was for the past however many years, and I did actually profit from a woman wearing a sandwich board (in the same finger-pointing shape as above) directing me from the Tube to the station. The public information campaign has been really well executed.
I should also say that, while I am certainly a nerd for stopping to take pictures, I was hardly the only one doing it. The space isn’t perfect, but the effect is really impressive. It actually stopped me in my tracks as I rounded the corner from platform 9.