• 2024 HONOREE
  • Craft

SFMTA Central Subway Chinatown

DLR Group

Design Team

DLR Group

Denis Henmi

Principal/Global Transportation Leader

Robert Jansen

Project Manager/Architect

Neil Peralta

Construction Manager/Architect

Jason Tran


The new line is a strong step forward for justice, making it easier for parents to get to work, children to get to school and small businesses to attract more customers.
U.S. Senator Nancy Pelosi

About the Project

The community hoped for a station that represented their future, as well as their culture and history, and followed feng shui design principles. And to help the design team understand their goals for the station, two local nonprofit organizations, Asian Neighborhood Design and Chinatown Community Development Center, held design workshops for the community in late 2008 and compiled a set of guidelines.

The design celebrates the choreographed procession from the ground level down to the train platforms, while taking advantage of natural breaks along the way. Riders begin the journey bathed in natural light under a canopy of structural glass and traverse through the voluminous space on two vertical flights of escalators, while greeted by art installations along the way that embody the cultural significance of the Chinatown Community. The journey culminates at the train platform, where the vaulted form is celebrated with white cement fiberboard panels that conceal utility lines and bring a slight luminescence to the space.

The design team also brought in a feng shui consultant to advise them on how to avoid creating negative energy in the design choices. The upward sloping building site provides a good flow of energy, and the design color palette incorporates soft greens in the material selections to stimulate a sense of nature, which also compliments Chinatown’s colors of reds and yellows, all symbolic in Chinese culture.

Thanks to San Francisco’s “2-percent-for-art” program, which requires that two percent of the construction budget for city projects is allocated to public art, the SFMTA was able to commission significant artworks for the station. The design firm engaged with the city’s Arts Commission to identify opportunities for artwork and fully integrate it into the station architecture.

The facade features a 100-foot-long artwork by NYC-based artist Tomie Arai that wraps around the corner at the intersection of Stockton and Washington Streets. Arai, a printmaker, incorporates historical imagery such as photographs in her work; and Urban Archaeology, rendered on architectural glass panels, will show the history of the area surrounding the station. Installation in progress.

The Chinatown community also advocated for local artists, who didn’t have experience applying for public art commissions and struggled with the language barrier, by helping them with their applications. The station’s signature works are by artist Yumei Hou, a senior living in a single-residence-occupancy building in downtown San Francisco. Hou, who specializes in traditional Chinese paper cutting, designed two works depicting a folk dance from her native Manchuria: “Yangge: Dance of the Bride” & “Yangge: Dance of the New Year.” The architects and the San Francisco Arts Commission worked with Hou to translate her paper cuttings into a large laser-cut metal artwork. As riders enter and exit the train platform, the first thing they will see is Hou’s paper cutting, scaled up to 30 feet high by 35 feet wide, in bold red.

At the Concourse Level is Clare Roja’s “A Sense of Community,” a ceramic tile mural patterns in the style of a cathedral quilt, featuring a variety of Silk Road textiles. Take a closer look at the tiles and see how the different tiles and textiles fit together into a larger piece.

The Central Subway is a transformative project for our City and a critical bridge to connect our neighborhood and bring people together.
London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco

Extended Partners

General Contractor

Tutor Perini


Telamon Engineering Consultants


CB Engineers

Electrical/Lighting Design

YEI Engineers

Plumbing/Fire Sprinkler/ Low Voltage


Structural (Tunneling)


Structural (Station Cavern)

Dr. Sauer Group

Structural ((Headhouse)

Forell Elsesser

Structural (Structural Glass)

Thornton Tomasetti

Landscape Architect

RHAA Landscape Architects & Planners

Emergency Ventilation



Schindler Elevators


LaHue and Associates


Jason O’Rear

Such state and local partnerships demonstrate that all neighborhoods deserve the convenience and economic vitality public transit can bring.
Phil Ting, Assembly Budget Chair


Concrete Bench

Tectura, Wausau Tile


Landscape Forms, Forms + Surfaces

Light Fixtures

Evergreen Lighting, Beta Essential, Lumenpulse


Fiber Wall Panels


Perforated Wall Panels




Perforated Ceiling Panels

Ceilings Plus



Terroxy Epoxy Floor

Terrazzo & Marble Supply

Cavern Wall

Swiss Pearl


100ft Long Exterior Facade Artwork

Tomie Arai Artist, Printmaker, Public Artist

“A Sense of Community”

Clare Rojas Multidisciplinary Artist

“Yangge: Dance of the Bride”

Yumei Hou Sculptor, Chinese Paper Cutting

“Yangge: Dance of the New Year”

Yumei Hou Sculptor, Chinese Paper Cutting

The Central Subway is a success story, and this victory will be enjoyed for decades to come by San Franciscans and visitors alike.
Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation

Back to all 2024 Honorees