Research Projects


By Rabi Abonour, UCLA Master of Urban and Regional Planning, 2018



Photo by Rabi Abonour

If you build it, they will come. So hope the team behind the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), a $184 million transportation hub along the Santa Ana River.

On March 24th, a group of METRANS students toured the facility with John Lower, Associate Vice President at Iteris, Inc. and former Traffic and Transportation Manager for the City of Anaheim; Mengzhao Hu, Senior Transportation Planner at KOA Corporation; and Kevin Miako, Associate Engineer for the City of Anaheim. Lower, Hu, and Miako showed the students around the facility and outlined the broader vision for this ambitious project.

Walking into ARTIC, students were immediately impressed by its scale.

“ARTIC's architecture reminds me very much of TGV stations in France,” said Griffin Kantz, a senior student in Policy, Planning and Development at USC. 

UC Irvine Master of Civil Engineering student, Irene Martinez, an international student from Barcelona, echoed Kantz’ observation. “I feel as though I am in Europe,” she shared.  “You don’t expect to see these kinds of facilities in the US.”


Photo by Rabi Abonour

Pass through the building’s 120-foot glass facade and you enter a 67,000-square-foot space surrounded by a massive dome inspired by blimp hangars - a nod to Orange County’s history as a center of the US Navy’s airship operations during World War II. The dome is comprised of a 500-ton steel diagrid and 42 arches made from recycled Standard Oil pipes.

The innovation behind ARTIC becomes particularly clear when one looks to the roof. The roof’s steel frame is covered by an inflated shell made of a type of plastic called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene. This material is lighter than glass and allows diffused light and heat to enter the facility. This is just one of many reasons ARTIC earned a LEED Platinum Certification. In addition, the eco-friendly building is climate-controlled with a radiant heating and cooling system that uses reclaimed water from the Orange County Water District. Reclaimed water is also used for landscaping around the facility.

The architecture makes a statement, but ARTIC exists to be functional, not just pretty. The station currently provides access to transit providers like Amtrak, Metrolink, and Orange County Transportation Authority. ARTIC serves an estimated 2,800 riders on an average weekday, with that number climbing to 4,300 on event days. This is well under projections, and since opening in 2014 the station has been criticized for not being busy enough to justify its price. But the facility was an intentionally ambitious project, built as part of a long-term vision for the city.

“ARTIC is a great example envisioning what a multimodal transportation hub needs to incorporate 20, (even) 50 years down the line,” remarked Tiffany Chu, a first-year Master of Public Policy student at UCLA.

ARTIC is situated in an area within the city of Anaheim known as the Platinum Triangle, an 800-acre rezoning project that aims to create a bustling new business and residential district. Housing and retail are already under construction. As development continues, the city wants to be prepared to handle it. On top of current train and bus service, ARTIC will be ready to welcome high-speed rail when that project makes its way to Orange County. There are currently almost 1,100 parking spaces on site, but the facility’s main lot is slated for development. The goal is to have people get to ARTIC by foot, bike, or bus.

“The shift to multimodal is a key part of a smart city,” Lower explained. “We never wanted to become Orange County’s parking lot.”

It is unclear exactly what the future holds for ARTIC, but as Anaheim continues to grow, the city’s commitment to multimodal transportation will become even more important. For METRANS students, touring the facility showed just what is possible when planners don’t shy away from big projects.


Rabi Abonour

Rabi Abonour is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs specializing in transportation policy and planning. He expects to complete his degree in June, 2018.  Rabi has a background in bicyclist and pedestrian safety, and currently conducts research into active and mass transportation for the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. He can be reached at [email protected].