BACK ON TRACK: MODULAR POST OFFICE

Annie Chiang

Modular Post Office - Identifying Image.jpg

The USPS is the largest civilian vehicular fleet in the world, with over 212,000 postal-owned vehicles. In light of them being behind on their goals to reduce petroleum fuel use, the United States Postal Service needs long-term solutions to their dependence on oil. Freight rail is a very fuel efficient way of transporting goods in the United States and was used widely across the nation to transport mail from 1832 to 1977 until the popularity of the automobile. The USPS can benefit from revisiting Rail Mail and making use of an existing underutilized infrastructure. 

The module is based on the dimensions of a standard boxcar. The module is a 10’x10’x13’ steel frame with panels that fit onto the frame. Five of the modules can easily fit on a rail car. This modular Post Office is prefabricated off-site and easily transported to its site by rail. The module will also be sited within close proximity of the rail track to take advantage of rail delivery and pick up. The proposal offers the idea of connecting a larger network of rural post offices within a 10 mile radius of an existing railway. The modules can be positioned face to face or offset by half of a module to create more opportunities for light and varying spaces.

 The design incorporates removable façade panels of varying transparency gradients. The spatial organization of the module is based on the linear organization of a historic sorting rail car. The main circulation is through the center of the module and the programmatic functions are positioned on the edges of the module. A space for the public is positioned on one end allowing for flexible service to the public: either inside or outside the building depending on weather conditions.