Next Stop: The 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

by Stanley Collyer

Winning entry by Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash

The NEXT STOP competition challenged designers worldwide to propose a vision for iconic, functional and sustainable stations for Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It attracted forty-two entries representing design teams from 14 countries. Each competition entry includeed a station prototype and variations for three neighborhoods—the Loop, Bucktown-Logan Square and Pilsen.

The competition jury included:

• Monica Chadha (Converge:Exchange)
• Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture)
• Cheri Heramb (AECOM)
• Gabe Klein, (Chicago Department of Transportation)
• Pat Natke (UrbanWorks Architecture)
• Peter Osler (Illinois Institute of Technology)
• Carol Ross Barney (Ross Barney Architects)
• Rebekah Scheinfeld (Chicago Transit Authority)
• Charles Smith (Cannon Design)
• Stanley Tigerman (Tigerman McCurry Architecture).

Commenting on the importance of ideas competitions to urban design, Chicago Architectural Club co-President Brian Strawn stated, “These visionary designs have come from the ground up, directly from the design and architecture community itself.” Added co-President Karla Sierralta, “This competition process should be used as a model to create a better designed Chicago, by sourcing the best ideas from around the globe and directly from our local community.”

According to Chicago Architecture Foundation CEO Lynn Osmond, the design ideas submitted represent an innovative vision for the transit station of the future. “Visionary and functional, these designs much more than bus stops,” Osmond said. “We believe the ideas presented here can and should inform the future of BRT In Chicago.”

“The more we looked at the design schemes,” noted Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner and juror, Gabe Klein, “the more I was reminded that we aren’t just creting a transportation system—we’re creating place with these stations. And we’re reinventing the street.”

“A Bus Rapid Transit station isn’t just a way to access transit,” said Chris Ziemann, Chicago BRT Project Manager. “It’s the rider’s first experience with this new mode. The form and shape of the station will ultimately influence public acceptance of BRT in the City.”


First Place

Form vs. Uniform: Generative Chicago BRT Stations

Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash, Toronto

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Form vs. Uniform Incorporates a simple wood surface, which allows BRT stations to be consistent yet unique to their surroundings. Wood strips form the station structure, roof, and entrances. The width and pattern of the wooden strips vary in order to block summer sun. Glass walls provide shelter and views. Rooftop windows let in fresh air. Solar panels generate a portion of the power needed to operate station features including ticket machines, sliding doors, and real time arrival screens. Station amenities include heat lamps and bike racks.

Judges commented:“The first place winners developed a beautiful station design that combines classic materials with stateof-the art technology to create a new iconic look for a BRT system in Chicago. The design has a timeless quality and simple elegance. It has good integration of structure, seating and enclosure, is easily adapted for varying entry needs and could shelter bikes, as well as people.”


Second Place


Goi Artetxe and Elise Katherine Renwick, Chicago

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Enthalpy stations serve the community as well as BRT riders. (Enthalpy means the measure of total energy of a thermodynamic system.) The stations incorporate solar panels to generate energy, which powers the stations or returns to the grid. The structures include bike storage, recycling points, ticketing machines, and seating. Vending machines offer bike accessories and snacks. The stations are clad in metal mesh. Judges commented: “The design for the second place winner creates an inviting space with a feeling of openness that does not overwhelm the street context, and successfully integrates solar and digital technologies.”


Third Place


Conor O’Shea and Aneesha Dharwadker, Boston

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Bus Transit Authority, BTA, is a framework that can adapt to the city and neighborhood scale. Modular units can be arranged as local conditions demand. The flexibility and low cost of BTA components allow for stations to changed based on fluctuating economic conditions, neighborhood development, and seasonal ridership. Stations can be assembled and disassembled for one-off occasions such as sporting events or political rallies.

Judges remarked: “The third place winners have proposed a station design with a modern look that works across the city, downtown or in the neighborhoods, day and night, and can be sized to fit the right scale needed for each stop with fully integrated digital technology for customer information.”