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This CAF Newhouse 2011 project (#462) has been awarded First Prize

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Due to rapid increase in population and shift towards urban migration, a rising trend across the world for mass transit. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cost-effective and efficient way to move people through their cities. BRT is less permanent and less expensive that rail systems (like the EL), and can move people just as effectively in many cities. Chicago has already brought one route of BRT (the Jeffrey Jump) to the city as an experiment, and is planning two additional routes along the Western and Ashland corridors.

Unlike typical bus stops, BRT stops are meant to be less frequent along routes, making the commute faster and accommodate more people. It is up to you to design how this new type of transit shelter will function and protect passengers from the weather and provide information and other amenities while they are waiting. Other amenities may important to include with the shelter can be a secure bike storage or a ‘Share-a-Bike’ station such as “the Divvy” in Chicago, a place or screen that provides relevant information. A shelter is a structure that we may take for granted, but BRT shelters also have the potential to make our daily lives easier while also significantly impacting the way our streets look.

Define problem

  • Design a BRT intersection (in group): Configure BRT and other vehicular and non-vehicular lanes and sidewalks. Design the intersection to move pedestrians and bikes to the BRT shelter.
  • Design a BRT shelter (individually) to accommodate minimum of 25 people

Take into consideration

For the Intersection:

  • Amount of vehicular traffic,
  • Amount of pedestrian and other non-vehicular traffic
  • Estimated frequency for the BRT
  • Estimated riders at the location
  • Adjacent uses

For the BRT shelter:

  • Ticket or Point of Pay location
  • Ease of loading and unloading
  • Weather protection
  • Safety
  • Place or method for providing information
  • Connectivity to other mode of transport such as bikes, walking etc
  • Energy and roof drainage
  • Other amenities

Provide information about the intersection/stop selected; 63rd and Jeffrey, 35th and Ashland, including drawings..

Supplemental documents can be found here.

Bus shelters around Chicago have been the same for several decades. As everything around the city is changing the bus shelters also need to change. The concept for my bus shelter is umbrellas. Umbrellas provide shelter from both the rain and the sun. Not only do they provide shelter but they also change the city's view. I do not think that all bus shelters should be the same. There are many different neighborhoods around Chicago. Having each neighborhood design their own bus shelters would add to the diversity and uniqueness of the city of Chicago.


all these accessories are a nice idea, but you should be realistic in whether having them are realistic.

You are probably 2nd to Ayaz......Good Work.

One of my juniors is knocking you out of 2nd place. You don't have any people or buses in your bus shelter. Midnight 5-18-11.

Thanks for entering the 2011 CAF Newhouse Architecture Competition! Until the judges have completed evaluating all student projects, you are temporarily blocked from accessing your account or working on this project. Please check back sometime after May 26 for the competition results. Good luck!

Very good job analyzing the problem and working through the solution. I appreciate that you documented the site conditions and also located examples of bus shelters that you are most interested in. Great job at getting feedback from others; this only helps to enrich your project & think about things more critically. In the future, make sure you are clear on the requirements though. No site plan or floor plan is shown here. Good job!

Nice work. Great to see your pencil sketches and then the final renderings. The form of the roof element is intriguing and reminiscent of a light weight tensile structure. Well done.

You have done a great job here of finding precedent projects, and of identifying some key issues that need to be addressed in the design of a bus shelter. I would have liked to have had more information to read in the final design section about your images, about your design, and about the process. Overall, you have done a very good job!

Congratulations!  Your project has been awarded a First Prize by the 2011 Newhouse Architecture Competition jury yesterday.  To celebrate your awesome work, we’re including this project as a ‘Featured Student Project’ on the website.  It will now appear in the sidebar of the Student Gallery and on the homepage in the rotating queue. 
Share this link to your project with your friends on your Facebook page! 
Don’t forget to bring your family with you to the awards ceremony and exhibition opening on the evening of Thursday, June 2. (Details will follow in an email.)  You can also visit the Robert Morris University Gallery between now and June 11 to see your project on display along with all the student projects.  Congrats again!

Curious about the Collect Info step of this bus shelter design problem? >>

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The re-branded CTA BRT route, the Jeffery Jump

In this step of the design process, you’ll want to gather as much information as possible about different types of shelters, from regular bus shelters to train shelters. How are they different? How do people use them? Since BRT is new to Chicago, you’ll also want to look at BRT stations that have been designed in other countries. Interview bus riders about how they use the current type of bus shelter and what is missing in their design.

Think About

  • Start off the project by analyzing what you already know about container architecture and container housing with a quick pre-test.
  • What are the basic functions and design elements of any bus shelter?
  • What materials are these shelters made from?
  • How could current bus shelters be scaled up to accommodate more people and longer wait times?
  • What are some things that you really like or hate about Chicago’s current bus shelters?

 Try This

  • Make a list of all the different features on an existing Chicago bus shelter.  Explain what you’ve learned and post information the information in this step.
  • Learn about the BRT system. How does it work? How are the station locations determined? What makes a BRT system different than a regular bus route?
  • Use Flickr and Google Images to search "BRT shelter." Research different types of bus stops and shelters in different cities around the world. How are these different than regular bus shelters?
  • Use Google Maps to view and print out an aerial photograph of your intersection. How far away is the stop from the street corner? How far away should it be?
  • Interview several of your friends and classmates about what they like or hate about the bus shelters you typically use. 
  • Check out this Chicago Tribune article from architecture critic Blair Kamin about the 2003 design of Chicago's bus shelters by a French company.
  • This blog about bus shelter designs have some very interesting ideas from all over the world.

floresv's work for the Collect Information step:

In Chicago all bus shelters are the designed the same way. The basic function of these bus shelters is to provide shelter for the millions of public transportation users. Most bus shelters are made with corrosion-free material. Public transportation has become more popular in recent years because of the increase in gas prices. Therefore the shelters provide a place for the many passengers to wait. These shelters provide a place to avoid the rain and a place to sit. However that bus shelters do not provide heat for the passengers. Winters in Chicago can get pretty brutal and waiting for a bus or train in the cold is not easy. According to the Chicago Tribune Kraft Foods provided heat to several bus shelters downtown as well as samples of their food. This heat was only temporary so passengers continue to suffer through the long winter. The average a person waits for a bus is about fifteen minutes. But the time may vary. During rush hours buses are more frequent. Still there are always more than three people still waiting at the same time in one bus shelter, which can be a problem considering there are only three seats. The CTA is always asking the government for more funding and they are always trying to find ways to make more money. Advertising on their buses is one of those ways that they make money. Recently, they have also started to have Solar Powered Backlight 3’9 x 5’10 panels to advertise on their bus shelters. The CTA charges one hundred dollars a month to advertise. If they raised the rates, they could use that money to at least heat the shelters, for their passengers.

Problems with the existing bus shelters
- The glass walls have gaps in them that allow wind to come in
- Many do not accommodate people in wheel chairs because they are located too close to the curb.
- Are often vandalized.
-Many are located far from the actual bus stop.
-Many argue they were only designed to "look nice" and with the passengers not in mind.


Curious about the Brainstorm Ideas step of this bus shelter design project? >>

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A TransMilenio Station in Bogotá, Colombia

In the this step of the design process, you’ll want put some early ideas down on paper that show what you've found in the Collect Info step.  You also might take more photos to show specific new ideas you have. 

Make some early decisions about the location, size, features, and materials for your BRT shelter. Draw a hand sketch to help you puzzle through new ideas.

Try This

  • Identify a location for your BRT shelter on your site near your intersection. Mark this location on a map and think about its proximity to other bus stops, rail stations, or other points of interest near this intersection.
  • Based on what you learned in the Collect Information, make a list of all the features you'd like to have in your design. Edit this list into ‘necessities’ and ‘nice to have’ categories.
  • Using a tape measure and some masking tape, mark out some different footprint options for the shelter. How many people do you need to accommodate? How much space should each person get? How does this compare with the size of a regular bus shelter?  Explain your thinking in the description of your project.
  • Draw several quick sketches to get your early ideas down on paper.  Either take a photo or scan and then upload your sketches to your project account.  These don’t need to be your final ideas. 
  • Consider what materials the shelter will be made from: what materials will be durable against the weather and the riders who wait there?

floresv's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:


Addison Ave.

Addision & Western Intersection

Addison Ave. Possible location.

-Corrosion free material
-Map of city
-CTA routes
-Seating for at least four people
- Wheel chair accessible
-Bullet proof walls

Most walls should be transparent to provide safety to passengers. This prevents crime as well.
Colors should resemble the CTA company.

It also eliminates the chances of the shelter to be vandalized.
The shelter will be located exactly where the bus stop is, many passengers complain that some shelters are located far away from the actual stop causing them to miss it.

Curious about the Develop Solutions step of this bus shelter design project? >>

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Now's the time to take what you've learned from the steps above to develop your solution for a BRT shelter.

Important! Since DiscoverDesign is about investigating the design process, the other people viewing your project - other students around the country, your teacher, and mentors - want to see how your ideas have changed over time. This means that while you're working on your digital model, you’ll want to be sure to keep re-saving it with a new file name every few days as you work through the steps.

Draw a sketch or use software such as Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, or Revit to illustrate your ideas.  You can upload photos (JPG files) from your SketchUp model, video fly throughs (FLV files) of your SketchUp model, or drawings (DWF files) from AutoCAD.

Try to include

  • One site plan
  • One floor plan
  • At least two elevation or perspective views

Try This

You may use any method you'd like to show your design (pencil, colored pencil, collage, physical models, or digital rendering software).  Here are a few suggestions for drawings and models of your BRT shelter:

  • Use cardboard or cardstock to build a rough physical study model or prototype of your shelter. You can't really understand the shape of the shelter until you make a quick study model. Don't worry about making a fancy finished model at this time. Instead, use cardstock, scissors, and tape to quickly create the large 3D form. See how it looks. Break off different sections, add new pieces, and try new ideas. Take photos of your model and upload them to this step.
  • Sketch or use software such as Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, or Revit to get the ideas out of your head to share with others.

floresv's work for the Develop Solutions step:

Solar panels used to light and heat the shelter.

LCD screen used tell bus times and how long it takes for the next bus.


Rendering number one

One of the many complaints from bus passengers are the weather conditions they suffer from every winter. My solution to this problem is adding heat lamps to provide some heat to the passengers awaiting the bus.
Going "green" is becoming very popular; in order to help the environment by bus shelter will include lights that are powered by solar panels located on the top of the bus shelter. Another feature of my bus shelter is an LCD screen that will be used to inform customers not only of when the next bus will arrive but also the latest news, weather and any possible traffic delays.

Bus passengers are always on the go. Many of them always rushing from one place to another. This shelter comes equipped with vending machines that will provide a snack for all the hungry passengers.
On every CTA bus in Chicago there is a sign that says the bus driver does not have any change. Bus rides are currently $2.25 a ride. Many passengers often find themselves with no change. For these situations a change machine is available to accommodate to the passengers.

Curious about the Final step of this bus shelter design problem? >>

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A unique station on the world's first BRT system in Curitiba, Brazil.

The final step of the design process is to create more finished drawings that illustrate your ideas to others. Remember, your explanation text and the types of drawings, images, and models you share need to tell the whole story of your project to someone who may or may not have ever visited your site or even your city.

Continue to collect feedback from your peers, teachers and the online community to help you improve on your final design. Be sure to review and add constructive comments on the work of your classmates and other students who are solving the same design problem. If your ideas change, be sure to explain your thinking and let others know about the new work you have posted to your account.

You might want to share floor plans, elevations, renderings of your digital model, photos of a physical model, or a video animation of your model.

  • Review your design and test it against your original sucess statement that you wrote for the Overview. Does it meet this criteria?
  • Make a list of your ideas, sketches, and study models. For your final design you will want to write and post a short but effective paragraph of your process and the unique solutions you found developed. Tell us about your ideas.
  • Your teacher and architectural mentors will be looking for these things:
    1. originality in your design
    2. your ability to creatively solve the design challenge
    3. the quality of images, sketches, drawings, and models you have uploaded in each of the five design process steps (Overview, Collect Info, Brainstorm Ideas, Develop Solutions, and Final Design).
    4. As your ideas change, be sure to explain your thinking and let others know about the new work you have posted to your account. Go back to the virtual drawing board and revise your project based on the feedback of others.
    5. how well you have written about and explained your thinking in each of the design process steps

floresv's work for the Final Design step:


Heat lamps and lights on the roof.


Vending machine for both food and to provide change.