Canadians take first place in 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

Entitled NEXT STOP: Designing Chicago BRT Stations, the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition sought to integrate innovative and compelling transportation design into Chicago’s urban fabric. Importantly, NEXT STOP solicited proposals that realize the city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system as a system of solutions: each design team was required to submit designs for three different prototype sites and demonstrate how BRT station design can be adapted to each context. The competition hopes to catalyze iconic, sustainable and functional design for representative corridors in Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

First place was awarded to a scheme entitled Form vs. Uniform, designed by Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash, both based in Toronto. 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.

The jury commented: “The first-place winners have developed a beautiful station design that combines classic materials with state-of-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.”

An exhibition of winning designs and all competition entries was recently on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Atrium gallery until June 28, 2013.

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