Burnham Prize Winners Imagine Chicago BRT Designs

Burnham Prize Winners Imagine Chicago BRT Designs

During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience.

So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago’s burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems.


Project Title: Form vs. Uniform
Team: Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash

Winning entry Form vs. Uniform came from a husband-and-wife team who moved to Chicago from Toronto four months ago. They started with a ceiling of concentric wood rings, pulled down at various points to meet the ground. At those points steel supports would bolster the wrap-around glass that enclosed each station. The graceful iterations would “unify and differentiate at the same time” the system’s stops. Its rounded corners and glassy clarity made for a remarkably open feel — a tribute to the city’s modernist mythology, its architects said — but insulated riders from the weather.

Project Title: Enthalpy
Team: Aetheric Studio (Goi Artetxe and Elise Renwick)

The thin, tubular design of Enthalpy appears ready to vanish in its elegance, with LEDs, heat lamps and glass seemingly draped over a steel frame and guarded by a meadow mesh exterior. “We wanted the architecture to float and be open,” said entrant Elise Renwick. Its “chandelier-like” sleekness was eye-catching, though some jurors worried it would be too fragile.

Project Title: BTA: Bus Transit Authority
Team: Aneesha Dharwadker and Conor O’Shea

Designed by Chicago natives, bta pays homage to the CTA farecard itself, arching in and out of the pavement in a slender ribbon to shield commuters from the weather, with separate shelters united graphically by the CTA farecard’s off-center black stripe. Jurors cheered its modular design and bright LCD screens, which the architects suggested could be used to display artwork Tweeted by local Chicago Public Schools students, but were skeptical that the relatively small shelters would provide ample protection.


Project title: Torqued Spine
Team: HDR Engineering (Janet Gonzalez Jeff Fahs, Lance Thies)

Project Title: Halo
Team: RTKL Associates Inc., Willoughby Engineering , Halvorson Partners

Project Title: Kinesis
Team: LC Architects (Ermis Chalvatzis and Natassa Lianou)


Project Title: BuRT
Team: Perkins+Will (Branded Environments and Urban Design)

Project Title: Plug & Play
Team: Francesc Montosa and Marc Torrellas (with Mark Pique and Meritxell Arderiux)

Project Title: Hurry Up AND Slow Down
Team: Ann Lui and Craig Reschke

The 42 entries came from 14 countries. Watch the awards ceremony here: