BUS TRANSIT AUTHORITY
Location Chicago IL
Design Aneesha Dharwadker and Conor O'Shea
Awards Third Place, Burnham Prize: NEXT STOP: Designing Chicago BRT Stations
Publications Association Vol. 7 (Cornell University, 2015)
Bus Transit Authority is an architecturally-nimble bus rapid transit strategy designed to co-evolve with Chicago’s dynamic urban ecosystem. It is a multiscalar flexible framework plan operating at the metropolitan scale, the neighborhood scale, and manifested architecturally using modular units deployable as local conditions demand.
Arguably more than any other American city, Chicago’s physical fabric is the manifestation of over 200 years of evolving transportation infrastructure. From the freight railroads that fed the Union Stock Yards, to the electric interurbans ferrying regional commuters in and out of the Loop, to the interstate highway system that helped catalyze the greater metropolitan area, and not least, the “L,” Chicago’s economy has always relied on a historically-specific mode of transportation to move goods and people.
Today, as Chicago’s economy continues to shift from its previous manufacturing base towards one engaged in services—exemplified by the success of companies like Groupon, as well as reinvestment in numerous neighborhoods beyond the Central Business District—it requires an new attendant mode of transportation infrastructure to serve new socioeconomic currents. However, given uncertain fluctuating market forces and rapidly shifting local economies, large-scale investments like fixed rail is risky and expensive.
Bus rapid transit, Chicago’s contemporary transit vision for its 21st century identity, must not only relieve the ever popular CTA train and bus routes, but should also play an active role in strengthening and creating new connections among existing and emerging recreational, environmental, and social systems in the city.