The Utile team was awarded the first place prize in the BostonBRT Station Design Competition, hosted by the Barr Foundation and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). The competition called upon designers for creative and inspiring ideas for future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations that create a sense of civic pride and a world-class transit experience for Bostonians. As part of the first place prize, two members of the Utile team had the honor of traveling to ITDP’s international Mobilize Summit in Santiago, Chile from June 28-30, 2017.
Utile’s future bus station vision, called “The Billow,” is the product of an interdisciplinary team of urban designers, transportation planners, and architects, and is named for its sculptural and weightless form. Bold yet timeless design, rider comfort, and seamless integration into the city streetscape were among the objectives of the design process.
The canopies of the proposed station are shaped to acknowledge the directionality of the buses. Rather than run columns down the centerline of the platform, Utile’s proposal places them on a diagonal, which provides additional area at the front of the bus. The columns support a single beam that serves as the spring point of a curved canopy that loops up and then down to protect passengers on the platform from the elements.
While the canopies are distinctively figurative, they also work as a kit of parts. When used in more conventional sidewalk applications, the sidewalk-facing canopy provides space for a kiosk, such as a coffee shop, a fruit seller, or a newsstand, providing an amenity for the neighborhood and a high-traffic retail location for a local business. The remaining area can be used for moveable chairs that double as an outdoor café and a pleasant place to wait.
The roof shape was inspired by the voluminous and strongly figurative roofs of H.H. Richardson’s suburban train stations and sheds. While the upper surface of the roof will be a warm medium grey, the natural color of the concrete material, the underside will be brightly colored in patterns or murals that will be customized for each neighborhood. These ceiling murals will be more recessive during the day, when the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city will dominate, but they will become welcoming beacons at night because of uplighting attached to the beams. The crosswalks leading to the stations can become an extension of the art featured on the underside of the canopy.