March 28, 2013


With Bus Rapid Transit coming to Chicago, 2013 Burnham Prize Competition: NEXT STOP will focus on designing transit stations that can transform space and community

Chicago, Illinois, March 28, 2013-- The Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in partnership with The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Chicago Bus Rapid Transit Steering Committee, today announced the launch of the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition: NEXT STOP – Designing Chicago BRT Stations. This single-stage international design ideas competition is intended to be a catalyst for iconic, sustainable, and functional design for Chicago’s planned BRT system.

The competition seeks to integrate innovative and compelling transportation design into Chicago’s urban fabric. NEXT STOP seeks proposals that realize BRT as a system of solutions: teams will submit designs for three different sites, demonstrating how BRT station design can be adapted to different contexts. Competitors will design stations for:

  • Downtown near State and Madison
  • Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ stop
  • Pilsen near 18th and Ashland

"'Next Stop' is an unprecedented opportunity for the design community to have a true impact in building the future of the city of Chicago," says Karla Sierralta, co-president of Chicago Architectural Club.

Adds co-president Brian Strawn: "The deep collaboration between the Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, alongside CTA, CDOT and the BRT Steering Committee is a new model for the City of Chicago to reclaim its place as a center for innovative architecture, urban planning and design."

This competition is a vital component of the planning process for Chicago’s bold new BRT transit initiative. BRT service offers faster, more efficient, and more reliable travel than traditional bus service. Designed for busy streets with high vehicle traffic, BRT systems can integrate a number of features, including:

  • Dedicated bus lanes or separate bus right of way from normal street traffic.
  • Transit signal priority which extends green lights and shortens red lights for buses.
  • Fewer stops and additional customer amenities, including pre-paid fare collection, neighborhood maps, and digital displays with bus and train arrival information.
  • A uniquely-identifiable fleet of vehicles with a distinct look and brand.
  • Special stations designed to increase the speed, comfort, and ease of travel.

BRT combines the efficiency and consistency of rail rapid transit with the flexibility and comparatively lower cost of bus service. Around the world, BRT service has been implemented with tremendous success, including in several U.S. cities. BRT is currently being planned for two transit corridors in Chicago: the Central Loop and along Western and Ashland avenues. Other potential corridors are currently being studied.

“Quality station design is at the heart of BRT. Without it, every component of the service may be compromised, from rider experience to system operations,” says Lynn Osmond, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Architecture Foundation. “Visionary station design will help ensure Chicago BRT lives up to its promise as a modern, high quality public transit service that is characterized by speed, reliability, ease, and comfort. Importantly, BRT stations aren’t limited by their potential as public transit amenities: they have the opportunity to become vibrant public spaces in their own right and catalyze additional investment along corridors.”

Entry information, including a complete set of rules, can be found at The deadline for entries has been extended to May 21 at midnight (US Central).

A jury of notable professionals, academics, and public officials will decide competition winners.

Winner of the 2013 Burnham Prize will be announced at an event at Chicago Architecture Foundation on June 6, 2013.

The Chicago BRT Steering Committee includes: Chicago Department of Transportation, CTA, Metropolitan Planning Council, Active Transportation Alliance, Urban Land Institute, Civic Consulting Alliance and IDTP with support from Rockefeller Foundation and Chicago Community Trust.


The history of the Chicago Architectural Club runs side-by-side with the development of the Chicago school of architecture. From its founding in 1885 as an architectural sketch club, to today's rich schedule of discussions, competitions and exhibitions, the CAC has consistently championed the work of Chicago architects, as well as fostering ongoing, vigorous debate on fundamental issues of art and practice. Today, the CAC has rededicated itself to carrying forward Chicago's robust architectural legacy into a new century.


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Justin Lyons
Chicago Architecture Foundation

John Harris

Matt Baron