An artist's rendering of new Big Blue Bus stops that will be installed this year. The design was recognized by the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter. (photo by Photo Courtesy Big Blue Bus)

DOWNTOWN — The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects has awarded its “Next LA Citation Award for Architecture” to the new Big Blue Bus shelter and bus stop redevelopment program.

The award honors excellence in design by Los Angeles architects for projects not yet built.

“This is a very meaningful award, especially because one of the goals for this project was to create something totally unique,” said Dan Dawson, customer relations manager for the Big Blue Bus. “These new stops will make riding public transit a better experience by offering passengers a whole new level of enhanced information and comfort.”

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) was chosen to work with Big Blue Bus and city staff to come up with a Santa Monica-inspired design that would also incorporate real-time information, solar lighting, updated maps, and other desired amenities for riders.

The final design, called “The Blue Spots,” is clean and unobtrusive, and was designed to enhance the city’s coastal look and feel, city officials said. The new bus stop structures will utilize a modular system flexible enough to adapt to various sized locations and rider volumes.

As part of LOHA’s research, each stop’s unique orientation was carefully analyzed so seating could be positioned for maximum sun protection for waiting passengers. Since the shelters will utilize slender poles instead of the typical multiple sided structures found at most stops, passengers requiring special access, such as wheelchairs, will find the stops very easy to use. Businesses located near the bus stops will also benefit from the minimal structures, as store windows and signage will not be blocked, according to the BBB.

All 360 bus stops throughout Santa Monica, and various other stops located around Los Angeles serviced by the Big Blue Bus, will be updated. New features at each stop will include:

• A Big Blue Bus system map.

• A local map showing places to visit within walking or biking distance.

• A timetable and route map of lines stopping at that location.

• Estimated travel times to key points along the route.

• An ID number that allows for real time bus arrivals via cell phone.

• A shelter canopy.

Medium and high volume stops will also receive:

• Signs that broadcast real time bus arrival information.

• Seating (select low volume stops may also receive seating).

• Trash and recycling containers.

• Solar LED lighting that illuminates the structure and waiting area.

In keeping with the city of Santa Monica’s commitment to a cleaner environment, the new stops will be fabricated with recycled and locally sourced materials wherever possible.

Federal Transit Administration and stimulus funds were the primary sources of funding for the project’s $6.9 million budget.

Construction of the new stops is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2011. For more information, visit and click on the “Bus Stop Redevelopment” icon.

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