ID: 10021

Make [Your Neighborhood] Closer

Idealab Architecture and Design

Daniel Riggs

The beautiful thing about Bus Rapid Transit in Boston is the ability to make up for decades of limited service in many of Boston’s peripheral neighborhoods, often in locations that once facilitated movement through the city on light or elevated rail. Modernizing transportation in these neighborhoods, places like Mattapan, Brighton, Hyde Park and Dorchester, is incredibly important in maintaining and improving a diverse, dense and unified City of Boston.  

The challenge for the designer is in creating a solution that works in neighborhoods that differ in scale, demographics and geography. Our solution aims to bridge the near past of nickel-a-ride light rail and the sustainable, technologically advanced future of mass transit through a subtly transformative solution. We believe this solution doesn’t want to be an icon that is rubber stamped around the city, but a clear and simple portal.
The proposed facility has clear branding, starting with the simple rooflines, the image of a single line that connects two points. We combine this with simple wayfinding and triangular LED display screens that show waiting times and make the entrance obvious. It is bright and transparent, meant to promote safety, not only in the station itself but in the surrounding areas. The building can be easily read by users; it has clear sides and entrances. The entry facades of the facility have clear and open areas that can facilitate the installation of artwork and the structure itself is full of areas that can be added to and adapted by local artists. Accessing the station would be a pleasure, as the central station would be fed by a newly occupied central median, with plantings, furnishings, bicycle parking and the potential for local sculpture. This improved central median would lead to integral ADA ramps at both entries, making the facility accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

The shape of the station, and the way it is framed, is intended to evoke the image of infrastructure, of covered bridges, trolleys, and telephone line insulators. It is meant to feel at home in the center of the city as well as peripheral places as unique and diverse as the residential areas of Readville and industrial areas of Allston/ Brighton. The design is meant to be simple, familiar and intuitive for the user. 
The components themselves could be efficiently prefabricated and assembled on site without the use of large equipment, to allow for easy implementation of the system on existing streets. It could quickly constructed on or off site, but large contractors or smaller neighborhood companies. 
The importance of transit to the present and future of Boston cannot be overstated. BRT has the potential to bring mass transit to areas of the city that have been underserved for a long time, creating new opportunities and convenience in the wonderfully diverse neighborhoods of Boston, connecting them to both the center of the city and each other. This design is meant to help unite the city through subtle and coordinated transit transformation and generate enthusiasm and inspiration for the future of our rapid transportation system.