UT Arlington Students Win Award for DART Bus Shelter Concept

Posted on Apr 27, 2023 by Pedro Malkomes, The Shorthorn, The University of Texas at Arlington

Congratulations to the UT Arlington architecture students who won the ASLA Texas Student Honor Award in the category of Urban Design for the concept for the next generation of DART bus shelters.

The students were recognized during the awards luncheon at the 2023 Texas ASLA Annual Conference, held in Fort Worth, on April 26. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States. 

During the Fall 2022 semester, DART worked with these fourth-year architecture students in the Design Studio course within the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Arlington. The students conducted primary and secondary research, created and refined their designs, and built working prototypes of their final bus shelter concept. Throughout the semester, they worked under the guidance of Professor Julia Lindgren, DART experts, and professional architects from The American Institute of Architects - Dallas chapter.

Learn more about the project from this article by Pedro Malkomes, published in The Shorthorn, UTA's student newspaper.

Students worked in their class alongside Dallas Area Rapid Transit to design a bus shelter that recently won an award for its creativity and functionality.

In their design, the team considered factors like Texas weather and feedback on the city’s bus system from Dallas residents. It was recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, receiving the 2023 Texas ASLA Student Honor Award earlier this semester.

Julia Lindgren, assistant professor in the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, led the design class through the three-month project. She said the project’s recognition shows the students’ collective efforts and hard work. 

“It’s fantastic for CAPPA to just get their work out there and show what it is we’re doing here, especially in the context of the larger profession and local communities,” Lindgren said. 

She had 16 students cooperating on the project. The team devised its plan after CAPPA was contacted by DART, who also reached out to the American Institute of Architects, Lindgren said. 

The collaboration with DART and AIA was instrumental to the design process, she said. Students received bus passes at the beginning of the project, so they could ride around Dallas and gather the city’s thoughts on the bus system. 

They then incorporated the feedback from bus riders, leadership and citizen advisers within DART as well as inputting their own experiences with the routes into their design.  

Architecture senior Tasfia Zahin said she was new to the design build space at the start of the semester but quickly gained a lot of experience. 

“It was truly just about learning how to work in real life with real partners and organizations,” Zahin said.

She said she grew up in southern California, where buses are a main mode of transportation. In Texas, things are different. Wait times for buses are longer, and many Dallas bus stops don’t have seating accommodations. 

“If somebody had to wait here, there are some routes where [buses] come every hour, that person will have to be waiting there and standing for an hour,” she said. “They don’t have any way to rest and stuff, they definitely don’t have any kind of cover over their heads for shelter.” 

The team also explored adding trees along every bus shelter, which Lindgren said would provide shade, ease bus riders and make the wait feel shorter. 

“Research has shown that it decreases your perceived wait time by two to three minutes, which is pretty giant when you’re sitting there waiting,” she said. “So students looked at what if we were to incorporate one tree with every bus stop and what would that look like at the aggregate city level.” 

The project consisted of a lot of communication and hands-on work, Zahin said. “Each of us had a special moment within the project, and we all had like, ‘Oh, you know, I did that part.’ It was like that honorable feeling because we’d never built something before.”

Bus Shelter Prototype

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