The Big Blue Bus of Santa Monica’s new shelter and bus stop redevelopment program has earned the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) “Next LA” Citation Award for Architecture.

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.”

Under the program, all 360 bus stops throughout Santa Monica, and various other stops around Los Angeles serviced by the Big Blue Bus, will be updated, transit agency officials said.

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects was chosen to work with Big Blue Bus and the city’s staff to create a Santa Monica-inspired design that would also incorporate real-time information, solar lighting, updated maps, and other desired amenities for riders, according to the transit agency.

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

Among the new features at each stop are a Big Blue Bus system map; a timetable and route map of lines stopping at that location; estimated travel times to key points along the route; and a shelter canopy.

Medium and high volume stops will also receive trash and recycling containers and 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, a bus spokesperson said. 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.

Information, www.bigbluebus.com and click on “bus stop redevelopment” icon.

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