Archive for the ‘ Project Division ’ Category

Integrated Bus Shelter / Underground Entry Point (Draft Concept)


Stairs in the Mercedes-Benz-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

I love the stairs here. I wonder if they would they be too much for an underground train entrance.

Project Division Concept Presentation Feedback

In future iterations …

1. Clarify the experience of transfer between the blue line and circle line

2. Add resolution to the diagrams and models. Make it clearer where the site and connecting bus lines are. Use a consistent scale throughout.

3. If we want to use a non-traditional interface such as an interactive sidewalk for wayfinding, explain how it will work and show a prototype.

4. Our touch point analysis looked at existing objects in the mezzanine level. It seemed to the audience that we were proposing that these elements be pushed into the neighborhood. Instead, the proposed neighborhood objects did not have existing analogues. We need to better explain how new objects will map onto existing systems, something which should be easier to do once we determine what the new objects are.

Feedback from other presentations (where we could have improved) …

1. Each panel should have a point / develop the story.

2. For each analysis, make it clear what was learned from the analysis.

3. How did the analysis affect the design?

Project Division: Revised Position Statement and Model-Making

The intersection of Division, Milwaukee, and Ashland represents a neighborhood that is literally and figuratively at a crossroads. Spend one hour sitting in the triangle and the mixed neighborhood will become obvious. Young families take children for a stroll past the homeless sorting trash and dusty laborers boarding the #70 bus. Modern housing and upscale restaurants are taking over the dilapidated working class landscape. In the middle of all this is the Division Blue line stop which is a confusing mess in a changing neighborhood. We think the station can be better integrated into the community. The challenge is finding a way to use space and objects to enhance the immediate environment and direct people towards community resources.

We envision a station composed of several nodes throughout the immediate vicinity that direct people to schools, churches, restaurants, markets and other features of the neighborhood. Above Sites A and B we plan to situate entrances to a well-lit, underground mezzanine level where riders can grab coffee and a newspaper on their way to work. Above ground at Site A, we will place a community garden. Around the blue/circle line entrances, riders can find information centers that take the form of bus shelters, pavilions, and bike rental kiosks. Leveraging the vistas created by the triangle and nearby intersections, we hope to absorb and redirect traffic in a manner that facilitates an open dialogue between the neighborhood and its constituents.

Project Division Group Position Statement (Draft)

We want to offer the Division community seamless connectivity in three ways: logistically, architecturally, and functionally. Logistically, traffic flow and connections to buses, taxis, car drop offs / pick ups, and bicycles will be clear and convenient. Architecturally, the building will be responsive to environmental changes. Functionally, the building will offer underrepresented services that may include a fitness center, vendor market space, park, performance area, and other amenities.

Why seamless?

Logistically, the seamless concept allows us to serve more people in a given amount of space because people can get to their destination faster. Tourists and newcomers are less likely to block traffic if they can quickly learn how to get to their destination. Architecturally, we want the station to stay culturally relevant in a changing neighborhood. Functionally, the additional services would save riders a separate trip and increase traffic use of the space on weekends.

How will this improve the community?

The new station will create employment, offer community (civic) space, become a landmark, and provide services/conveniences.

Thoughts on User Experience Design for Project Division

At 6AM, it always smells the same outside Charles de Gaulle. A layer of fog shelters the airport from city smog as I wait for a bus transfer to the M├ętro. It is crisp and damp. Before sun breaks the fog, it feels more like home than San Francisco. I am amazed at how smell can create the sense of a place but it is more than that; it is the brisk walk by baggage claim and customs, the wide corridor past currency exchange counters to that one distributeur automatique downstairs to withdraw Euros at the lowest exchange rate available, the push through the sliding glass doors to the bus stop where airport employees take cigarette breaks with locals returning home. This is the first stop in a ritual that I associate most intimately with Paris. The breath is confirmation that I have arrived.

When I remember a place, it is that intangible emotive quality that I first remember. Did I feel safe? Did I feel comfortable? Would I want to return? Tonight our group walked around the Division station documenting the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood. We found an area in flux. Amidst the noisy thoroughfare, unkept buildings, and garbage flocked streets were pockets of neighborhood improvements: new construction with modern interiors and brick facades that blended into the environment. We felt comfortable in areas that were well-inhabited, where blinds were open and windows were tall and wide. The transparency of a family’s lifestyle suggested that an area was safe. We felt unsafe in areas that seemed abandoned, where front lawns were overgrown and fenced off. If someone lived in these places, they didn’t create a welcoming environment.

Then I remember the amenities. At Charles De Gaulle, there are shops with good selections of fine wine and extensive humidors of Cuban cigars. There is a food court with at least two or three merchants boasting a selection of Iranian caviar and truffles. It’s a foodie’s dream mall and airport terminal in one. Division has a few upscale dining/bar venues, but they are clustered between run-down schools, Section 8 housing, and dilapidated churches. The only fitness center we could find was a small farm of treadmills in one of the trendier sections. Where does someone go to buy upscale groceries around here?

Ostensibly, the Charles de Gaulle and Division cater to different demographics. Someone who flies to Paris isn’t supposed to be of the same social class as someone who lives in the Division area. Yet if the housing facelift is any indication, that line is quickly blurring. What do the growing population of young professional families want in a transit station?

I’d like to create the experience of a passage home for riders in the evening and a launching point for a successful day in the morning. That begins by making the user’s experience as seamless as possible. Bicyclists will find safe and convenient parking on the way to the platform. Connections to and from the circle line, busses and taxis will be sheltered, informed and convenient. That experience continues with extra services. The smell of coffee and prepared foods will overwhelm unpleasant street odors. While the station is still primarily a passage, it can also serve as a destination that offers amenities such as a grocery store and fitness center.

Aesthetically, I want the station to reflect the community’s evolving architecture. Above ground, that means brick facades and tall glass windows that reveal the inner workings of the station. Outside, bright lampposts would help keep the building and area secure while discouraging the homeless from sleeping outside the station. Mediating the underground and above ground environments are transitions that clearly demarcate where one is and where one is headed. If the inner passages can be organized in a geometrically simple way, people will learn the station layout faster.

Ultimately the station design comes down to creating a positive user experience for the community. If we aim to please the marginal, more finicky users, we will improve station design for all users. In turn, we will increase ridership and improve the image of the CTA. This begins by framing an ideal experience and continues with the design of seamless transitions and passenger amenities. Charles de Gaulle is memorable because the experience of passing through it feels like home. So too should Division extend that apropos sentiment of “just right.”

Project Division First Team Meeting

We began to organize our thoughts.

Project Objectives:
– Organize activities by serving as a connection hub for the blue line, the new circle line, buses, and taxis
– Safely facilitate pedestrian traffic across a busy intersection
– Feature local attractions (and generate ad revenue?)
– Maintain a street presence that promotes community activities
– Serve as a bicycle connection station

Users: we need a better understanding of the demographic
– What is the user’s path to the Division station? What other services does that user want near the time of their travel?
– Who uses the Division station? Check google maps to determine the neighborhood edges that are closest to Division station and learn the culture of the community to determine needs. Photo document who walks in/out of the station. Interview riders about their experience. Workarounds will reveal latent needs
– CTA data on traffic patterns (when and how many) will help determine the number of turnstiles and ticket machines needed, as well as corridor and stair widths

The User Experience We Want: needs to be expanded/validated/refuted by broader user research
– comfortable: better lighting, air quality, platform seating, turnstiles, point-of-purchase, clean surfaces
– safe: no blind corners, visual context
– clear: way-finding, naming conventions (direction), navigation, signs with times of arrival for trains and transfers
– appropriate for future: demographic and technology

To Be Determined:
– Group name
– Mission statement
– Is the station a destination or transitory phase?
– What about the homeless?