The new Fullerton and Belmont Stations are the result of 12 years of planning and design for the replacement of overburdened stations with two, new fully accessible, multi-modal facilities. The stations are the new transfer hubs of the Red, Brown and Purple Lines of the Chicago Transit Authority, carrying more than 10,000 daily passengers more than 65 of the systems traffic.
The design is a balance of many influences and attempts to bridge the perceived gap between safety, accessibility, and connections to neighborhoods by creating a consistent, recognizable branding for the transit system, while providing unique amenities within open-air plazas at each location.
The most prominent feature of both station projects is the incorporation of natural light into the facility and the streetscape. Translucent canopies and glass planks on the platforms were designed to bring light down over the streets to avoid light-sinks along two of Chicagos most prominent east-west arteries. Layers of perforated stainless steel panels and patterned glass walls slide past stair openings to shelter and to bring light into the deep stationhouse, transforming artificial environments into spaces that blur the threshold to the outdoor streetscapes that surrounds them. Light structural members and reflective finishes sustain the diffusion of natural light, and are designed to accommodate future extensions of canopy enclosure and the replacement of concrete platforms with glass flooring over the streets and plazas.
The plazas enclose controlled entrances into the stations. In the main plazas, fare collection gateways are supported by flanking white brick pylons that lead to monumental stairs, from which lighter stairs connect to the platforms. Within the plazas, concrete columns taper to provide visual relief and a canvass for artwork bearing the weight of the new, sound-dampening track structure above.
The historic stationhouses were moved across the streets, restored to their original design, and now provide full access as originally intended.
The stations represented one fourth of the overall budget for the 530 million Ravenswood Line Expansion project, 50 of which was funded by New Starts allocations, including a FFGA issued in 2004. All work was done in accordance to applicable regulations and standards including preliminary planning and design efforts done by Ross Barney Architects in 1998 and incorporated in the Alternatives Analysis stage submittals. During the Preliminary Engineering phase, Ross Barney Architects led, in association with the MIT Center for Transportation Logistics, the multi-consultant development of line-wide and system-wide design and technical specification guidelines to bridge the perceived gap between safety, accessibility, and connections to neighborhoods.
The design is a balance of many influences – urban design, branding of the transit system, station identity, property acquisition, neighborhood impact, sound attenuation, budget, schedule, and passenger safety and convenience. The facilities are safe, clean, fully accessible amenities for the community of users and the neighborhoods that surround them.