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Blue Spots shade Santa Monica's bus routes

Distribution of Blue Spot shelters.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Los Angeles-based architecture firm Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA) with Bruce Mau Design (BMD) won the City of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus Shelter and Branding Package. BMD's task was signage and information while LOHA's was bus shelter design. The firm's shelter concept was "the Blue Spots."  In plan view, the shelters resemble spots of blue on the landscape (above). Santa Monica's 360 bus stops were analyzed by boardings per day resulting in four categories of stops:
  • “Type 1” High Volume, 100 – 999 boardings per day, 54 stops
  • “Type 2” Moderate Volume, 50 – 99 boardings per day, 42 stops
  • “Type 3” Lower Volume, 49 or less boardings per day, 259 stops
  • “Type 4” Special High Volume, over 1,000 boarding’s per day, 1 stop
Blue Spot configurations of  shade canopy, mount, and seats.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).
LOHA's shelter, composed of three elements, can be configured for each stop type.  The three components of the Blue Spot are a circular shade structure, a pole mount, and individual seats.  Santa Monica's Department of Public Works described the Blue Spot as follows:
The flexible and adaptable design allows sites to be individually calibrated according to solar orientation, varying site conditions, and to provide maximum shade at each site throughout the day.
Elements of the shelter site.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).
Additional features of the Blue Spot include transparency to preserve business visibility, solar technology to power lights and signs, trash and recycling bins, as well as signage and information. Interestingly, a stormwater runoff reduction component was researched but "not recommended due to redundancy with the existing Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility system, tree requirements that might be in conflict with the City’s list of approved tree list, added costs of roughly 70% the estimated cost of the bus shelter, and greatly increased construction time."

(According to Fast Company, "rain isn't really a big problem in Santa Monica"; the  average annual precipitation measured at the Santa Monica Pier is 12.89 inches.  (Compare to yearly averages in Seattle (36.2 inches), San Francisco (19.5 inches), and New York City (40.3 inches).)  However, despite relatively low rainfall, additional runoff reduction measures might be necessary.  In their study of the effects of Santa Monica's street and park tree cover on rainfall interception, Xiao and McPherson (2002, "Rainfall interception by Santa Monica’s municipal urban forest") found that Santa Monica's tree pruning practices might reduce crown volume, leaf area, and stem area resulting in reduced rainfall interception rates.)

LOHA's design process yielded a spectacular set of data, information and graphics, some of which are pictured below.

Pre-existing shelter design.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Daily ridership peaks.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Sun-shadow studies.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Distribution of daily and seasonal shadow.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Site-specific geometry.  Source: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA).

Tell us about your city's bus shelters!

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Thanks to Andrew Hall of LOHA for the images used in this blog post.  Hat tip: Frances Anderton's Design and Architecture show on KCRW via Emily Green's Chance of Rain blog.


Love it! I live in Santa Monica and take the bus occasionally, so I can't wait for the new "shelters". I love that the design is flexible and that they're going to use solar.

Isn't it wonderful when architecture attempts to add to the environment? It shows a sense of pride when architecture is allowed to go beyond the mere utilitarian. Thanks for this post, Georgia.
Georgia said…
Kimberly, you must let us know about your experiences using the shelters.