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Pilsen couple places 2nd in bus design contest

Goi Artetxe and Elise Renwick moved to Pilsen two months ago and already they've made their mark on Chicago.

The husband-and-wife team placed second in a contest by the Chicago Architectural Club and Chicago Architecture Foundation to design shelters for upcoming express bus service in Chicago. The couple said their entry, "Enthalpy," was inspired by Lake Michigan and its ability to create energy.

The fully enclosed glass stations rely on solar panels. Inside, there are benches and vending machines to purchase bus tickets. Lights and heaters hang from the ceiling. Bikes are placed on the wall. 

"Enthalpy," which the judging panel of local transit experts called an "inviting space," won $1,500. The first prize went to a team from Canada. The CTA and Chicago Department of Transportation said they may incorporate ideas from the entries when designing the shelters for bus rapid transit.

The express bus service, which typically relies on traffic signal priority and dedicated lanes for buses, is slated to arrive on Ashland Avenue and in the Loop in the next few years.

In preparing for this project, Artetxe and Renwick, who moved from New York, said they talked to CTA riders and drivers.

"Design affects every aspect of your life if you're conscious of it or not," said Renwick, 28.

The duo hasn't determined how much it would cost to create their fantasy shelter. Ideally, stainless steel would be a main material, but cheaper materials could be substituted, said Artetxe, 33.

The Architecture Foundation said they were looking to award shelters that could appear in any Chicago neighborhood.

"We were thinking each bus stop could generate its own energy literally and also socially," Renwick said.

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