Student-Built Bus Shelters Offer Shade, Water Harvesting

Oct. 24, 2012

UA’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture students recently headed northwest of Tucson to the town of Marana to help install the second of two bus shelters they designed and built.

The steel shelters, designed to be both socially and environmentally sustainable, were the result of the Marana Bus Shelter project, a partnership between the UA and Marana.

The project began after Marana representatives attended a Regional Transportation Authority meeting during which members of the UA college presented a Bus Shelter Prototypes project that had been conducted for Pima County. Impressed with the environmentally and socially sustainable approach to the design, delivery and performance of the bus shelters, Marana contracted the UA for the job.

Under the guidance of Christopher Trumble, assistant professor of architecture, two student interns – David Koenst and Kevin Moore, both of whom have since graduated – designed the shelters, which were then built by one dozen students in the college's Material Labs as part of a fabrication class. The first shelters were installed at the Marana Civic Center during the summer, and the second over the weekend.

The bus shelters were designed to be eco-friendly; they each harvest rainwater from the roofs, which then travels via rain gutters and chains to a small planter.

The structures also were created with bus rider comfort in mind. Enclosed by steel slats, the shelters eliminate early morning and late afternoon sun during the summers, and provide maximum visibility to standing and sitting occupants while still giving users a sense of security. The slats also minimize vertical surfaces that can be prone to graffiti.

The project gave students a chance to build something tangible for a real client, Trumble said.

"It has to be vetted, it has to perform well. There's a dimension of reality," he said. "This is not just a sketch saying what something will do. It has to work."

Photos courtesy of the UA’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture